Media Release: National Awards of Excellence presented at Hort Connections

The awards to horticulturists, researchers and businesses across Australia were presented at industry forum, Hort Connections, in Brisbane. The prestigious Syngenta Grower of the Year award was presented to avocado growers Annaleise and Lachlan Donovan.The Donovan Family supply more than half of the avocados grown in Central Queensland, and have a strong vision for the industry, including making a significant contribution to export markets for avocados over the past 25 years.

Among others honoured was orchardist Rien Silvestein from Victoria, who was presented with the Boomaroo Nurseries Women in Horticulture Award. The Boomaroo Nurseries Women in Horticulture Award recognises a leading female member of the Australian horticulture industry who has demonstrated outstanding ability and success in her chosen field. Boomaroo Nurseries is a world-class vegetable seedling producer, supplying over 300 million seedlings to growers around Australia.

Also acknowledged were Michael Simonetta of Perfection Fresh Australia and Peter Leach, Principal Entomologist and Market Access Focus Team Leader at the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries. Michael was awarded the Hort Innovation Exporter of the Year. Peter was recognised for his outstanding career with the Bayer Researcher of the Year Award. Peter’s work has included national market access disinfestation projects focused on fruit fly. The Goulburn Murray Valley Fruit Fly Area Wide Management program, which has reduced the impact of fruit fly on Australia’s horticultural industry, has won the Visy Impact Award.

The Young Grower of the Year award was presented to Damian Manno from South Australia. Damian has a strong commitment to quality and has developed his own innovative ‘herbaliscious’ basil brand, which provides basil to consumers with root stock intact for a higher quality product and better shelf life. He was also the winner of the 2022 AUSVEG SA Young Grower of the Year earlier in the year.

Another South Australian vegetable grower was also honoured. Marlon Motlop has been recognised for his environmental and sustainability credentials by receiving the Butler Market Gardens Environmental Award. Marlon is an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, who has taken a native Australian product that has been grown for thousands of years by the country’s First People, and has turned it into a commercial enterprise and made it accessible for the wider Australian community. He has helped local youth gain access to career pathways in horticulture and has also propagated local indigenous plants – some endangered – in greenhouse situations.

For the Media Release, including the full list of awardees and images, click here.

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