A national horticulture course offered by the University of Tasmania is having a considerable impact on the industry and producing award-winning graduates.
Since launching in 2017, the Masterclass in Horticultural Business has helped professionals from across the country turn their business ideas into actionable business plans and has seen many graduates go on to receive national industry recognition.
Joshua Maunder from Bellenden Ker, Queensland, completed the Masterclass in 2019 and this year received a coveted Nuffield Scholarship.
Mr Maunder said connecting with others in the industry as part of the Masterclass was a valuable experience.
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"The Masterclass was a fantastic way for me to develop new skills whilst networking and meeting growers from all over the country," Mr Maunder said.
"Whilst we all grew different crops, we faced the same issues and by working together, not only did we help each other solve problems, we developed life-long friendships".
Mr Maunder has received a 2021 Nuffield Scholarship supported by Westpac Agribusiness to investigate how the agricultural sector can adapt to rapidly changing climatic conditions through more resilient production methods.
In addition to starting his own farm, Aus-Ex Fruit earlier this year, Mr Maunder is the projects and compliance officer at family farming operation, Zappala Tropicals, which produces a variety of exotic tropical fruits across 20 hectares in northern Australia.
A fellow Masterclass classmate, Matthew Griggs, from Lucaston Park Orchards, in Tasmania, was named the 2020 APAL Young Grower of the Year.
Mr Griggs received a generous scholarship from Apple and Pear Australia Limited to study the Masterclass in Horticultural Business in 2019.
"The scholarship was really, really good, I'm so glad I got the chance to do it," Mr Griggs said.
"Being in agriculture, it's always changing and the more you can stay on the front foot of that and stay ahead of the game the more competitive you are going to be in the long-term."
Other award-winning graduates of the Masterclass include Daniel Hammond, of Victoria, named as the 2018 Victorian Young Grower of the Year; Hugh Reardon, of Queensland, awarded the 2018 NAB Vegetable Exporter of the Year and Lisa Brassington, of Victoria, receiving the 2017 Women in Horticulture Award.
Course coordinator Mark Boersma from the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture said he was delighted by the impact the course was having for industry and the participants.
"The Masterclass in Horticultural Business is in just its fourth year and we couldn't be prouder of the success of our graduates," Dr Boersma said.
It is rewarding to know we have made a contribution to the development of business leaders within the horticultural industry."
The course is designed to deliver practical learning, skills and insights that participants can immediately use to improve their business. This includes development of a personal business plan that is reviewed by a panel of experts from both the education and professional sector.
The success of the course has also led to the development of a new Masterclass in Dairy Business Farm Management, in partnership with Dairy Australia.
Online delivery, mid-year intake and flexible study options ensures the Horticultural Masterclass is accessible to as many people as possible from around Australia.
Industry-supported scholarships worth up to $10,000 each are available for people working across the horticulture sector, including cherry, berry, macadamia, vegetable, potato, onion, nursery and summer fruit.
The Horticultural Masterclass was developed with expertise from the University of Tasmania, Wageningen Academy in The Netherlands and New Zealand's Lincoln University. It is supported with funding from Horticulture Innovation.
For more information visit: utas.edu.au/horticulture or contact the masterclass team at firstname.lastname@example.org