Innovative approaches to farming helped Catherine Velisha win the award.

An “inspirational and innovative leader” is how the Boomaroo Nurseries Women in Horticulture Award winner, Catherine Velisha, has been described.

The third-generation farmer was awarded the recognition at the Hort Connections 2021 National Awards for Excellence in Brisbane on June 9.

Ms Velisha is the managing director of leading producer Velisha Farms. The award recognises a leading female member of the Australian horticulture industry who has demonstrated outstanding ability and success in her chosen field.

AUSVEG chief executive officer James Whiteside said Ms Velisha has taken the spirit and history of the family business and modernised by viewing problems from a different perspective.

“Catherine Velisha is an inspirational and innovative leader in the fresh produce industry,” he said.

“Catherine encourages a culture of innovation by fostering creative thinking from her team at Velisha Farms.

“Updating the business brand to connect customers and using social media to tell the story of Velisha Farms and what she is like behind the scenes have been paramount to the current growth.”

In 2019, Ms Velisha was awarded a Nuffield Scholarship to undertake research into how horticultural family businesses can build and harness the skills they need to be competitive in the marketplace.

She has also been a big advocate for farm safety.

“As well as modernising the workplace tools, Catherine recognises that her employees are the business’s biggest assets and invests in their professional development and wellbeing,” Mr Whiteside said.

“Catherine’s passion for the industry is evident in her broader work, including regular donations to food relief charities and establishing a horticulture specific education business, V.E.G. Education, and partnering with others to promote and increase awareness on farm safety and building a career in the industry.”

“Catherine was one of 11 strong contenders for the Boomaroo Nurseries Women in Horticulture Award this year.

“There are so many passionate, dedicated women who are responsible for a range of roles throughout the industry, and this award recognises the key role that women play in ensuring Australian horticulture continues to be a strong contributor to the country’s agricultural sector.”

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