2023 APAL Awards for Excellence winners

June 7, 2023 | 5 Min read
The 2023 APAL Awards for Excellence celebrated the exceptional contribution made by industry leaders, growers, marketers, exporters and researchers.

The 2023 APAL Awards for Excellence celebrated the exceptional contribution made by industry leaders, growers, marketers, exporters and researchers.

Eight categories formed the awards in 2023, with two new categories – the Environment and Sustainability Award and the Agritourism Award.

The awards were presented at APAL’s Industry Forum Welcome Drinks in Melbourne on 1 June in front of more than 100 people.

APAL CEO Philip Turnbull said, “The award nominations received for the APAL Awards for Excellence this year showcased exceptional talent and demonstrated the incredible passion and dedication of many remarkable individuals within our industry.

“Congratulations to all of our awards recipients, we commend you on your achievements and thank you for your contributions.”

APAL also thanked everyone who nominated a colleague within the industry.

Grower of the Year Award – Murray Collins

Grower of the Year is awarded to an outstanding apple or pear grower across all aspects of production – from growing, to environmental management, staff management and product quality. They are innovative, challenge convention and implement effective practices, while actively contributing to the broader industry.

Murray Collins has built a reputation for excellence in growing premium fruit that is sought out by consumers in WA.

The recent diversification of his business and investment in a sound risk management strategy has ensured the sustainable evolution of Mr Collin’s business as he continues to grow high-quality product while ensuring supply security.

One of the early adopters of netting in WA and now with arguably the largest permanent netted orchard in the state, his commitment to ensuring quality and fruit growing excellence across their operations must be commended.

Passionate about growing premium fruit and leading the WA industry with their early adoption of emerging growing techniques and new varieties, we applaud the 2023 Grower of the Year, Murray Collins of Collins Brothers.

Lifetime Achievement Award – Sue Finger

The Lifetime Achievement accolade recognises an individual working in, or retired from, the apple or pear industry across the supply chain.

Sue Finger has established excellence in the pome-fruit industry, showing leadership in the advancement through her efforts in education, volunteering, advocacy, research and development and extension.

A third-generation apple grower, Ms Finger is a deserving recipient who has demonstrated excellence throughout her career.

Her journey has been marked by a number of key roles within the Yarra Valley fruit growing industry, having also served as president of the Horticultural Group of the VFF and subsequently as a board member for the VFF for six years.

Ms Finger was also the first female board member appointed to Hort Innovation’s inaugural board of directors when the organisation was formed and went on to serve a commendable seven years on the board.

A champion of the seasonal worker program for over a decade and showing great passion for industry advancement through her efforts lobbying government for change, we congratulate the recipient of the 2023 Lifetime Achievement Award, Sue Finger.

Young Grower of the Year Award – Joseph Napoleone

APAL said the Young Grower of the Year award went to an individual who has championed the industry’s success and has shown a commitment to innovation to help define the next generation of growers.

Overseeing Victorian sales in the family business and assisting with the end-to-end orchard operations, Mr Napoleone has taken a keen interest in the business and more broadly the industry at large.

Taking learnings from growers and peers in apple and pears as well as like-minded industries, Joseph is focused on developing his networks to improve their knowledge and understanding, advocating for the growth and improvement of sustainable business practices.

Demonstrating the eagerness and enthusiasm we hope to see come through in the next generation of the industry, we congratulate the recipient of Young Grower of the Year for 2023, Joseph Napoleone.

Women in Horticulture – Ann Lyster

The Women in Horticulture Award went to a female industry leader who has demonstrated outstanding success in their chosen field and has been proactive and committed to achieving success in the industry and mentoring women in horticulture.

Ann Lyster was pivotal in the early days of the Cripps Pink development, championing international partnerships to introduce the variety to the UK.

She is committed and motivated to ensuring the industry’s future and continues to dedicate her time to mentoring many women within the horticulture industry, championing female orchardists, business managers, marketers, executive officers and technical support officers.

Holding roles including chair of the Fruit West Co-operative, and chair of the Sustainable Rural Development Group government reference group, APAL congratulates the recipient of the 2023 Women in Horticulture Award, Ann Lyster.

Research and Extension Provider of the Year – Kevin Dodds

The Research and Extension Provider of the Year recipient is Kevin Dodds. Kevin has a track record of research or extension work that has advanced the apple and pear industry, offering long-term industry benefits.

APAL said Mr Dodds is renowned for his “grower first” mentality and has been an active member of the NSW apple industry for over 23 years.

He has played a pivotal role in supporting the industry through various natural disasters, from hailstorms to frost and the 2020 Batlow bushfires.

A longstanding FLA for the Future Orchards program, a research provider of PIPS programs and responsible for the delivery of several IPDM programs we congratulate Kevin Dodds as the 2023 recipient of the Research and Extension Provider of the Year Award.

Marketer of the Year Award – Jenny Mercer

Marketer of the Year is open to individuals or teams from across the industry that have shown excellence in marketing apples or pears in domestic or international markets through campaigns, programs and new market opportunities.

Ms Mercer continues to be a front-runner of innovative marketing campaigns, including QR-code-driven promotions and website activities for children.

APAL said Ms Mercer has worked to secure export deals for Bravo apples across Southeast Asia and the UAE through locally driven global marketing campaigns and is always thinking outside the box to respond to challenging marketing environments.

Environment and Sustainability Award – Andrew Smith

In its first year, the Environment and Sustainability Award is awarded to an individual or team who has demonstrated excellence in adopting environmentally friendly practices and sustainable initiatives within the apple and pear industry.

Andrew Smith leads the charge on sustainability initiatives and waste reduction in the organisation and is committed to removing single-use plastics on a commercial scale.

Mr Smith is also responsible for spearheading the move to becoming Australia’s first organic apple orchard to use 100% certified home compostable packaging for fruit.

Agritourism Award – Glenn and Jo-Anne Fahey

The Agritourism Award is open to an individual, team or business that demonstrates excellence in the promotion of apples and pears through programs and initiatives that shine a positive light on the industry.

Glenn and Jo-Anne Fahey have successfully transitioned from being ordinary apple farmers to fruit-picking tour guides, cider makers, guest house proprietors and on-farm event managers.

They’ve used the power of social media to reach over 15,000 followers driving awareness and education about the fruit industry, its people and processes and their orchard has featured on numerous lifestyle-media programs including ‘The Living Room’ and ‘Better Homes & Gardens’, as well as numerous newspapers and radio programs.

Story provided by APAL (Apple & Pear Australia Ltd).

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