In this column, Vegetables Australia provides an overview of recent VegNET – Victoria (North, West and South-East regions) project activities, as well as new COVID-safe resources developed for Victorian growers by Victorian industry group, AUSVEG VIC.

While events planned for early in 2022 needed to be postponed due to COVID-19 restrictions in Victoria, the first three months of VegNET 3.0 have been a busy period for the AUSVEG-facilitated VegNET – Victoria (North, West and South-East) team.

Key outcomes from last three months of program

Enhanced grower awareness and decision making relating to native vegetation insectaries

VegNET – Victoria (South-East, West and Northern), previously delivered by RMCG, facilitated an R&D roadshow forum in mid-October 2019 with a focus on native veg

The Werribee South Native Vegetation Insectary pictured in March 2022, one year after planting.

etation insectaries at the CSIRO Food Innovation Centre in Werribee, Victoria.

The focus was to build on interest shown by several growers to learn more about insectaries. It included presentations from the Port Phillip and Westernport Catchment Management Authority and the project team behind Field and landscape management to support beneficial arthropods for IPM on vegetable farms (VG16062), a strategic levy investment under the Hort Innovation Vegetable Fund that was led by Charles Sturt University.

A key outcome from this workshop is the active exploration of external funding support to trial native vegetation insectaries (NVI) in the Werribee region.

In late March 2022, VegNET – Victoria teamed up with E.E. Muir & Sons Pty Ltd and Melbourne Water to host a NVI ‘open house’ at a vegetable farm in Werribee South.

Agriculture Victoria and AUSVEG staff were also on hand to offer free pest and disease diagnostics.

For more information on how to create an insectary on your own farm, including a suggested species planting list, please visit the AUSVEG VIC website. A fact sheet can be found here.

Helping growers make more informed decisions when considering new technologies or practices for improved soil moisture retention

The VegNET RDO was responsible for building industry networks with growers and agronomists in the northern and western regions. This includes connecting growers with industry stakeholders, agronomists and the State Government to ensure Victoria’s vegetable growers have access to the relevant information that can help them with their businesses.

AUSVEG VIC COVID-Safe video resources available to growers

Since the spread of COVID-19 in Australia began in March 2020, international borders closed, resulting in a severe reduction in workers in Victorian growing regions to harvest, package and process vegetables.

While the long-term outlook of managing COVID-19 may improve, two key areas of immediate concern that the Victorian horticulture industry continues to face are:

  • Ensuring worker and food safety protocols surrounding COVID-19 transmission; and
  • Access to the seasonal horticulture labour workforce.

Victorian vegetable industry peak body AUSVEG VIC, with support from the Victorian Government, has produced a video series promoting COVID-Safe practices, for workers to prevent the spread and transmission of COVID-19. The video series has translated subtitles in a few key languages identified:

  • Vietnamese.
  • Mandarin.
  • Bislama (Vanuatu’s native language).
  • Khmer (Cambodia’s native language) – voice over versions are also available for viewing.

The video series has been community-checked with accredited language and cultural experts for each of translation and is tailored specific to workers in the Victorian horticulture industry.

The series promotes the adoption of COVID-Safe practices, while highlighting the safe practices of Victorian horticulture to a broader audience of prospective workers for Victorian horticulture businesses.

Growers are encouraged to share these targeted industry specific resources with your council constituents, to further increase the adoption of COVID-Safe practices on Victorian horticulture farms.

To watch the videos, please click here.

Find out more

Please contact VegNET – Victoria (North, West and South-East regions) Regional Development Officer Danielle Park on 0432 324 822 or email

VegNET 3.0 is a strategic levy investment under the Hort Innovation Vegetable Fund.

This project has been funded by Hort Innovation using the vegetable research and development levy and contributions from the Australian Government.

Project Number: VG21000

Cover image: Pictured at the Werribee Open House (from L-R) Agriculture Victoria’s Cliff Kinoti and Quang Dinh, E. E. Muir & Sons Agronomist Stephen Moore, AUSVEG’s Danielle Park and Maddy Quirk, and consultant John Fletcher.