Thursday, March 9, 2023


Mackay and Whitsunday Life

Bowen Family Awarded Farmer Of The Year

A long-standing Bowen farming family has been awarded 2022 Farmer of the Year in the Weekly Times which is Australia’s biggest rural news publication.

The Jurgens family operate VJK Produce and their efforts in innovation, sustainability and technology were recognised when they took home the award in the Horticulture category.

The family have been farming in Bowen for 100 years, with Jamie Jurgens’ parents starting out with just 20 acres of tomatoes.

VJK Produce is now farming close to 3,000 acres and for the past 12 years, since his parents retired, Jamie has been operating the farm with his wife Melita.

Their two adult children, Jessica and Jacob, are now also working back on the farm having returned with Agricultural Business Degrees.

VJK Produce grows a range of vegetables including green beans, sweet corn, pumpkin and mini capsicums.

This works alongside their organic range of green beans, sweetcorn, melons, tomatoes, pumpkins and mini capsicums.

Jamie Jurgens said he was thrilled to be recognised with the award, but that it is a reflection of the whole workforce of nearly 200 employees.

“It’s nice to be recognised for our whole team’s efforts,” he said.

“These awards aren’t won by an individual; it takes everyone to make it work. It’s really rewarding to have people around who share our passions and make a difference in agriculture, it makes you feel good about going to work.”

When asked what features of the business he believed warranted the award, Jamie said that he thinks it is their ability to innovate and the way they operate as a business.

“We have a sustainable approach to growing and use non-chemical fertiliser,” he said.

“We’ve also built an insectary which breeds insects to eat other insects, we’ve had it for four years now and it is the backbone to our organics.”

Jamie said their other successes include their ability to adapt to technology and also their ongoing partnership with Kal Fresh, a company in the south that also farm 3,000 acres.

By teaming up with the other farm, they can produce vegetables all year round.

“Being able to create the farming system we have, is a huge achievement,” said Jamie.

“To hand it over to the next generation in as good, if not better, condition than how we got it is one of my biggest goals.”

“Food is always going to be put on the table – farming is one of the biggest renewable resources and with every new crop there is a new opportunity and a positive future for agriculture done right.”

The Jurgens family – Jacob, Jamie, Melita and Jessica – who own and operate VJK Produce. Photo supplied

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