May was a big month for Marius Boarta: he was named Young Grower of the Year and became an Australia citizen within a matter of weeks.
Mr Boarta had no idea he had been nominated for the Fruit Growers Tasmania award, but was thrilled to receive the gong at the conference dinner on Friday night.
Coincidently, this was the same day Burlington Berries finished harvesting for the season.
“I knew the award [existed], but never thought I’d win it,” Mr Boarta said.
“It’s real recognition not only for me, but of what we have achieved at Burlington Berries as a team.
“We are dealing with such a perishable product that it is picked in field and is in cold storage within 45 minutes, with 60 per cent of stock dispatched on the same day depending on which area we’re supplying,” Mr Boarta said.
Mr Boarta came to Tasmania five years ago to set up Burlington Berries at Cressy, after working at Hugh Lowe Farms in Kent, England.
“I was the second employee. I started as a field manager after I’d worked in the UK in the soft fruit industry for a number of years,” Mr Boarta said.
“Five years ago when we started building [Burlington Berries] a lot of people thought we’d find it difficult, but for myself it’s recognition of what we’ve brought to the industry,” he said.
When Mr Boarta and his wife came to Tasmania they had been married only a month, but they have happily settled in Perth and have since had a son.
“We came here for our honeymoon and stayed. We applied for permanent residency and once our son was born as an Australian we applied for citizenship,” Mr Boarta said.
“We’re very, very happy,” he said.
In the five years Mr Boarta has worked at the Cressy farm, he has watched the industry change significantly.
“We started with 15 hectares in 2012 and it’s almost 40 hectares. We produce 1100 tonnes of fruit now,” Mr Boarta said.
“What we’re doing is using the latest technology in irrigation and agricultural techniques. I think Tasmania is leading in technology for fruit growing.
“It’s good to be part of such a vibrant, modern industry,” he said.
Although Mr Boarta had spent several years working his way up from picking to supervising at berry farms in England, he actually studied physics at university in Romania.
“I took a job in the UK to get some income and learn English and did that for three summers to pay for my study,” Mr Boarta said.
“That’s when my passion for horticulture developed,” he said.