A HAWKESBURY-based horticultural advisory officer has been honoured for more than three decades of service to the industry which included a founding role in the start of commercial hydroponic and greenhouse vegetable production in the Greater Sydney Region.
Greater Sydney Local Land Services horticulturist, Leigh James, officially hung up his hat earlier this month with his colleagues and clients, past and present, all paying tribute.
Greater Sydney Local Land Services general manager, David Hogan, said Mr James’s achievements over three decades had been widely recognised by both government and industry.
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“Leigh was instrumental in the establishment of the commercial greenhouse vegetable as well as the hydroponic vegetable industries in Sydney with both of these still continuing to thrive today,” he said.
“He also played a key role in in engaging with the growing multicultural population and in 1989 established a program with the Arabic, Cambodian, Chinese, Maltese and Vietnamese growing communities to reduce the use of pesticides and increase their crop yields.”
In 2005, Mr James’s efforts saw him awarded the NSW Premiers Award for his work with greenhouse and hydroponic growers in the Sydney region and engagement with multicultural communities.
Other achievements include helping establish the Sydney Hydroponic Association and leading a number of National and State-wide projects to support growers in partnership with Hort Innovation Australia, particularly with greenhouse cucumbers, diamondback moth, clubroot and organic compost.
Mr Hogan said Mr James was also one of the founding fathers of the Greater Sydney Demonstration Farm.
“Greater Sydney Local Land Services has heavily invested into realising the vision that Leigh and his then colleagues started and together we were able to create a successful and thriving space for industry and growers to gather showcasing best practice vegetable growing based on the latest research,” he said.
“The work Leigh started played a key role in the success of the Demonstration Farm and will carry on well into the future.”
As well as all this, Mr James has been a judge of the Hawkesbury Show vegetable exhibits for 20 years and the Sydney Show for 30 years where he was awarded a Long Service Award from the Royal Agricultural Society.
Mr James said the support from his peers was exceptional.
“I have been lucky enough to work with some great people across the state and also get to make a lasting difference the growers in my local region of the Hawkesbury which has meant a lot,” he said.
“But it’s time for the next stage and I look forward to seeing the Sydney vegetable industry continue to adapt and grow into the future.”