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Women powerhousing the organic industry

Women powerhousing the organic industry have blitzed the field to take home national Awards for their exceptional leadership and innovation in the organic industry.

The Australian Organic Limited’s (AOL) 7th Annual Industry Awards recognise excellence in the nation’s rapidly growing $2 billion plus organic industry.

A trio of inspirational women won coveted individual Awards, including the Young Organic Leader Award, as well as the inaugural Trailblazer of the Year and the Woman in Organic of the Year categories.

AOL Chief Executive Officer, Niki Ford, congratulated the women and said each stood out as individuals with bright leadership futures in Australia’s organic sector.

“Each of these women are showing strong leadership within their own businesses and within the organic sector more broadly,” Ms Ford said.

“They are actively contributing to driving this industry forward and supporting its success, not only through certified organic products, but through ongoing sustainable practices.”

Woman in Organic of the Year Award winner, Melissa Brown of Gemtree Wines

Woman in Organic of the Year Award

Winning the brand-new Woman in Organic of the Year Award, Gemtree Wines’ Melissa Brown is the driving force behind the vineyard’s organic journey and success.

Chief viticulturalist and co-owner of the McLaren Vale vineyard, Melissa said it took grit and determination when the operation transitioned to organic production, but she knew it was possible.

“I started trialling organic methods on select blocks of Tempranillo grapes in 2005, and by 2007, the whole vineyard had been converted from conventional farming to organic,” Ms Brown said.

“Seeking opportunities to improve sustainability is a key passion of mine, and we now recycle everything we can, from every aspect of our business.”

Under Ms Brown’s leadership, Gemtree Wines also restored barren land by planting 50,000 native trees and shrubs, at the same time giving visitors access to authentic tourism experiences through Eco Trail and Indigenous Cultural Tours.

Trailblazer of the Year Award winner, Katrina Kehoe of Kehoe’s Kitchen

Trailblazer of the Year Award

Brisbane’s Katrina Kehoe won the first-ever Trailblazer of the Year Award for bringing to life her vision of creating delicious, nutritious probiotic food through her business, Kehoe’s Kitchen.

“We are Australia’s first certified organic producer of probiotic cashew dips, sauerkraut, kimchi and fermented vegetables,” Mrs Kehoe said.

“We started as a Facebook page recipe blog and selling our products at a local organic market, and now have more than 25 products in our range.

“Today, we supply independent wholesalers, retailers and major supermarkets across Australia, and also export our products overseas.”

Young Organic Leader of the Year Award winner, Rachel Davis of Eco-Farms

Young Organic Leader of the Year Award

Packing organic fruit and vegetables at the Brisbane Markets on weekends and school holidays as a teenager provided the start of an exciting career for Young Organic Leader of the Year Award winner, Rachel Davis.

Now working as Sales and Development Manager for Eco-Farms, a market-leading company selling a diverse range of certified organic foods domestically and overseas, Ms Davis said she is a very vocal advocate for the organic horticulture industry.

“Over the years I have served on various committees and working groups, and currently sit on the Australian Organic Limited’s Horticulture Advisory Committee and on the Queensland Division for Ag Institute Australia,” Ms Davis said.

“I get a lot of energy from belonging to an important industry that has less impact on the environment and that promotes ethical and sustainable farming methods.”

AOL’s Ms Ford said women also featured heavily across the industry categories of the Awards, showing exceptional leadership and commitment to the organic industry.

“Organic Merchants founder, Chalimah Jeanne won Manufacturer of the Year, Honest to Goodness co-founder and owner, Karen Ward, is part of a duo that took out Retailer of the Year, and winning the Exporter of the Year Award was Angove Family Winemakers, where Victoria Angove shares Managing Director responsibilities with her brother,” she said.

“Our Hall of Fame inductee this year was the inspirational Dooley Bellamy-Crighton, who co-founded Australia’s leading organic baby food and formula brand, Bellamy’s Organic, and is a true pioneer and innovator in the sector.”

The Australian Organic 7th Annual Industry Awards were celebrated in a virtual ceremony on Friday, 12 November.

Learn more here.