The sun shone high in the sky above Lindenow and the vegetables basked in their glory as locals, vegetable growers, farmers and industry specialists flocked to the East Gippsland Vegetable Innovation Days. Started three years ago as an opportunity to showcase East Gippsland as the premier salad producing region in Australia, industry specialists, who came from all over Australia, were left in no doubt as to this region’s expertise. This week’s event drew internationals, as well as growers and industry representations from every state in Australia. Six out of the top 10 salad producers in Australia have roots in East Gippsland. They include Covino Farms, Bulmer Farms, Riviera Farms, Hussey and Co, Dicky Bill and Tripod Farmers. Andrew Bulmer, from Bulmer Farms, says the event is also about showing that Gippsland is a great place to work, invest and live. “The event is heavily focussed towards growers, none of this happens without the growers, but also everyone in the supply chain has been invited along too because it’s really important to make sure we involve everyone in the industry,” Mr Bulmer told the Advertiser.
The 10 major seed companies from around the country each had a trial plot to showcase commercial and new varieties or something that might be innovative and exciting, such as the brand new vegetable – the red Chinese cabbage called the Hallasan. Member for Gippsland, Darren Chester, took time out from budget discussions to open the second East Gippsland Vegetable Innovation Days alongside industry icon, Luis Gazzola. Mr Gazzola, the former president of the Vegetable Growers Association, and a successful vegetable grower in his own right, cut a lettuce with Mr Chester to mark the official opening, rather than a ribbon. Demonstration sites were kept busy over the two days discussing and showing their vegetables to interested parties. A masterclass on the challenges of growing baby spinach was well patronised as was the industry networking dinner at the Lindenow Hall which featured celebrity speaker, Sam Kekovich, drawing a crowd of 350 people on Wednesday night, while industry events continued yesterday. Local schools have their own day today.