Conference Wrap Up

The Carrington Hotel – Katoomba Blue Mountains NSW – 17, 18 and 19 May 2023

The beautiful Blue Mountains were the back drop for the 28th TALGA Conference & AGM at The Carrington, Katoomba!  What a fabulous venue and a magnificent area.

Growing Momentum – Building your best Lavender Business was the foundation for the conference and our sessions followed the Five Key elements of Business Success to a T!  VISION, SINGULARITY, VALUE, VISIBILITY & PERSONALITY!

The conference began on Wednesday afternoon with a pre-conference session for new growers with Clive Larkman on different lavender varieties and growing.  This session was well attended by some new growers but I did also lay eyes on a few experienced growers attending this session! Just goes to show you are always learning…..

The AGM was well attended by members after this session with two board members – Gary Young & Christine Hitchin retiring from the board.  Two new board members Michael Hill and Karen McRae were voted in with enthusiasm.

Conference Attendees were invited to attend Welcome drinks and canapes in the bar and lounge area of the Carrington.  This was a warm, friendly, fun couple of hours that gave us all time to network and catch up with lavender friends from near and far.  Lots of laughter, chatter and excitement was heard!

On Thursday morning delegates gathered their lanyards, show bags (filled with lots of goodies donated by our awesome sponsors) and programs ready to soak up as much information as possible.  We were heartily welcomed to the Blue Mountains by Councillor Suzie van Opdorp and encouraged to explore the area.

Our keynote speaker DeeAnn Seccombe Prather – Managing director of DownUnder Enterprises was our VISION speaker – Holding the line, Flexing and being a Roly poly toy.  DeeAnn was a most inspirational and engaging speaker and it was very interesting to hear her story in relation to vision.

We all enjoyed morning tea and a stretch before settling down to listen to Clare Dean from Tasmania Lavender Company and Port Arthur Lavender speak about SINGULARITY – Unique Selling Proposition an essential ingredient in the recipe for success!  Clare inspired us to do our own USP for self discovery and find out what our lavender business does well, what our customers want and what do our competitors do well – so interesting.

This lead straight into our next speaker Phillip Prather chair of ATTIA Board of Directors who focused on VALUE – Quality Assurance for Essential Oils Starts with the Grower.  Phillip had the whole room engaged and inspired and thinking more about Quality Assurance and a QC system which could ensure the industry achieves consistency.

Attendees enjoyed lunch and more networking (we can never get enough networking) and time to chat to suppliers and speakers.

Our next speaker was Nikki Barker from Monrose Marketing + Design who focused on VISIBILITY – Digital Marketing for Growers.  Nikki guided us through the swamp of digital marketing and some of the most desirable tools for us to use, identifying our markets and customers and how to be savvy with Social Media!  Essential tools in this modern business world.

Our Agritourism Panel – Stuart Abernethy (Lavender Abbey NZ) & Helen Griffin (Amandine Lavender QLD) & Louise Bickerton (Blue Mountains Lavender NSW).  Each told their Agritourism Journey – the positives, the negatives, the rules and more rules mostly government hurdles, the rewards!  The conversation was lively, fun but serious, informative and user friendly!

The serious part of the day done – time to wrap up and smarten ourselves up for the gala dinner!  In the Grand Dining Room we were treated to the musical entertainment on the grand piano from Tien Attwater Year 12 student at the Blue Mountains Grammar School while we enjoyed our beautifully presented meal, the banter from Clive Larkman our MC, Craft, Oil & Dawn Baudinette Award presentations. Our Guest Speakers for the night were Shane & Tessa McLaughlin from Hillbilly Cider NSW who bought new meaning to the PERSONALITY part of our elements of business success.  Great entertaining speakers who definitely bring personality to their own business.

On Friday morning we caught the bus (on time!) to Blue Mountains Lavender Farm at Little Hartley.  We could not have asked for a better day – a perfectly clear, crisp morning, no wind and a comfortable day in the sunshine!  We were treated to lovely coffee/hot chocolate/tea from the Coffee Cart sponsored by Fiona!  We enjoyed a welcome and tour of the farm by Louise & Bruce.  It was wonderful to walk around their farm and distillation shed!  A beautifully presented farm and environs – lots of discussion, questions and networking about growing, diversity & sharing.

Some members enjoyed a bus trip to visit some local gardens and a tour of Historic Hartley Village while those that remained at the farm were treated to some more speakers.  Fiona Glover from Creative Dried Flowers presented a fundamental educational session for all lavender growers and distillers on Best Practice for Storing Essential Oil and Drying Lavender.

Train your Nose to Assess and Evaluate Lavender EO was presented by Fiona Glover and Matthew Oxenford.  This instructive sniffing session was used to educate members on appreciating the fragrance qualities of their own oil and others.  This session was heady with the fragrance of good and bad oils, lots of questions were raised and answered and plenty of food for thought which may lead into another follow up session?

Kaye Kelly retired owner from Tower Hill Lavender presented an informative talk on Compliance Protocols around Product Development and Labelling.  Kaye’s in depth talk triggered many questions and the need for members to do their own research within their state Governments regulations.

The conference ended on such a high note and some very positive & enthusiastic feedback was much appreciated.  Many thanks to Louise Bickerton for her hard work & dedication and persistence to allow us to participate in such an informative & enjoyable conference.

Well done!

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