Catherine Velisha

Third-generation farmer and managing director of Velisha Farms, Catherine Velisha, has been crowned the Boomaroo Nurseries Women in Horticulture winner.

Announced at the Hort Connections 2021 National Awards for Excellence event in early June, the award recognises a leading female member of the Australian horticulture industry who has demonstrated outstanding ability and success in her chosen field.

Outgoing Ausveg chief executive James Whiteside said Velisha had 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,' said Whiteside. 'She 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.'

Velisha was awarded a Nuffield Scholarship in 2019, in which she researched how horticultural family businesses can build and harness the skills they need to be competitive in the marketplace.

'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, VEG Education, and partnering with others to promote and increase awareness on farm safety and building a career in the industry,” added Whiteside.

Velisha was one of 11 candidates for the Boomaroo Nurseries Women in Horticulture Award this year, which also included Sandra Ceravolo (SA), Sue Jenkins (QLD) and Jo Van Niekerk (VIC) among others.