Grower’s passion for plants, people and the environment

11th Jan 2022

Kerrie Galley, Grower Manager at the Costa Tomato glasshouses in Guyra has a passion for plants, people and the environment.
Growing up in country Victoria, Kerrie began working in produce as a 14-year-old – thinning carrots and picking potatoes at a neighbour’s farm in West Gippsland.
“Like many country kids I didn’t watch television and was always outside. After school and on the weekends, I was working on the farm, riding my pony to work. From then on, I have always been very connected with growing fresh produce and working outside,” she said.
After finishing school Kerrie spent two years working in Canada and the United States, as a green grocer in Vancouver, Canada, and then as an intern on an organic farm in the US. On her return to Australia, she started working with tomato grower Flavorite in Warragul, Victoria.
“I started with them before they built any glasshouses. When I started we were growing in sawdust bags under plastic. The business kept growing and I was given more challenges and opportunities,” Kerrie said.
“I travelled overseas three times with the company looking at new innovation and technology and absorbing that back into the business.”
She also completed a Master of Business Administration, helping her become more focused on training and development of teams.
After 18 years with Flavorite, Kerrie was looking for a new challenge and moved to South Australia, growing tomatoes, mini cucumbers, and capsicums.
“It was really good to learn about working in a new climate, where the growing conditions were up to 45 degrees outside.”
Kerrie then took a year off to write a book, which is still in progress, before moving to Guyra to take up a position as Grower Manager.
Passionate about the environment and the wilderness, Kerrie said her novel was a literary adventure about protecting endangered species.
“I wanted to be back in the country and coming to Guyra it really feels like home. The Northern Tablelands is a beautiful region with lots of National Parks.
“I am so happy to be back growing. There are lots of challenges, but I feel really proud of what we do. We are feeding the population, but we are doing it smarter using less water and less resources.
“Across the company we are facing the challenges together. Our farming future is going to be different and you need a good team behind you.”
As for what makes tomato growing special Kerrie said it was the combination of working with plants and people.
“Everyday is different, it’s very dynamic and rewarding. I have 350,000 plants in my care and my team’s care. We are kind of the coach, and the plants are the athletes, and we are trying to keep them fit and strong.
“It’s rewarding because we are doing something that is so essential. It’s intellectual, it’s physical (walking up to 10 kilometres a day), it’s very social and then you get the nature. I love all of that and feel very fortunate.”