Paving a new era for ag gatherings | EDITORIAL

Paving a new era for ag gatherings | EDITORIAL

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Opinion
ADAPTED: The East Gippsland Vegetable Innovation Field Days adapted to the isolation and gathering restrictions by presenting sessions online through social media.

ADAPTED: The East Gippsland Vegetable Innovation Field Days adapted to the isolation and gathering restrictions by presenting sessions online through social media.

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EGVID blazed a trail for agriculture this month, embracing the digital era.

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THE word "pivot" has been appearing with increasing frequency during the coronavirus pandemic.

It's been used to describe businesses that have had to rapidly shift the way they do things due to the laws and environment changing around them.

While there is a risk it will reach annoying business-speak saturation point, it quite appropriately sums-up the manoeuvre by the East Gippsland Vegetable Innovation Days, now affectionately known as EGVID.

Held earlier this month at Lindenow, Victoria, the event showed what's possible when a nimble committee (with a farmer mindset) is confronted with a very large hurdle.

It was shaping up to be one of the largest events on the horticulture calendar.

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Coronavirus restrictions scuttled events left, right and centre.

Agriculture conferences were no exception with field days, shed meetings, annual forums and gala dinners all getting canned.

Except for EGVID.

Rather than see 12 months of preparation, including extensive vegetable plot trials, go to waste, organisers pivoted, utilising the digital realm under close consultation with the authorities.

Live videos, interviews, photos and social media comments all flowed onto the internet throughout the three day event.

Basically the only thing missing from being there was tasting a new lettuce variety and feeling the brisk East Gippsland breeze.

A controlled number of people went through the physical site at the time but if you include all those who watched or read something from their phones or computers, EGVID may have potentially attracted more "attendees" than ever.

Could ag conferences and gatherings actually double the number of participants by following this lead?

The event has more yet to give.

Presentations were filmed in order to create an online library to be housed on the Ausveg website in coming months.

In this way, this year's event will have a knowledge legacy, available to be tapped into for years to come.

The 2020 event was sponsored by Hort Innovation, Corteva, Agriculture Victoria, East Gippsland Shire Council and AusIndustry.

This list of backers, and there were plenty more, indicates the commercial side of horticulture was serious about stepping up to lend support when needed.

The event was a credit not only to the organising committee but to the horticulture industry as a whole.

It was a healthy depiction of the willingness of the industry to adapt and embrace technology available in order to make something work.

While livestock and broadacre organisations are scrambling to come up with ways to replace the beloved Royal Show circuit or annual saleyard gathering, horticulture led the way by showing what's possible.

So well done, EGVID.

Field days may never be the same again, and that's a good thing.

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