NGIQ Member - Australian Farmer of the Year

AUSTRALIAN FARMER OF THE YEAR Won by South East Queensland Locals

Northern Gold Coast sugar cane farmers and innovators, the Keith Family of Rocky Point Mulching has taken out the Australian Farmer of the Year title for 2016. In what could be considered a challenging time for cane farmers in the area, with talks of urban development and the uncertainty surrounding the industry, this is a true achievement.

The Australian Farmer of the Year award was announced as part of a ceremony held at Parliament House in Canberra on Thursday 10 November 2016, and caps a busy year for the third-generation family owned and operated business, Rocky Point Mulching, which focuses on environmental sustainability, renewable resources and recovery development.

Rocky Point Mulching is aiming to position themselves among the leaders in sustainable practices, in both agriculture and manufacturing. Starting out as humble sugar cane farmers, the Keith family diversified farming practices to include the production of organic, recycled garden mulch. This flagship product, sugar cane mulch, is the go-to organic garden mulch for Australian home gardeners. The previous alternative in sugar cane farming was the burning of the leaf which was considered a waste product. This new process of keeping the leaf reduces impact on the environment and increases the value of the crop, which benefits local cane growers in the Northern Gold Coast, Northern New South Wales and Bundaberg/Isis region. This significantly adds to the viability of the sugar cane farming industry, with over one million bags produced and sold annually.

Early 2016 saw the commencement of a new division, Rocky Point Recycling, an urban resource recovery business, salvaging waste timbers to create garden mulches thus reducing landfill. Rocky Point Mulching is constantly innovating with product updates, improvements and certifications to the home and professional gardening range under the Rocky Point Mulching brand. This brand now covers a full range of feeder and decorative mulches, along with potting mixes, garden soils, sands and animal bedding.

From the early days of sugar cane farming under the watchful eye of Alexander and Phyllis Keith, the Rocky Point Mulching farming enterprise has always been owned and operated by family members. Today, 13 members of the family work full-time within the business.

Hosted by Kondinin Group and ABC Rural, the Australian Farmer of the Year award recognises the farmer who has stood above their peers in the field of agriculture. The Australian Farmer of the Year is awarded to those farming individuals and families who demonstrate innovation, professionalism and a determination to succeed. They show a strong contribution to the overall success of agriculture in Australia.