ONE of Tasmania’s organic farming pioneers has been named the state’s Senior Australian of the Year.
Tony Scherer, 75, has promoted sustainable farming methods for more than four decades after he became involved in organics in California in 1974 and continued with it when he moved to Australia in 1990.
The Penna resident introduced many organic farming methods to Tasmanian producers, showing the agricultural industry how it could cut millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while growing healthy food.
Turning his organic experience to viticulture, Tony was a founding owner of Frogmore Creek Wines in Coal Valley, where he practises sustainable and low-pesticide grape production.
He co-founded Sprout Tasmania in 2012 to spread the word about organic and sustainable farming throughout the state and, he hopes, nationally.
“Our goal is to train and mentor local farmers to promote their produce locally,” Tony said.
Australia uses a similar system to the US, where produce is grown in central areas and then shipped to supermarkets. Tony likes his system better.
“One of the reasons we started this organisation was because we felt lots of people hadn’t tasted good fruit and vegetables,” he said.
“Everything is bred for shelf life. By the time it gets here, it’s not fresh.
“Our goal is to have 200-300 small producers selling in their local areas. Everybody should be able to taste good food.”
He has watched a groundswell of support for home-grown produce since he has been in Tasmania.
“This can happen across the country.
“All of a sudden there’s a desire for people to grow their own food and support local farmers who are selling good food.
“Everyone is always looking for something local.
“I will be delivering lettuce this morning that was picked today and will be on somebody’s plate tonight.”
Tony is also Tasmania’s Pinot Noir Forum president, and in this role has helped to build the state’s reputation as a world leader in this wine.
Tony was surprised when he was named a winner at the Tasmanian Australian of the Year award ceremony. “It was a complete surprise and a very humbling, but wonderful, experience. It means a lot to us.”
Tony will head to Canberra along with other state winners for the announcement of the Australian of the Year Awards on January 25.