Growing opportunities at Costa Berries

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Tammy Degroot has done pretty much every job at the 9 Mile Berry farm in Tasmania, putting her in prime position to take on the role of Blueberry Farm Manager.

The first female to manage a farm within Costa’s Australian Berry Category, Tammy said she was excited about the opportunity.

Tammy, who lives in Penguin with her family, started with Costa in 2010 when the third stage of the 9 Mile blueberry farm was being planted.  She had previously been working a number of jobs including in hospitality, running the canteen at her sons’ school, and at a chicken farm.

“Our own farm overlooked the blueberry farm and I had watched the farm expanding so I thought I’d give it a go.”

After two years Tammy moved into a supervisor role and for the last four years she has been managing the harvest operations.

“There isn’t anything on this farm I haven’t done.  I like all aspects of the blueberry farm and just really enjoy coming to work.

“For a number of years I have been working towards this role.  When Rob Saggus moved here to Tasmania from the Corindi Berry farm he saw the potential in me and has been guiding me,” she said.

Cameron Folder, Tasmanian Regional Manager, congratulated Tammy on her promotion.

“Tammy’s experience equips her well for this new challenge and I am especially pleased that Tammy has been able to progress through the business to take this position,” he said.

Rob Saggus, who was the previous farm manager, has moved into the role of Raspberry Farm Manager.

Rob has also been a long-standing employee having worked for Costa for 25 years, working his way from fruit picker to irrigator to operations manager in Corindi before moving to Tasmania to lead the blueberry team for the past five years.

Leonard follows dream to build a school

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Leaving your wife and five children to work in Australia is not easy, but for Leonard Ale it’s worth the sacrifice to help realise his dream.

Leonard is one of the many thousands of people who come to work in Australia from the Pacific Islands, through the Federal Government’s Pacific Australia Labour Mobility program. He has just arrived in Australia for his second placement with Costa Berries in Corindi.

Leonard’s goal is to make sure children in his Solomons Islands community have access to education and one day have the chance to become the country’s future doctors, teachers and members of parliament.

Leonard has been instrumental in building the Mount Beata Community Primary School, situated outside of the Solomon Islands’ capital Honiara.

With money earned during his first stint in Australia he was able to donate $2000 (the equivalent of more than $10,000 Solomon Island dollars) to the ongoing development of the school.

It is supported by the Seventh Day Adventist Church, which provides teachers. The school, which has classes for prep through to Year 6, now has 154 students.  Mojo Surf, which provides accommodation for seasonal workers in Arrawarra, also made a donation to the school last year.

“There are not many primary schools in the Solomon Islands and people can’t afford to pay.  The main reason I came here to Australia was to help the school. It’s not just for my wife and children, it’s for the nation as well,” he said.

“My dream is to one day build another classroom and staff facilities,” Leonard said.

Leonard first came to Australia in October 2021, working at the Corindi Berry farm in maintenance and the packing shed.

While he’s in Australia, Leonard’s wife looks after the family piggery and cares for the children.  Despite having to leave his family, Leonard said he was grateful for the opportunity to work in Australia.

“I really appreciate the Australian Government and the Australia people because in my country there is no opportunity for jobs.”

Leonard said while there were a lot of university qualified people in the Solomon Islands, many could not find employment.

Through the PALM scheme, approved employers can recruit workers for seasonal jobs for up to nine months or for longer-term roles for between one and 4 years in unskilled, low-skilled and semi-skilled positions.

The PALM scheme is designed to help fill labour shortages in rural and regional Australia. It allows Pacific and Timor-Leste workers to take up jobs in Australia, develop their skills and send income home. Under the Scheme there are a range of requirements and regulations relating to accommodation and transport.

“I am here to work and Australia is such a beautiful and peaceful country. The people here are very friendly and welcoming.”

Mount Beata Community  Primary School
The Mount Beata Community Primary School in the Solomon Islands.

Modern Slavery Statement 2022

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Costa has published its third Modern Slavery Statement, covering the calendar year December 27, 2021 to January 1, 2023.

The Statement, which has been lodged on the Modern Slavery Statement Register,  outlines the ongoing actions we are taking to address and mitigate the risk of modern slavery within our operations and our supply chain, and where possible identify areas of improvement in our approach to human rights.

As Australia’s leading producer of fresh fruit and vegetables and with international operations in China and Morocco, we take seriously the role we play in protecting and promoting the human rights of workers in our business and across our supply chain.

In 2022, our focus has been on advancing the understanding and awareness of human rights across our business and ensuring our processes and actions properly protect human rights. Read more in our Statement below.

Growing careers at Costa Tomatoes

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Three new apprentices have joined the Costa Tomato operations in Guyra.

Neil Ashman, Andrew Pearson and Marty Ryan, who all come from the Guyra region, have started boilermaking apprenticeships, giving them a broad range of skills required in the maintenance of the glasshouse operation.

“Costa is very proud to support Neil, Andrew and Marty in the development of their careers and their skills are very important to the smooth operations of our Tomato glasshouse business,” Scot MacDonald, Costa State Manager, said.

“We hope this is the start of a long and successful career with the company. Facilitating training and jobs in Guyra for the upcoming generation is a win for these men, the Guyra community and the future of agriculture.”

Neil, Andrew and Marty, will be attending TAFE in Armidale as part of their Certificate III in Engineering and Metal Fabrication.

Marty Ryan, who went to school at Ben Lomond and Guyra schools before boarding at Farrer Memorial Agricultural High School in Tamworth, started working full-time with Costa towards the end of last year.

“I had wanted to get into the workforce but there weren’t a whole lot of opportunities in the region. Then I was offered an opportunity to do work experience with Costa.  I did two days’ work experience and that sold me.  Ever since I was about four years old I have wanted to build things and work with my hands,” Marty said.

“Joey Mills and Michael Fowler are an absolute pleasure to work for.  It’s pretty amazing to have this opportunity to work with a leading producer in the food industry. We are getting lots of opportunities working in this field as it is a very diverse company.”

Costa Maintenance Manager Joey Mills said he was honoured to have the new apprentices join his team.

Photo courtesy of Guyra Gazette: from left Brett Ryan, HR Manager, Andrew Pearson, Marty Ryan, Joey Mills, Maintenance Manager, Neil Ashman and Scot MacDonald, State Manager.