Horticulture producers who want to learn more about their business and its advances can familiarise themselves with the Churchill Trust. The non-academic programme allows ordinary Australians to travel abroad and research a topic about which they are enthusiastic. The winners will receive an average of $28,000 each as Churchill fellows, as well as Trust support, to investigate international best practice and innovations in a sector of their choice.
The series will open online on February 1 with a session hosted by Prue Adams, a former ABC Landline reporter, for everyone interested in agricultural production. This includes growers and producers, value-added firms, consultants, and scientists. On February 21, a second session will be held, this time with a focus on horticulture and viticulture. Existing Churchill Fellows will share their experiences in each session, as well as live question and answer sessions to provide vital guidance on how to prepare an application. Mike Hayes, wine industry expert and 2017 ASVO Australian Winemaker of the Year from Queensland, and Tasmanian orchardist Sally Dakis will speak at the event on February 21.
Mr. Hayes finished his fellowship in 2013, travelling to 50 wine areas across Europe in search of climate-friendly types. He came up with the Vineyard of the Future initiative as a result of his studies. Ms. Dakis has worked as a rural journalist for 30 years and now runs a cherry and peony farm in the Coal River Valley. She travelled to Singapore, the United States, and Europe to learn more about the food processing industry’s value-adding and marketing of specialty and bulk cherry products. This year, in addition to general fellowships, particular national and state-based supported fellowships are available in a variety of subjects.
The new Saskia Beer Churchill Fellowship will look into artisanal food production and small-scale farming, while the Hort Innovation Australia Churchill Fellowship will foster novel horticulture ideas. Despite the looming epidemic, Trust chief executive officer Adam Davey said the organisation got a 10% rise in applications during its last cycle in 2020, and the Trust was hoping for a similar reaction this year. “Those who apply will not go until next year,” he added, adding that “we will work with them to manage travel restrictions.” A Churchill Fellowship does not require any special qualifications, and Fellowships are not utilised for traditional academic studies.