Winner of the 2011 Young Farmer of the Year, Jan Vydra, has consolidated the Australian fresh herb industry and in just a few years has grown his business to become a leading grower and distributor, pushing out 100,000 fresh bunches of 17 varieties weekly.

Jan Vydra was announced the winner of the prestigious award sponsored by the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) at the Australian Farmer of the Year Awards dinner held on Wednesday, September 7 in Sydney.

Starting with just one crop of basil, the business now runs production sites in Victoria and Queensland, employing up to 60 full and part-time staff – and has just acquired more land to further increase production.

The company has implemented a distribution system that allows retailers and distributors to order directly from the farm via fax, online or phone. Orders are tailor packed in boxes; individually sleeved and labelled; and sent directly to the assigned distributor or retailer.

The process eliminates retailers and distributors having to sort and pack herbs which can lead to mishandling of products, which are delicate and highly perishable.

The tailored IT system – Freshweb – adds to an easy delivery process for distributors and retailers as they can place an order in a matter of seconds. In turn consumers receive herbs year round and are engaged with an identifiable brand – Garnished Flavours.

Julie Gaglia from the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry said that Jan had demonstrated a highly innovative approach to developing a strong, vertically integrated agricultural enterprise.

“Jan is supplying the needs of the market through a professional, innovative and sustainable business,” Ms Gaglia said.

The inaugural national Australian Farmer of the Year Awards, hosted by Kondinin Group and ABC Rural, are designed to promote a positive image of farmers, inspire and encourage career choices and investment interest in Australian agriculture.

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