Oh Spring. Why do you always manage to trick us mere mortals with your brisk, yet sunshiny days?

Looking through the front window at home, sipping on the days first hot bean water and watching the pink and grey Galahs waddle around, I think to myself “No need to bundle up; today looks like a winner!” And then I go outside, where it’s freezing… however as the sun continues to shine, the day gets a little brighter.

The Quality Assurance, R&D Extension and HortConnectWA trip down to Albany and Manjimup in early June, was just the ticket to blow away the winter blues.

Biosecurity R&D Workshop, CarnarvonSitting on a grower’s porch with the dappled morning sun on my back, in the middle of a farm while participating in a FreshCare training session cemented two very important thoughts in my head. The first was as we were discussing the extrinsic value of a solid food defence/fraud strategy; four minds with diverse horticulture experiences, approaching the same matter from very different angles and coming to the same conclusion. 

I was under no illusion that an outside HortConnectWA BBQ event in Pemberton in June was a bit of an ask and I am happy to say the heavens didn’t disappoint.

Hort Connections MelbourneWe arrived to drenching rain, a frosty wind and reports of trees coming down. I can’t describe my relief as we arrived at Pemberley of Pemberton to see our lovely hosts, Dave and Monica had somehow wrangled a couple of tarps to construct a cave like windbreak. As the sun went down and the rain found another gear, growers started to filter in.

With a crew of around 40 folks from the Manjimup/Pemberton horticulture scene in attendance, I couldn’t have been a happier ambassador.

There was a lot of talking, even more laughing and a few brand-new introductions, which is at the heart of this HortConnectWA ambassador’s personal ethos. Working on the farm can be all consuming.
It is my hope that the future events and workshops planned by HortConnectWA will give you the opportunity to step away from the farm, take a breath, relax and gain some knowledge or a renewed awareness of just how awesome Horticulture can be.

The rest of June flew by in a flurry of activity. All hands were on deck for the Hort Innovation funded UNE: Weeds in Veg field day at Ivankovich Farms in Myalup

With an information session for over 40 growers held in a shed, followed by a field walk through the weed suppressing cover crop and a yummy lunch (thanks Crooked Carrot); everyone in attendance from Gingin to Albany, left with an increased knowledge and a few ideas for ‘trials’ of their own. Then there was the whirlwind of learning, talking, and networking that was Hort Connections in Melbourne.

I feel like I blinked and July was over. The start of the next phase of Hort Innovation’s VegNET project for myself and Truyen kicked off on July 1st, with us setting up the project to continue
until the end of March 2020.

We held a biosecurity R&D workshop in Wanneroo for English and Vietnamese growers which was a huge success. Our aim was to highlight issues such as aphids and other bug pests, which start to become an issue as the weather warms up. Quality Assurance Coordinator, Joel Dinsdale was able to close the link between habitual pest /disease surveillance and management, a disciplined biosecurity strategy and their role in QA accreditation. WA Citrus and HortConnectWA also collaborated on the first HCWA event in Gingin. It was great to catch up with some familiar faces, but even better to meet a few new ones. I’m happy to report our newest team member and HCWA organiser extraordinaire, Sandie McLeod was indeed a quality addition.

As we slid towards August, my thoughts turned to red dirt and goats. The call from beyond the 26th parallel had begun…it was that time of year again… fun times in Carnarvon!

An R&D info session on pest, disease and biosecurity including melon disease information was followed by Bryn Edwards presenting the annual Industry Benchmark Report, which was a great start to the weeklong trip. The next few days were locked in for grower and stakeholder visits. As usual, the Gascoyne put on a good show in hosting the Long Table Lunch. Credit goes out to the chefs for creating some delicious dishes. However, they wouldn’t have been able to do it without the beautiful produce that came from the red dirt up there.

And here we are, at the end of winter. The sun teasing us with the promise of blue skies, bright days and shorter germination times. Like an onion I am peeling off the layers. Saying so long to the winter me I have become and embracing the sunshiny warmth. With pure delight I can say I’ve commenced my yearly count down, as the temperature slowly rises to that inevitable, long anticipated apex… when I can start moaning about how hot it is!

Embrace this in-between time called spring… as sunburn and sweat await us all!

Contact Sam on 0427 373 037 or email