Over the last decade, AUSVEG has recognised the leading female members of the Australian horticulture industry who have demonstrated outstanding ability and success in their chosen fields.

Those who have received the Women in Horticulture award continue to inspire and influence the industry, and it recognises the key role that women play in ensuring Australian horticulture continues to be a strong contributor to the country’s agricultural sector.

In Vegetables Australia – Summer 2020/21, Michelle De’Lisle speaks to four horticulture industry members who received one of the industry’s highest accolades from the National Awards for Excellence, which is held each year at Hort Connections (formerly known as the National Horticulture Convention).

Belinda Adams, Deborah Corrigan, Rachel Mackenzie and Sharron Windolf share what has changed since they received their awards as well as what they’re doing today, and their plans for the future. Keep your eye out for next edition of the magazine, with more profiles to come.

Belinda Adams (QLD, 2013)

Tucked away in the Gold Coast hinterland is Coastal Hydroponics, a producer of a variety of salad mixes, including rocket, 4 leaf and spinach.

Belinda Adams is the face of the business – as General Manager, her responsibilities include purchasing, sales, processing, human resourcing and regulatory controls. The 2013 Women in Horticulture winner is also currently the AUSVEG Deputy Chair and Chair of Growcom, Queensland’s peak body for horticulture.

Belinda reflects on receiving the Women in Horticulture award more than seven years ago.

“I was quite new to industry involvement at the time, so to be recognised for my contribution was so fabulous,” Belinda says.

“I had been working so hard on the business and needed to expand my knowledge of the industry. I also desired to be involved and implement change. The award was a catalyst to continue with this journey and explore what I could achieve.”

Belinda has certainly achieved that. Since 2013, she has stepped into a numbers of leadership roles within the industry and significantly broadened her involvement.

“I have learnt that by saying ‘yes’ to opportunities as they come your way expose you to greater learnings, and a wide array of people and content. I have been involved in so many amazing projects and achieved so much within the past seven years,” Belinda says.

The industry activities and initiatives Belinda has engaged in vary. She attended the 2018 Women’s Industry Leadership and Development Mission – a strategic levy investment under the Hort Innovation Vegetable Fund – and has been a Hort Innovation’s Consumer Alignment and Tender Advisory panel member. Belinda is on the steering committee for the EnviroVeg Program, as well as many other peak industry committees.

Raising a voice

Belinda relishes her role as AUSVEG Deputy Chair. She joined the AUSVEG Board after recognising the significant role that the peak body plays nationally.

“AUSVEG has represented the industry in advocacy and project delivery for a long time. I align with the values of the business and recognise the ongoing role it must play to deliver long-term results for growers,” Belinda says.

“My goal is to enhance the branding of AUSVEG – connecting growers, consumers and stakeholders to improve the return to growers through strong advocacy and consumer connection. Hence the launch of our brand, eat more AUSVEG: A simple message that connects our purpose.”

As Growcom Chair, Belinda aims to drive continual change and explore opportunities to improve the outcomes for Queensland growers.

“We also have national coverage for Fair Farms, which is a significant achievement for an industry-owned program,” she says.

“I intend to see Growcom prosper, managing the delivery of significant projects as well as delivering strong messages to Government to protect and serve the needs of growers. As well as driving that same connection between our end users, consumers, and growers.”

A highlight of Belinda’s career to date is announcing the roll-out of Growcom’s Fair Farms Initiative on national television alongside Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Fair Farms is an industry-led initiative aimed at fostering fair and responsible employment practices in Australian horticulture.

However, Belinda’s passion for the horticulture industry extends well beyond advocacy and policy decision-making.

“I absolutely love the people I get to meet and work with. Everyone has amazing stories to tell and we are all so humble in our achievements,” Belinda says.

“There is so much support for me to achieve in my roles, and networking is my favourite thing to do.”

Belinda Adams won the Women in Horticulture award in 2013.

Click on each name to read the stories of three other previous Women in Horticulture award winners: Deborah Corrigan, Rachel Mackenzie and Sharron Windolf

This article features in the summer 2020 edition of Vegetables Australia. Click here to read the full publication. 

Find out more

Hort Connections 2021 will be held from 7-9 June 2021 at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre, and early bird registrations are now open.

More details around the event will be released in the coming months. For more information or to register, please visit the Hort Connections website.