Recently, we had to describe horticulture in brief. This is tricky when representing 104 commodities, so we went back to basics. Horticulture is the branch of plant agriculture dealing with garden crops, generally fruits, vegetables, nuts, flowers, turf, and ornamental plants. The word comes from the Latin hortus meaning ‘garden,’ and colere, ‘to cultivate’. Generally, it really covers all forms of intensive commercial plant production including turf. We can’t live without water and plants and the people who grow and manage them – our unsung heroes.

Queensland’s horticulture industry is going from strength to strength, with a 2020/21 production value of $2.66 billion. This does not take into account all of the associated value in the supply chain to get produce to consumers.

Horticulture is a keystone in Australia’s economy. People will always need to eat fresh produce so there will always be the driver for a prosperous industry. With an increasing population to feed, the horticulture industry is continuously innovating and expanding, making it an exciting and satisfying career with strong upward progression.

Recently AUSVEG released a timely and fantastic interactive resource called Growing a Career in Horticulture in response to a common misperception that careers in horticulture only involve harvesting crops. It covers nearly 40 in demand careers and the pathways to reach them and showcases a whole range of careers across the horticulture supply chain. All require interested, talented, innovative, and progressive minds to continue to push the industry forward.

Careers and opportunities are amazing and range from health and safety, biosecurity, entomologists, irrigation designers, mechanical engineers, and agricultural technicians. The list is endless and many offer onsite training. Any of us who have chosen to work in agriculture and often live in rural communities fall in love with the work, the people, the characters and build lifelong skills and friendships.

As the Year of Horticulture rolls on, we continue to celebrate the industry and career opportunities, ensure our growers are treated like heroes, revered for being the people who proudly grow the food humans rely on and educate our consumers to understand the work and costs that go into one piece of fruit, nut or vegetable. 

This is also a time when the supply chain is finally acknowledged and appreciated for their involvement in food and time when government further comprehends the essential and complex economy of growing food. 

All Australians need to eat fresh produce so it will always be a vital, thriving industry.