Growers in the southern Queensland region have endured a tough summer and start to autumn with floods severely affecting the area. VegNET – Southern Queensland continues to support growers, as well as hosting a number of engaging events. The project also welcomes a new Regional Development Officer, Caley Croft. Vegetables Australia reports.

Southern Queensland has had a difficult end of the summer season with various weather events directly or indirectly impacting growers in the region.

Record floods affected many farms in the region and the clean-up is likely to be ongoing. Growers not directly impacted by flood waters suffered crop losses due to the incredible volumes of rain throughout the south-east. Supply chain challenges and lingering COVID-19 issues have only made it even more challenging for growers.

Despite these challenges, the VegNET project has proved to be a success for growers in southern Queensland. The first six months of the new iteration (VegNET 3.0) has seen the delivery of a number of events to help growers implement on the ground best practice, and support long-term profitability and sustainability.

VegNET activities

In late October, a grower seminar was held to provide industry with updated information on insect pests, the Gatton Smart Farm initiative, and new water opportunities for the Lockyer Valley. This was followed by a VegNET 2 project wrap-up and an introduction to VegNET 3.0. The event was well-attended and provided a useful knowledge development opportunity for the local grower community.

Mid-December saw the project host a grower seminar for the local LOTE growers. The event was strongly supported and included information of the management of soil-borne pests, optimising spray efficiency and an introduction to accreditation programs.

Engaging with local LOTE communities is a focus area for the project, and this provides a great opportunity to co-develop knowledge with a wide variety of growers and industry members. Attendees walked away from the event with language-specific resources including best management for post-harvest storage for cucumber, impact of pesticides on beneficial arthropods, and biosecurity, to name a few.

Comedian and TV personality Peter Helliar (centre) pictured with Lockyer Valley Growers Secretary Tammy Litzow (left) and Treasurer Sharron Windolf at the ‘Touched by Cancer Charity Gala Dinner.’

Gala Dinner success

Most recently, Peter Helliar and Lockyer Valley Growers hosted the ‘Touched by Cancer Charity Gala Dinner’. Over 500 industry members and guests gathered under The Grand Marquee, where $115,000 was raised for Icon Cancer Foundation.

The event was a great opportunity for the community to come together after a challenging few months for a great cause.

Farewell Zara, welcome Caley

The end of summer also saw our long serving Regional Development Officer, Zara Hall, moving on to bigger and better things. Zara served the local grower community incredibly over her tenure and will be sorely missed by all.

With every ending is a new beginning and Lockyer Valley Growers was excited to welcome Caley Croft to the VegNET – Southern Queensland RDO role in late April.

Caley grew up on a farm in the Lockyer Valley and is closely connected to the grower community. She comes to the role from an education background and is also the Founding Director of RRAD Communities, a local non-profit charity for youth and community.

Caley is excited to join the VegNET team to help deliver meaningful impacts for the local grower community.

Find out more

Please email ido@lockyervalleygrowers.com.au.

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: The ‘Touched by Cancer Charity Gala Dinner’, which was a huge success.