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Fruitful journey from shed hand to nursery manager

Celebrating her recently achieved dual horticultural qualifications is Simpson Farms Nursery Manager Sonia Furlonger. Also pictured are Shaun Waterton, Trainer with Queensland Small Business Courses and horticultural assistant Mary Ann Rivera (front) and Simpson Farms Executive Director Simon Crabbe (rear, right) and Operations Manager Dale Schneider.
Celebrating her recently achieved dual horticultural qualifications is Simpson Farms Nursery Manager Sonia Furlonger. Also pictured are Shaun Waterton, Trainer with Queensland Small Business Courses and horticultural assistant Mary Ann Rivera (front) and Simpson Farms Executive Director Simon Crabbe (rear, right) and Operations Manager Dale Schneider.

The journey from packing shed hand to farm nursery manager has been a long but fruitful one for Simpson Farms employee Sonia Furlonger.

Sonia, who started work in an avocado packing shed in 2003, was last week presented with dual horticultural qualifications following six months of study and demonstrated practical skills.

Simpson Farms Executive Director for Farming, Simon Grabbe, presented Sonia with her Cert 111 in Rural Operations and Cert 111 in Production Nursery.

Mr Grabbe said the organisation was extremely proud of Sonia’s achievements which were gained through dedication to hard work and an open mind to learning.

Sonia Furlonger pictured with Simpson Farms Executive Director Simon Grabbe following the presentation of her dual certificates.
Sonia Furlonger pictured with Simpson Farms Executive Director Simon Grabbe following the presentation of her dual certificates.

“Sonia’s achievements are in line with the required training and upskilling the company encourages from its employees to maintain its position as an industry leader,” he said.

Sonia’s trainer and assessor, Shaun Waterton of Queensland Small Business Courses, said Sonia had demonstrated a natural application and commendable diligence to her courses which provided her with advanced knowledge in the horticultural industry.

Sonia said her journey started with packing and then incorporated processing and batching with significant involvement in quality control.

“I think having that all-round experience stood me in good stead to take on this current role in the nursery,” she said.

“My job is to ensure we have sufficient stock for the company farms, and this involves grafting both avocado and mango plants.”

Sonia said the nursery side of the farming operation now involved a greater emphasis on collecting data.

“Fertilisers, soil moisture, things like that now have to be recorded more accurately,” she said.

“I look forward to further training courses and further improvement to my knowledge.”

Simpson Farms produce around 1.5 million avocados annually on local farms spanning around 850 hectares making them one of the largest growers in Australia.

Simpson Farms Nursery Manager Sonia Furlonger at work in the greenhouse.
Simpson Farms Nursery Manager Sonia Furlonger at work in the greenhouse.

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