Project VG19001 was facilitated by Food and Fibre Gippsland and East Gippsland Vegetable Innovation Days in collaboration with AUSVEG.

Major findings

Up to 1,000 people were expected to attend the 2020 East Gippsland Vegetable Innovation Days (EGVID) from May 4-8 before the COVID-19 pandemic saw strict restrictions placed on travel movements and crowd numbers. Rather than cancel the event entirely, organisers capped attendance at 60 people per half-day, and rapidly implemented a virtual experience for those unable to participate on the ground.

“We turned our focus to ensuring that the effort that had already been invested into growing seed trials and demonstration sites wouldn’t be wasted,” EGVID event coordinator Bonnie Dawson explained.

Project VG19001 supported the production of 25 videos of trial sites and presentations that were part of the original program. All but one of the participating seed and crop improvement companies took up the offer to capture content, and the series of clips was filmed during the Innovation Days while the site was in its prime. The videos have been uploaded to the AUSVEG website in an online catalogue format, enabling users to compare different crops, seed companies and products.

“We believe that this is a unique way to be able to research these products,” Ms Dawson said.

Digital technology also gave growers instant access to individual sites, with the EGVID event team and Soil Wealth and Integrated Crop Protection (ICP) project team scheduling and streaming regular live crosses over Facebook.

“These were popular among our followers, and provided the opportunity for industry members ‘playing along at home’ to get in touch and encourage their industry colleagues from afar,” Ms Dawson said.

“A lot of the people who physically attended EGVID also viewed some of the videos that were streamed in order to get a recap of the site or to gain a different perspective, while the companies involved have also shared the interviews and site walk-throughs with their own followers.”

A strategic levy investment under the Hort Innovation Vegetable Fund, Digitisation of East Gippsland Vegetable Innovation Days (VG19001) also enabled the Soil Wealth and ICP project team to deliver an EGVID webinar, with viewers across the country logging on to learn the results of a cover crop trial.


While those who attended EGVID in person benefited from having time and space for discussions with seed company representatives, the digitisation of the innovation days created a highly effective platform for disseminating information to stakeholders.

“Although nothing fully replaces face-to-face interactions, being forced to take content online has given a wider audience access to the innovations that were on display,” Ms Dawson said.

“It’s a valuable resource for growers and will be available for years to come.”

The innovative direction may have been implemented in the face of adversity, but it has seen EGVID evolve into a new format that will not only be integrated into future events – it will set a new benchmark for this type of industry event.

“Participant feedback has indicated that we should include live streaming, the use of social media and video production in future events,” Ms Dawson said.

The 2020 experience has also highlighted the value in pre-registering smaller groups for designated sessions.

“Many of the growers and company representatives who were present commented that they valued having more time for key customers without large numbers competing for their attention, and therefore, it’s likely that part of any future EGVID would also follow this structure,” Ms Dawson said.


In early 2018, a small delegation of Australian growers, agronomists and researchers travelled to Spain to attend the International Spinach Conference and tour local growing operations and seed trial sites. On the back of this tour, EGVID successfully lobbied to host the 10th International Spinach Conference in East Gippsland in May 2020.

Due to COVID-19, the International Spinach Conference was postponed, and crowd numbers at EGVID were significantly reduced to meet strict social distancing rules. As a result, the decision was made to stage EGVID predominantly online.

The production of 25 videos of the trial sites and presentations that were developed for the 2020 program gave growers virtual access to information and innovation available at the event, with the videos now available via the levy-funded industry communications program delivered by AUSVEG.


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

Further information

The EGVID 2020 videos can be found here.

Please contact EGVID Event Coordinator and Food & Fibre Gippsland Regional Development Officer, Bonnie Dawson, on 0407 683 938 or email


This story featured in Vegenotes 81 – Winter 2021. Want to read more? Click here to access the full catalogue of AUSVEG publications. If you would like to receive hard copies of any publication for free, click here to subscribe!