Award-winning Lara-based Boomaroo Nurseries has grown its operation to a remarkable annual capacity of 400 million seedlings and boasts a new technologically advanced facility in which plants can be automatically sown and dispatched with the touch of a button.
Now one of Australia’s largest vegetable seedling suppliers, Boomaroo is renowned for its premium-quality commercial seedlings, greenlife products, customer service and innovative approach to horticultural production.
It’s a long way from the small market garden started by brothers more than 30 years ago in the Werribee South growing region.
The Jacometti brothers identified that cell-grown transplantable seedlings offered produce growers significant benefits over the traditional direct seeding of crops in the paddock. This included crop uniformity, yield and reduced production costs. In a 40cm square footprint, up to 256 plants can be grown. These small, densely packed tray cells need less water, nutrients and inputs applied, resulting in less waste compared to growing produce from seed in the field.
Today, the family-owned business has facilities in both Lara, near Geelong, and Southbrook in Queensland, and supplies its seedlings to growers in Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia and Tasmania.
Boomaroo’s duo of state-of-the-art operations include 20 hectares of specialised growing areas and utilise automated handling systems, enhancing consistency, efficiency and reliability. Combined, the two facilities have the capability to produce up to 400 million vegetable seedlings annually across over 150 individual varieties and up to 2 million greenlife potted plants across over 100 product lines.
A 120-person strong team comprises skilled growers, agronomists, auditors, technicians, territory managers and support staff.
Boomaroo was awarded the 2020 Geelong Business Excellence Award for ‘Medium to Large Business’ and was a finalist in five other award categories.
Director Nick Jacometti says the award reflects the ongoing efforts of Boomaroo to deliver high-level service and a continued focus on Innovation, People, Business Sustainability and the Environment.
Mr Jacometti, an architect by trade, took on the role when his father Theo recently retired.
“I’ve taken his spot,” he tells GMC.
The Lara production line is semi-autonomous with plants watered and transported throughout the facility using shuttles and gantries, while the more recently commissioned Queensland operation went a step further with an “entirely no touch” system of rolling benches to transport plants utilising customised software.
“A plant doesn’t have a human hand touch it during its time in the nursery,” Mr Jacometti says. “From a smartphone or laptop you can say that these plants need to be relocated and off they go, off for dispatch on to a truck.
“We started from pretty humble beginnings and as we could afford it we have invested in the best technology possible for efficiency and plant health and consistency.”
Boomaroo recently gained organic certification at both its sites and expects this business unit, currently operated separately, has significant growth potential.
“We think organics will be the future and will only have an increased market share as time goes on,” Mr Jacometti says.