Local greengrocer picked as cream of the crop and awarded industry-first scholarship

A Chadstone Victoria local is one of the first recipients of the Melbourne Market Authority (MMA) Greengrocery Scholarship, enabling him to undertake an industry-first qualification after decades in the trade.

With over 30 years’ of on-the-job experience, Anthony Natoli (52) has been recognised for his industry knowledge and awarded a full-tuition scholarship to complete Certificate III in Greengrocery at Melbourne Polytechnic.

The qualification is the first of its kind in Australia, providing those in the industry an opportunity to be formally recognised for their trade.

“Despite over 34 years of experience working with fresh produce, I realised I had nothing to show for my wealth of industry knowledge. Enrolling in the course at Melbourne Polytechnic was an opportunity to finally have something on paper to back up my hands-on experience,” said Anthony.

“Having this industry-recognised qualification is important to bring new talent into the industry and help our trade to be taken seriously.”

Certificate III in Greengrocery has been developed by Melbourne Polytechnic together with the MMA to provide retail grocery workers with a formal qualification.

Committing $15,000 to launch the new course, the MMA Greengrocery Scholarship will help support the first group of students who train in the course with full ($1,450) or part ($725) tuition.

Mark Maskiell, Chief Executive Officer of Melbourne Market Authority (MMA), commented “For retail grocery workers, Certificate III in Greengrocery is a nod of appreciation to a previously unrecognised profession.

“As a trade that’s often taken for granted, the MMA is proud to support students like Anthony to advance their experience to the next level and to help them provide exceptional customer service across Victoria.

“As well as providing a recognised qualification for those already in the industry, the course is an ideal start for those wanting to begin a career in fresh produce.”

After seeing the scholarship program advertised in a market newsletter, Anthony jumped at the chance to refresh his knowledge and become the first of his industry peers to undertake the qualification.  

Passed down from his father, Anthony’s passion for fresh produce stems from a childhood spent in his parents’ suburban fruit shop.

“As a kid, I was always in the shop and at the wholesale markets with my father; that’s where it started for me. At 17, I started working for my parents – wholesaling, providoring and supplying a supermarket chain with fresh produce,” continued Anthony.

After working with his parents for 12 years, Anthony’s experience saw him branch out and run three businesses in Melbourne’s South East. Anthony is currently managing a fruit shop in Bentleigh, overseeing the day-to-day store operations and providing fresh food for his local community.

In light of the post-COVID-19 economy, Certificate III in Greengrocery will help contribute to ensuring retail grocery workers can continue to service small and medium-sized businesses across Victoria.

“Greengrocery is a challenging career but a rewarding one. I really enjoy the relationships you build along the way, not only with customers but also growers.

“This course is going to give the next generation a guide as to what to expect in the greengrocery industry and insight into what a career in fresh produce really looks like.”

Anthony commenced the course in January 2021, and is looking forward to completing the qualification in September.

“The teachers have been really great and supportive. We’re covering food safety, fresh produce knowledge, health safety and point-of-sale aspects of the job.”

Hospitality Teacher at Melbourne Polytechnic, Peter Romano, commented “The first cohort of students receiving this scholarship are paving the way for a more sustainable future in the fresh produce industry.

“For the first time, retail grocery workers from varied backgrounds are coming together in the classroom to, not only further their own expertise, but also share their wealth of experience with one another.”

Certificate III in Greengrocery demonstrates Melbourne Polytechnic’s commitment to producing programs that support essential industries through practical training. The course will assist in the employability of those already working in the greengrocery sector and support them to further excel at their trade.

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