Third generation farmer Andrew Combes is the only commercial patata grower south of Hobart (Tasmania, Australia).
What’s more, the 36-year-old is the new Rabobank Simplot Young Potato Grower of the year.
The Combes family have been growing potatoes in Woodstock along the Channel Highway since the 1940s.
The farmer sells fresh produce locally and provides about 1000 tonnes of seed potatoes to Simplot every year.
But Mr Combes says it was a bit of a light bulb moment when he decided to carry on the torch of the multi-generational family business.
“I was in a packing shed helping put bags on a bagger at the time, and I suddenly just had this thought that, yeah, why don’t I just do this, it’s all here, I’m sure that my parents would hate for it not to go anywhere after they retire.
“It was a good opportunity for something I thought I would really love doing.
“I was half way through college and studying to be a drama and English teacher so that was a fairly major step in the opposite direction,”he said.
Mr Combes has come a long way since making that big life decision.
He says winning the young potato farmer award was a complete surprise.
“It was a complete shock to be honest, I had no idea whatsoever…. I am proud to have the acknowledgement, it’s nice to see a seed grower get some acknowledgment as well,”he said.
The potato grower supplies about 200 tonnes a year of fresh produce to local stores in the Huon Valley but his main income is his Simplot seed potato contract.
With the majority of commercial vegetable growers in the north of the state, Mr Combes says that his farm’s isolation is vital to the success of his seed potato business.