We are ripping into 2015 and it's already the last month of Summer and Chinese New Year is around the corner; Year of the Sheep. Not sure what it means but I hope it is good for the horticulture industry. For us Summer Autumn is a great period but very busy. It seems that we have a conference/festival every second or third week. We have just returned from the Lavender and Chilli Festival in Crookwell (just west of Goulburn). This has been running for about 8 years and had the best turnout so far. About 300 people came from surrounding towns and Canberra to learn about these two popular herbs.
Australia Day this weekend. Always a fun period where we can celebrate what it means to be Australian. If you are not proud of this country then I am not sure what you are looking for in life. I have spent time in many other parts of the world and we have the best, widest and most tolerant mix of cultures. Yes we have the odd bit of stupid racist behaviour but this is really just dumb thugs being violent. In our own business we have staff who are several generations Australian, first generation Aussies and new immigrants from various parts of the world.
As a nation we perform above our weight in sport and global innovation. It is an eye opener to read about all the inventions and processes that originated here. We have made a positive difference in so many ways. Then there are our sports people who are up there in so many disciplines. The goal by Cahill in the China Australia Asian Cup quarter final was stunning. Soccer was my sport of choice when I was at school and I know how fit you have to be to play at any level, let alone on the world stage. So to kick a goal like that halfway through the second half when you are in your mid thirties is pretty inspirational.
The biggest event for us is our Herb and Chilli Festival which is on 14 & 15 March this year. 2015 is our 4th year and we are expecting 5500 people to attend. We start preparing in September and by February we are fully involved in getting it to start up. Radio ads start in January, sites are all booked and allocated, signage and flyers are all being put out in late January and bookings start rolling in around the beginning of February. It is two fantastic days of wine, food and entertainment that just stimulate the senses. My tastebuds are already watering in anticipation of all that great food.
Soon after the Herb and Chilli Festival is the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show, one of the world's best horticultural shows. Not only is the show itself a stand out but it gets our industry invaluable exposure to the general public. This is followed by a series of specialist and rare plant shows around Eastern Australia. All ways to show how much plants and gardens have become such an integral part of our lives.
In May there is what I consider to be the best trade based conference in Australia and even the rest of the world. Admittedly I am a little biased and haven't missed one since 1990 but the IPPS Australia annual conference is three days of special time with some of Australia's most passionate professional plants people. There aren't many questions on propagating and growing plants that cannot be answered by the attendees. If you haven't been to an IPPS conference, consider coming this year. It is in Newcastle and the local committee have been working on the program for the last two years.
So, summer/autumn in Australia, in the horticulture industry is a pretty good place to be. Unless we have any major disasters between now and June the industry should be fairly strong. Encourage your family, friends and fellow employees/staff to get involved in some or all of the above events. It is the best way to enjoy life.