General Manager of Green Camel Organic Produce and up-and-coming leader, Andrew McIlwain, is on a mission to change perceptions around organic produce and promote its wide-ranging benefits to more consumers.
Andrew’s clear leadership potential and commitment to the industry was recognised on Friday 25 November when he was named Young Organic Leader of the Year at the 2022 Australian Organic Industry Awards, hosted by peak industry body Australian Organic Limited (AOL) at Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley.
Based in Sydney, Green Camel produces more than 1,100,000kg of fresh organic produce from just 2.5ha of commercial glasshouses. The innovative company is now the largest supplier of organic fresh produce into Woolworths and Coles by volume.
“I am supported by a strong team at Green Camel, and this award is recognition of the years of hard work we’ve put in driving forward innovation in the industry,” Andrew said.
“Our motivation is driven by seeing our produce on the shelf and consumer feedback.
“Although my time within the organic industry has been relatively short, I am amazed at the people involved, and look forward to contributing to this fantastic industry going forward.”
Andrew began his career in conventional hydroponic glasshouse production, but the reliance on synthetic chemicals and waste issues associated with this method inspired him to join Green Camel in 2019.
The company focuses on cultivating snacking tomatoes, truss tomatoes and snacking cucumbers, by blending principles from the organic and protected cropping industries.
Andrew has a Master of Science (Agriculture) qualification specialising in Protected Cropping from Western Sydney University and was chosen as 2022 Grower of the Year by Protected Cropping Australia.
“Protected cropping has the ability to secure consistent quality and yields year-round by limiting the amount of adverse weather that the crop is exposed to, while embracing the ethos of organic, soil-based growing,” he said.
“Regenerative farming practices, soil development and resource recovery are all important to me. I believe as farmers we have an obligation to the land, the soil, local flora and fauna and to our consumers, and as such we should produce in a way which secures the Australian agricultural industry for the long-term.
“Our mission is to produce commercially feasible organic products, and remove barriers for consumers choosing organic, such as affordability and supply consistency.
“Market demand is increasing rapidly and the industry has an opportunity to position itself to meet this demand.
“Many consumers still believe organic just means no chemical sprays. We have a big opportunity to increase awareness around the range of organic farming practices which work in balance with nature to secure a long-term agricultural future.”
Andrew is on the frontline of this education mission, hosting farm tours and delivering guest lectures for university and high school students on organic farming practices.
AOL CEO Niki Ford said the awards showed the industry was in good hands.
“The achievements of our finalists are remarkable in themselves, but to consider what they have done at such a relatively young age makes it something to celebrate,” Ms Ford said.
Photos of the Industry Award winners can be viewed at this link.
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