Who’s on your nursery SIAP? Five minutes with Carole Fudge

The Strategic Investment Advisory Panel (SIAP) is a panel of industry representatives that provides advice to Hort Innovation in relation to industry R&D and marketing investments, funded by nursery industry levies and contributions from the Australian Government.

Tell us a bit about yourself and your career in the nursery industry.

My nursery career started in 1977 as a book keeper with a retail nursery in Perth, followed by several sales and customer service roles in the retail and production sector.

During this time, I gained plenty of new skills and built on my knowledge about plants, which led me to my current role as the Sales and Marketing Manager for Benara Nurseries. I’ve been here since 1996 and am still here today!

I’ve always had an appreciation for horticulture. I grew up learning a lot about plants and I believe this affiliation with nature, together with my professional experience, led me to where I am today.

What do you see as the opportunities for the nursery industry?

There’s a big opportunity for industry to influence how cities are developed and built in the future. Biophilia (to seek connection with nature) is so important and I believe that now, more than ever, urban communities need to reconnect with green space. It helps our health and wellbeing – and is great for our kids and their learning.

The nursery industry can be a strong advocate to help build that connection between communities and nature. I have a vision that our cities – although increasingly dense – can become more like green sanctuaries rather than concrete jungles!

Why did you decide to join the nursery Strategic Investment Advisory Panel (SIAP)?

The nursery levy collects a considerable amount of money every year and it’s in everyone’s interest that the funds are invested responsibly and wisely. Marketing has always interested me, and ensuring that the marketing levy invests in relevant and beneficial campaigns has been a key priority for me on the SIAP.

You can’t bring about change from the outside. You have to get involved and have your say on what matters to you and your business. This industry has a very positive story to tell and I wanted to be part of shaping that bright future.

What is the most common piece of feedback you receive from growers?

Growers want to know what’s happening in their industry and with their levy. We’re busy people and may not always have time to read the latest report, but I encourage people to find what works for them – is it social media, an e-newsletter or a nursery paper?

There are multiple ways to learn about what’s happening in your levy. I find face to face meetings valuable, as well as speaking with other growers about the latest developments in the industry.

Why is it important for growers to have their say on future levy investments?

The SIAP is there to provide independent advice on levy investments and to represent growers’ interests, but we always love hearing from industry about what does or doesn’t work, or about new projects they are interested in.

It’s our levy, so it’s important to share an idea for a future project or get involved in a program underway. Whether it’s biosecurity, career development or marketing, there’s a lot happening for the betterment of our industry.

Have a question? Feel free to contact me on carole@benara.com.au. Otherwise, visit horticulture.com.au/nursery for the latest information about your levy.

And lastly, what is a fun fact that most people wouldn’t know about you?

I get up at 4:30am every morning and go for a walk. I absolutely love hiking and bushwalking. A recent highlight was the Coast to Coast trek in the UK. We covered 300km in 15 days!