This man farms the 'best' avocados on the Northern Rivers
WHEN Avocado Tom was announced as the business of the year at the Alstonville Wollongbar Chamber of Commerce Business and Community Awards last month, owner Tom Silver could barely believe his ears.
The big win came just after they were celebrating their first win of the gala night, taking home the agricultural business category.
"We were thrilled, shocked and humbled to win," co-owner and Tom's wife, Veronica Silver said.
"We were up against some really good businesses. To win [business of the year] wasn't even on the radar. We are quite humbled that the Chamber selected us. It wasn't expected at all."
Tom said they had been hoping to win the agricultural category, but were "blown away" to hear they had been chosen as the business of the year.
"Over the years we've won a few best produce awards at local shows, but nothing like this," he laughs.
Established five years ago, Avocado Tom built on more than 32 years of the Silver family's farming experience.
"Avocado Tom came out of a need to secure the farm's future. In agriculture, you always go through tough times, and there will always be tough times again," Tom said.
The Silvers have been slowly growing the business, and have diversified their produce by introducing different avocado varieties to help extend their growing season.
The farm has 2500 trees of varying ages, and grow premium Hass avocados, as well as Shepard and Sharwil, which is known as "one of the best tasting avos in the world".
"We supply the best avocados to the best cafes, restaurants and markets in the best place on earth," Tom said.
"There is a real desire for locally grown produce, you know, something that chefs can trust."
Avocado Tom is a family operation, with everyone pitching in where they can, as well as two full time employees.
"It means a lot of long hours," Veronica said.
"We have a busy home life with three kids, but that's just the way it has got to be."
They are now expanding their produce into Brunswick Heads.
"We don't really advertise or anything, we mostly just rely on word of mouth and goodwill. We let our excellent reputation speak for itself. Our customers know that we have top quality local produce, that is reliable, good value, and affordable," Tom said.
"We're not trying to be the biggest, but the best."
The Silvers pride themselves on looking for ways they can make their produce and practices better, including Tom paying a visit to leading avocado growers in California, to see how they work.
"We're producing smaller trees, which is something that growers in Australia don't really do," Tom said.
"Smaller trees are safer, and help a grower utilise land to the maximum potential."
The business is proud to help out the community where they can, supplying produce to local schools, the rubgy club and supporting local organisations.
"Especially for taco nights," he jokes.
"We're always in high demand."
Visit their website http://avocadotom.com.au/ or follow them on Facebook and Instagram.