Bringing the hort family together | OPINION

Bringing the hort family together | OPINION


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Horticulture is like a jumbled, disconnected family and bringing it together can prove a challenge.

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EDITORIAL

WE forgot to get the family snap at the end of Hort Connections.

That's the tradition right, when it comes to family get-togethers – take a big group snap at the end?

Horticulture is one big family.

Like every clan, there are a few rivalries; a few members that don't see eye to eye and some awkward outsiders but that's what makes a family interesting.

Hort Connections felt a bit like that – a big family reunion. There's something special about sharing the same space and experiences over three days.

It tends to unite people and that was certainly the thrust of the conference.  

This journal has long called for greater unity within the horticulture sector so it was well pleasing to see the coming together of Ausveg and the Produce Marketing Association Australia – New Zealand in Adelaide.

As with most reunions, most are happy to be there but some members won't make it because the entire extended family hasn't quite embraced the concept yet.

Imagine the size of the thing if the industry got truly serious about collaboration?

According to Ausveg, the event broke records with 2489 delegates. Some zealous predictions got up to 4000 but perhaps that was the free coffee talking.

Keep in mind that’s without the involvement of apples, citrus, bananas, stonefruit, mangoes, olives, avocados, berries, grapes or the combined tree nut industries.

Imagine the size of the thing if the industry got truly serious about collaboration?

If horticulture is to be united and command the attention it deserves, it'll need all the heavy hitters to be in one room at some stage.

So that figure of 4000 attendees might very well be possible if those other industries were involved.

In a recent column, National Farmers' Federation chief executive officer, Tony Mahar, wrote that with horticulture being such a fragmented and diverse sector ("think turf to tomatoes to trees"), creating a unified voice is no small feat.

"To help achieve a united front the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) has unashamedly been seeking to improve and strengthen our engagement and collaboration with the horticulture industry,” Mr Mahar wrote.

That’s a welcome sign and should be pursued. 

The beef industry, also fragmented by breeds, societies and associations, has claimed almost an entire week with "Beef Australia", held every three years, taking over the Rockhampton showgrounds with an almost festival-like atmosphere.

Is such a thing possible for horticulture? Never say never. 

A tradition has been started at a few horticulture gatherings now where, instead of cutting a ribbon or slicing a cake, dignitaries or organisers cut a lettuce to signify the opening.

Perhaps it's something the industry could own, beginning at Hort Connections 2018 in Brisbane, when all the family gets together again.

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