The NGIA ‘Share the Vision – The Road Ahead’ National Conference delivered an enjoyable few days from 15-17 February where Adelaide turned on magnificent weather for all the delegates.
With over 200 delegates attending the NGIA National Conference each day there was ample opportunity for interstate colleagues and friends to catch up and hear about the future direction for the nursery and garden industry in Australia.
The 25 booth exhibition featured a beautiful green-life display and played host to innovative and reliable products and services.
Conference rooms transformed into green spaces, with thanks to Darwin Plant Wholesalers, Heyne’s Wholesale Nursery and Fairview Plant Wholesalers, where a mix of plenary and concurrent sessions informed and educated delegates.
The pre-conference tours kicked off early Monday morning with the Grafting Techniques Workshop and Future Leadership Forum held in the afternoon.
The retail tour spent the day visiting the historical and award winning Newman’s Nursery after which they relaxed amongst majestic gum trees of Garden Grove Supplies. The tour caught up with industry icon Milton Vadoulis at Vadoulis Garden Centre before inspecting the recently reopened and fully renovated Barossa Nursery. The tour finished up at the largest retail garden centre in SA, Virginia Nursery.
The production tour visited 5th generation Heyne’s Wholesale Nursery to see advanced and super advanced stock before heading to Edinburgh Parks Nursery, a specialist in propagating and growing native plants for revegetation and large landscape projects. They also visited Virginia Nursery which has a commercial vegetable seedling site before ending the tour at premier seedling nursery, Living Colour Plant Nursery.
The Grafting Techniques workshop was well attended with participants hearing from experts Ian Tolley, Kate Delaporte and Wayne Farquhar. Kym Syrus, from In the Garden, filmed during the workshop - the program is due to air in South Australia on 20 March 2016.
The Future Leadership Forum brought together twenty industry representatives who have chosen the nursery and garden industry for their career. The purpose of the forum was to provide an opportunity for the future leaders to discuss critical issues affecting the industry now and in the future. The contributions of this group will be submitted to various industry groups, including the Structure Review Committee and the NGIA Board to help guide the industry for the next 20 years.
OFFICIAL OPENING AND CONFERENCE SESSIONS
His Excellency the Honourable Hieu Van Le, Governor of South Australia and Senator Anne Ruston, Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources (Horticulture) were guests of the NGIA Board. Both attended Tuesday morning to tour the conference exhibition and Welcome Breakfast which was sponsored by Yates.
The conference was officially opened by the Governor with delegates treated to a personal story on why lemongrass now grows in the grounds of Government House. Mike Mehigan, President of NGIA then welcomed delegates and immediately started the discussion on the road ahead for the structure of the industry.
Senator Ruston then followed speaking of her background in nursery production horticulture and outlining the responsibilities of her portfolio. Senator Ruston was quick to address the growing disquiet of the transition in the statutory bodies of Horticulture Australia Limited to Horticulture Innovation Australia Limited (Hort Innovation). The Senator noted that during the transition ‘the baby had been thrown out with the bath water’, and recognised the importance of peak industry bodies in the consultation process for determining levy funding priorities. Senator Ruston encouraged levy payers to join Hort Innovation and be a part of the discussions and welcomed questions from the floor. Attendees were encouraged by her clear support of the nursery industry and are eager to see how this position translates through Hort Innovation.
The afternoon session began with David Moore of Hort Innovation presenting an update on the organisations transition, levy receipts and R & D priorities. Peter Vaughan, CEO of NGIA followed, outlining the strategic priorities of the industry for 2016 to 2020 from the draft strategic plan which is due to be finalised in the coming months. Ben Peacock of Republic of Everyone was a crowd favourite, updating the industry on the 202020 Vision program - a strongly supported levy funded initiative to grow the greenlife market by increasing urban greenlife by 20% by 2020.
Delegates had been asked to hold questions of afternoon speakers for the panel session which concluded the session. David Moore, Peter Vaughan, Ben Peacock were joined by NGIA President Mike Mehigan and Vice President Hamish Mitchell for a spirited discussion in which the levy funded activities of Hort Innovation were raised. Despite the heavy content, this was an opportunity for industry to share their opinion and the session captured a great idea from Liz Smith of Horticulture Training Limited to promote the 202020 Vision through a labelling scheme that could form matched funding for the Pool 2 activities of Hort Innovation. The day did not end there!
Taking advantage of the fortuitous collision of the 2016 National Conference with the famous Adelaide Fringe Festival, delegates were given access to the popular Fringe Club where they were treated to exclusive spotlight Fringe performances. The night was filled with sparkle and colour with some taking advantage of the Fringe Glamour Tent. This event was proudly supported by Conference Platinum sponsor Garden City Plastics.
Conference attendees returned on day two to variety of concurrent sessions to meet the information needs of our diverse industry.
The final afternoon of the conference was led by an outstanding storyteller in Glenn Cooper AM of Coopers Brewery. Glenn shared the exceptional vision of his forefathers in the formation of a resilient company structure, the hostile attempt of takeover by Lion Nathan, Coopers emotional victory in staying family owned; as well as some simply humorous and extraordinarily effective marketing campaigns. The comic genius of Dan Gregory from The Impossible Institute ensured a room of laughter while demonstrating a deeper look into human behaviour and its impact on modern marketing. Both men were outstanding and absolute highlights of the Conference.
Ending the day was Dr John Hewson who updated delegates on both the international and domestic economies and the impact of each on the other. He shared bipartisan opinion on the current political state of play providing insights of what to expect from the major party policy areas. John highlighted the growing need for industries to consolidate their representation to avoid dilution of message and supported the comment through his contribution to the restructure of the Arthritis Foundation and took questions from delegates. He was certainly an educating and informative speaker.
Hamish Mitchell returned to the lectern to provide the delegates with an overview of the two days of conference. Hamish highlighted key learnings from the conference, outlined ways business and industry can improve. Finally, he encouraged everyone to be focused on future for greenlife and to ultimately be unified in our work to achieve our shared vision.
The Adelaide Hilton then transformed to deliver the industry’s night of nights, the Nursery & Garden Awards Gala Dinner. Recognising the industry’s outstanding performers the evening was filled with celebration and was a fitting conclusion to the national biannual conference.
Thanks go to Verity James the Conference MC who eloquently managed the plenary and social functions and whose vivacious personality brought infectious fun to the conference.
Thanks also go to the 2016 Conference sponsors who contributed greatly to such an amazing conference. Sponsors include: Garden City Plastics, Yates, Norwood Industries, Darwin Plant Wholesalers, Heyne’s Wholesale Nursery, ICL, Van Shaik’s bio gro, Outdoor Design Source, Hort Journal, Greenworld, Seasol and Balhannah Nurseries.
The 2016 Nursery & Garden Industry national conference had support funding by Horticulture Innovation Australia Limited with coinvestment from Nursery & Garden Industry Australia and funds from the Australian Government.
For more information including the full conference program, available speaker presentations and national award winners visit www.ngia.com.au.