Spreading a message at Wombat orchard

A fresh approach at Wombat

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A regenerative approach to horticulture has allow Hall Family Orchards to avoid ever-changing export issues related to countries moving towards banning fruit with certain chemical residues.

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Lee and Chris Hall, Hall Family Orchards, Wombat. Mr Hall says NSW Farmer of the Year has allowed him to educate more people about regenerative farming.

Lee and Chris Hall, Hall Family Orchards, Wombat. Mr Hall says NSW Farmer of the Year has allowed him to educate more people about regenerative farming.

With the NSW Farmer of the Year awards cancelled for 2020, The Land and The Farmer look back at the past decade of inspiring winners to see how they've adapted to current times, as well as what the competition has meant to them.

Since 2005, Chris Hall and his team at Hall Family Orchards at Wombat, near Young, have been committed to chemical-free cherry farming.

And after becoming NSW Farmer of the Year in 2019, news of their innovative cherry growing practices spread far and wide.

"It was great to be recognised for our ideas and practises around growing cherries, using nutrition to control pest and diseases, and transferring principals of regenerative agriculture to a horticultural environment," Mr Hall says.

"The awards allowed us to spread an important message about regenerative horticultural and agricultural farming practices and the ability to push the boundaries of growing cherries that are export quality, nutritionally rich, enhanced with flavour and without any nasty chemicals in the process."

The hard work over the past 15 years has paid off, with one of the many benefits being that due to the company's focus on regenerative horticulture, it no longer has to deal with the "ever-changing export issues related to countries moving towards banning fruit with certain chemical residues" as they are not using any of the questionable chemicals.

Farmers have had the fires, drought and COVID-19 to deal with this past year, and due to cherry farming being heavily reliant on good quality water, Hall Family Orchards was significantly affected by the drought.

"We struggled with water levels needed for the cherries, especially last year, however, we have adapted our business in preparation for this season and the subsequent COVID-19 restrictions, and were fortunate that our harvest was later in the year," Mr hall said.

"We may have staffing issues related to many regular workers from Queensland not wanting to enter NSW due to the risk of having to quarantine for two weeks when they return prior to Christmas, however, we have been able to attract new staff due to our increased profile that was a result of the awards."

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