After almost six and a half years with Greenlife Industry Australia (GIA) and Nursery & Garden Industry Australia (NGIA) this is my 77th and last CEO update to the nursery industry. In this update I will provide details on recent activities and some general ‘remarks’.
Greenlife Industry Australia Board meeting
The GIA Board met on Tuesday this week. The key item of business for the Board was to review and approve the second audited financial statement for GIA for the 2020/21 financial year. The Board is also in the process of progressing two important operational, administrative and governance arrangements. The first is the recruitment of a new CEO, which is progressing, and an announcement will be made soon. The second is the second rotation of Board directors, which is also progressing with nominations for the Board currently open.
GIA has been researching and proposing an all of industry approach to nursery business insurance. After almost two years of communications, surveys, a webinar and other activities, the Board has made the decision to put any further work on hold at this stage. There was some enthusiastic support from a limited number of businesses but there was never a critical mass to proceed to the next phase of conducting a thorough feasibility study.
Polypropylene Plant Packaging Recycling Program (PoPPr)
One of the significant achievements over the last 18 months has been the development of the PoPPr program in partnership with APCO. The latest industry workshop was conducted yesterday, and the program is at the stage of the recycling scheme design and progressing to a pilot program in conjunction with The Activ Group (TAG). These are being progressed in parallel with the pilot program planned to run from November to February over 18 receival sites. The actual locations are still to be determined given COVID-19 restrictions.
Attendees at the workshop were provided with an overview and demonstration of TAG’s Ecoactiv Digital Platform which is an end-to-end circular economy management system. The pilot will use the Ecoactiv Platform to provide vital data and provide a template for progressing to the national program. One of the real challenges to be addressed will be to identify “points of abandonment”, which are at what point does the consumer/recycler decide it is all too difficult and easier to put the plant packaging in general rubbish.
Importance of Best Management Practice (BMP)
I read the following quote from Peter Burnell of Spring Creek Seedlings in a recent case study. I think it is very accurate and highlights the importance of BMP in nurseries if they are audited or not.
“Our advice is that best practice needs to be ingrained in the day-to-day running of your business, and it’s important that you keep your staff involved in the auditing process and collaboratively work to continually make improvements.
“By putting an emphasis on continued growth and best management practice, we can continue to bolster the sustainability of our operation and long-term viability even in during times of tough climatic conditions. It also gives us piece of mind that we’re doing the right thing by the land and environment in which we operate.”
That led me to develop a new slogan for the industry BMP based on a previous ad for the program:
“Don’t leave your plant production risk management to a sticky note”
Greenlife Trivia Questions:
This is one of my favourite Greenlife Trivia questions:
Which song has the line: “the garden’s full of furniture, the house is full of plants”
Which was a definite precursor to Plant Life Balance!
Two sayings I have used over the last few years are:
To support the 202020 Vison and Greener Spaces Better Places – “Turning concrete jungles into urban forests”, and
During COVID with so many people at home and to complement Plant Life Balance – “Turing screen time into green time”.
It appears that someone has taken that on with the saying - “Less Netflix, More Nature!” which aims to unlock the potential of green social prescriptions to reduce health inequity and strengthen environmental sustainability.
Research supporting the health and well-being benefits of greenlife
The 202020 Vision was visionary and ahead of its time by wanting “20% more green space in urban areas by 2020”. A goal like that is never achievable and is extremely aspirational, because as the percent amount of greenlife increases, you will never reach 20%, you will only ever approach the asymptote. Never was green space more important than 2020 with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The benefits of green space are evidenced by the ‘Greener Cities, Healthier Lives’ (GC15005) project and has provided Australian evidence on the benefits of green space from birth to older age. Led by the University of Wollongong and funded by Hort Innovation as part of the Green Cities Fund, this project has supplied industry and policy makers with a range of internationally significant studies that has strengthened the case for investing in urban greening strategies in Australian cities.
Most recently, the project has reported links between greening and potential prevention of loneliness, reduced risk of dementia and diabetes, and has revealed the vital roles that green spaces have played in helping people to cope, connect and keep active during COVID-19 lockdowns. Again never as important as in 2020.
Nursery Products (aka Pot) Levy income – FY21.
The research and development (R&D) levy income received by Hort Innovation was $1,886,252 and the marketing levy income $1,337,502 for the 2020/21 financial year. The total of $3,232,754 being the highest ever. This is an indication that pot sales were very high in the last financial year and hopefully will translate into plant sales going forward.
As advised in the last GIA News, proposals from businesses to capture, analyse and deliver nursery industry statistics for the project NY21001 - Nursery Industry Statistics 2020-21 to 2024-25 have been received. There is no indication of which application has been successful but please prepare your production information and contribute to the survey if asked.
The industry statistics collected for the 2020/21 financial year will be important to assess the impact of COVID-19 on sales in the second half of 2020, or first half of the financial year, as this was a period of great uncertainty, a long period of lockdown in Victoria and sporadic lockdowns in other areas of the country. It will also be useful to compare against Australian census data collect on 10 August 2021.
Nursery section classification:
The nursery sector has been classified by Hort Innovation in “other” horticulture but whenever this is quoted, I would promote the nursery sector saying, “that without the ‘other’ horticulture you would not have the ‘other’ horticulture or any horticulture at all”.
Blue Mountains Image: Peter Vaughan
An important comment I received from Martin Kneebone; the editor of the Hort Stats handbook is that with the work on nursery statistics it has “given the (nursery) sector a different setting in horticulture” over the last few years.
GIA / NGIA
I would like to thank the directors, staff, members and industry representatives that have supported me, as I have worked with them over the last 6.5 years. While GIA is going through a number of changes at the moment, it will be important to ‘hang in there’, like the tree in the photo. Even when things change, if the foundations are good and you are resilient, then the opportunity to ‘grow’ will still be there.
Greenlife Trivia Answer:
Beautiful People by Australian Crawl off ‘The Boys Light Up’ album (released 1979).
Ahead of their time!
The Last Word
Thank you to those who have contacted me over the last couple of months and provided genuine acknowledgment of my role, contribution and achievements in the industry. I hope you; your business and the industry continue to prosper into the future.
CEO - Greenlife Industry Australia