Each year, AUSVEG recognises a leading female member of the Australian horticulture industry who has demonstrated outstanding ability and success in her chosen field. In this edition, Michelle De’Lisle speaks with previous Women in Horticulture award winners, Kerri-Ann Lamb and Tina Lamattina, who received the accolade in 2012 and 2015 respectively. The Boomaroo Nurseries Women in Horticulture award for 2021 will be handed out at the National Awards for Excellence Gala Dinner, to be held at Hort Connections on 9 June.

For 40 years, Tina Lamattina has been working alongside her husband Russell on their Mornington Peninsula growing operation. It was a sea change for Tina, a self-described “city girl.”

“It didn’t take long to form a deep love and appreciation for an industry that is both rewarding and honourable,” Tina says.

“At the time, I was fortunate that Russell and I shared all the roles of our family life – from raising the children, to working on and in the business. I studied business and finance in order to fulfill a role within the business, so I guess my role evolved as necessity dictated.”

It was these various roles that captured the attention of the horticulture industry. In 2012, Tina was honoured with the Women in Horticulture award for her success in handling the administrative, accounting, quality assurance and environmental aspects of the Lamattina Group.

“I was extremely honoured to be part of a group of women who have influenced the industry in so many diverse ways. Women have always been pivotal in this industry’s success and I was proud that the role of women in horticulture was celebrated,” Tina says.

Tina Lamattina, winner of the 2012 Women in Horticulture award.

Opportunities abroad

Receiving the award opened doors for Tina, who was invited by Monsanto to speak on a grower’s panel in St. Louis, Missouri in the United States.

“While there, we were able to tour their breeding facilities at Creve Coeur and Chesterfield and speak with many of the scientists that are at the cutting edge of technology. It was an opportunity I believe would not have been available had it not been for winning the award,” she says.

Additionally, Tina has participated in the 2014 Women’s Study Tour to the U.S.A. and then in 2016, attended the European Industry Leadership and Development Mission.

“By participating in both of these industry-funded tours, we gained valuable knowledge into the different facets that make up our industry from other people’s perspective globally, as well as sharing the different views with the people we travelled with,” Tina says.

Next-gen focus

From humble beginnings, the business is now being run by Tina and Russell’s six children, who are the third generation in the family business.

“Along with Russell and me, they share the same deep love and appreciation for the industry they grew up in,” Tina says.

“I believe that it has been that experience that has resulted in our children taking roles within the business from administration, farm management, agronomy to plant technology, which allows them to continue to develop their own skills to enable the business to grow.

“Our children have always seen it as a natural progression, and I am proud that they have embraced the challenges along with the rewards.”

Tina adds the opportunities for her family are “endless”.

“We have the ability to expand our operation not just in the next decade, but in the future by growing more lines and diversifying our production capabilities. We have a few irons in the fire at the moment, so I guess we will see how things develop,” she says.

“To leave the legacy of this industry to the next generation, we need to ensure that it is in the most environmentally sustainable and economically viable position possible. To do that, we need to invest in our businesses and industry to ensure its growth – not just its survival.”