East Gippsland’s vegetable growers have produced three days of industry collaboration at Maddies Paddock in Lindenow, despite coronavirus.
The East Gippsland Vegetable Innovation Days (EGVID), originally meant to concur with the 10th International Spinach Conference, cancelled due to COVID-19, followed the strict onsite regulations and turned to online engagement.
AUSVEG chairman and third generation Gippsland farmer, Bill Bulmer, and Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, declared the event officially open with a ceremonial cutting of a cauliflower last Tuesday.
Spread across two hectares, the EGVID site featured over 1500 lines including lettuce, cauliflower, broccoli, baby spinach leaf, kale and celery, as well as a number of different herbs.
The event involved seed companies as well as a number of agricultural chemical, fertiliser and biostimulant companies that trialled products on a selection of crops to demonstrate effectiveness and impact.
The event pivoted to be a national demonstration and data collection site on May 5-7, and via a series of regular live events every day on social media, organisers were able to connect thousands of people from near and far via the screen.
“Through careful consultation with relevant authorities we had permission for a maximum of 50 people on site at a time, with strict adherence to social distancing and hand hygiene rules,” Bill Bulmer said.
“Growers, together with the participating seed and agricultural chemical company representatives, indicated that the limited numbers allowed them to engage in longer, more open conversations, affording everyone the time and space to talk privately about varieties and data.”
EGVID co-director, Stuart Grigg, said they had been able to drive huge increases in virtual engagement via social media across the three days.
“The online access to the data, learnings and insights will take on another dimension in the coming months, with a big library of professional videos produced from the event set to be hosted on the AUSVEG website,” Mr Grigg said.
“It will be a valuable resource long after the crops are gone.”
Grower and EGVID co-director, Andrew Bulmer, said resilience and innovation was something Gippsland, and the industry as a whole, was known for, and the plans for the 2023 event are up for discussion.
“There have been some fantastic learnings in how we successfully adapted for this event that if we go again in three years time, we’d be definitely incorporating some of those changes into a future event structure,” Mr Bulmer said.
IMAGE: East Gippsland Vegetable Innovation Days co-directors, Andrew Bulmer and Stuart Grigg, and Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, watch as local grower and AUSVEG chairman, Bill Bulmer, cuts the cauliflower to officially open the event.