Blooming good idea recognised in Rural Women's Award
A Victorian flower farmer has won the 2023 Rural Women's Award for co-founding a digital platform that links consumers with local blooms.
Nikki Davey jokes she's not a natural farmer. She can't fix a fence and she doesn't like going outside on a windy day.
Instead it's her ingenuity and bold vision for sustainable produce that has earned her the national Rural Women's Award.
Ms Davey, from Glenmore in Victoria, is a co-founder of Grown Not Flown, an app that connects consumers with their local flower farms.
The digital platform is designed to reduce "flower miles" from imported blooms, while also supporting rural and regional economies.
"Simple solutions can have a huge impact," Ms Davey said, while accepting the AgriFutures award at Parliament House in Canberra on Tuesday night.
Ms Davey became an "accidental flower farmer" when she and her partner took on her parents' farm in 2019 and decided to diversify their income by growing truffles and perennial wildflowers.
But connecting with customers was not easy at first, she said.
"There was no technology dedicated to assisting micro and small-scale flower farmers, producers, within Australia or globally, so we built the platform," Ms Davey told AAP.
"We went global really, really quickly."
Since its launch two years ago, Grown Not Flown has attracted 3500 users in 30 countries, with listings for more than 1000 growers.
Ms Davey said she hoped the platform would encourage consumers to celebrate the origin of their bouquets in the same way many embrace local food.
"Everyone loves a story and love to be connected to the producers and the growers and the faces behind the farms."
The runner-up prize was awarded to Michelle Leonard, the director of regional arts and music program Moorambilla Voices.
Ms Leonard, who was born in Coonamble, western NSW, runs musical workshops for children in rural and remote parts of the state, culminating in tours, recordings and large-scale choir performances.
The classically-trained musician said the award acknowledged the power of art in revealing the enormous potential of small communities.
"I thought initially I was creating an exceptional artistic vehicle and a choir and that I would be able to reach an artistic goal," Ms Leonard said.
"But it has become significantly more than that ... regional children and youth and communities are capable of excellence and we should demand that in every single turn."
Agriculture Minister Murray Watt said rural Australia owed a lot to women, including the establishment of the Country Woman's Association and the distance education program School of the Air.
"They are all testament to the grit and determination of rural women," Senator Watt said.
"When we're planning the future of rural and regional Australia, we need women at the table."
Other state finalists were recognised for their work in sustainable construction, youth re-engagement programs, grief support, Indigenous food education, and environmentally-friendly pet products.
Nominations for the 2024 awards opened on Wednesday.