The nursery and garden Industry in Australia has existed since the pioneering era. It was in the early 1900’s shortly after Australia’s Federation, the country’s Nurserymen began the formal establishment of the various groups that existed around the country.
During the 1800’s nurserymen in Victoria were members of the ‘professional section’ of the Victorian Horticultural Society. However, in 1901 a small group of nurserymen broke away to form The Nurserymen and Seedsmen’s Association of Victoria. This Association was officially founded in 1903.1 It is thought that the need for a separate group was identified as an opportunity to enjoy social interaction on a business-like level to discuss issues affecting their operations of the day including supply of stock, employment, wages and other industrial matters.2
The South Australian Association of Nurserymen and Seedsmen gathered to strengthen their voices in relevant matters as well as providing them with the easier access for exchanging ideas.3 They were established in the early 20th century with the association motto of “Quality of goods, Fair dealing, Protection of customer”.
Records of the Queensland Nurserymen’s Association have been found for April 1902 with their Annual Meeting being reported in the Telegraph (Brisbane)4 where they discussed seed supply, plant quality, stock losses and the election of officials.
The first annual Sydney Seedsmen and Nurserymen’s Picnic was held on 29 September 1900 at Clifton Gardens.5 Later they were known as the NSW Seedsmen and Nurserymen and in the 1940’s become the NSW Association of Nurserymen, thereby providing a professional body for growers and sellers of quality plants.6
Soon following Federation, the industry found the necessity to come together on a national basis to discuss common problems and to collaborate on common goals.7 They became increasingly conscious of the importance of consulting with the government for their perceived prosperity and knowledge of legislation. The National Nurserymen and Seedsmen’s Association regularly held conferences and passed resolutions relating to issues affecting their commercial interests, restriction of plant movement and the diverging interests of States.8
The earliest record of a Federal conference of representative nurserymen of Australia is from Melbourne in September 1905. At this conference, they determined to protest new legislation banning importation from South Africa, the Vegetable Diseases Act, shipping of product interstate and pest and disease fumigation.9
Whilst the Australian nursery industry was growing, state representatives met infrequently during the war and interwar periods. In 1945, steps were taken to form the Federation of Australian Nurserymen’s Association, which was constituted of equal representation from all States. The federation was not made an incorporated body at that time.
The founding representatives of this organisation, having undergone the war and interwar periods believed that a unity of purpose and ideals within the industry was essential, both for the welfare of its members and for the industry overall.
Following a study as to the advantages of incorporation, the Australian Nurserymen’s Association, was formed in 1975, with representation made up of individual State members, including wholesale and retail nurserymen, and allied traders. The name was then changed in 1988 to the Nursery Industry Association of Australia Limited (NIAA) to reflect a more-unified organisation.
In 1997, a memorandum of understanding (MOU) was signed between the State associations, and NIAA. This MOU was intended to enable closer cooperation between all eight Nursery & Garden Industry bodies and State members were given a compulsory membership of the national body. The MOU was revised and updated in March 2001, resulting in the adoption of a common logo and association name, with the national body known as Nursery & Garden Industry Australia (NGIA).
A review of the history of the industry has highlighted that evolution and change has been a constant throughout. This ability to recognize constraints and opportunities, and continually adapt accordingly are hallmarks of the Industry.
Following three reviews in 2016, 2017 and 2018 to consider the best structure for the industry, in late December 2018, a Transition Team of Members was appointed to advance the reinvention of a hybrid national body where both businesses and Associations could be members.
It was felt that a hybrid structure would acknowledge the different needs of businesses nationally and provide choice in how they wanted to be represented. The Transition Team worked to produce an Information Memorandum that articulated the details for proposed model and provided a basis for members to decide. In June 2019, at an extraordinary general meeting for NGIA, Members of Nursery & Garden Industry Australia (NGIA) given their resounding support to establish Greenlife Industry Australia, voting overwhelmingly in favour of the change.
The new company was established in July 2019 at which point all Life Memberships and industry acknowledgments were transferred to Greenlife Industry Australia.
1 Weatherley, N, Gorden D. (1999), Generations of Growth, A History of the Nursery Industry Association of Victoria, Nursery & Garden Industry Victoria, East Malvern, p5
2 Weatherley, N, Gorden D. (1999), Generations of Growth, A History of the Nursery Industry Association of Victoria, Nursery & Garden Industry Victoria, East Malvern, p59
3 Swinbourne, R. (1982), Years of Endeavour, An historical recurve of the Nurseries, Nurserymen, Seedsmen and Horticultural retail outlets of South Australia, South Australian Association of Nurserymen, Adelaide, p169
4 Telegraph (Brisbane), Saturday 5 April 1902, p4, sourced online at http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article1739694 29 on 5 September 2016
5 Australian Town and Country Journal (Sydney), Saturday 6 October 1900 p16, sourced onlinehttps://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/71385242/5335259 on 26 November 2020.
6 History of the Nursery & Garden Industry NSW & ACT, sourced online at www.ngia.com.au on 5 September 2016
7 Swinbourne, R. (1982), Years of Endeavour, An historical recurve of the Nurseries, Nurserymen, Seedsmen and Horticultural retail outlets of South Australia, South Australian Association of Nurserymen, Adelaide, p169
8 Poiner, G, Sybil, J. (2016), Gardens of History and Imagination, Growing New South Wales, Sydney University Press, Sydney, p76
9 Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW), Wednesday 13 September 1905 p653, sourced online at http://nla.gov.nla.news-article164999114 on 5 September 2016