The Consortium

Our governance group is transitioning from the original Consortium implementing a grant agreement with the NSW Environmental Trust, to a broader group of stakeholders from greenlife and horticulture associations, environment groups and regulatory bodies forming a new not-for-profit company limited by guarantee.

Aimee Freimanis
Grant Funded ― October 2017 to December 2022

Aimee was the Program Manager for the Gardening Responsibly Initiative and Gardening Responsibly Scheme. Her role involved facilitating and coordinating both the initiative and the program in consultation with industry, government and community stakeholders.

Aimee has a multi-disciplinary background with a strong grounding in science and management, community engagement and building corporate partnership programs. Her expertise is in brokering sustainable solutions.

Anita Campbell, Nursery & Garden Industry NSW & ACT (NGINA)

Dr Ashton Berry, Birdlife Australia

Ashton is the Urban Bird Conservation Action Plan (UBCAP) Coordinator for BirdLife Australia’s Urban Birds Program. The Action Plan’s vision is that cities are transformed into havens for birds, nature and people. Projects focus on enabling and engendering the conservation of urban birds through the protection and use of bird-friendly native plants on public and private land in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Perth.

Prior to this role, Ashton was the Global Climate Change Programme Coordinator for BirdLife International in the UK, working with UN Conventions on the use of nature-based solutions to climate change and biodiversity loss, and on mitigating the impacts of renewable energy infrastructure on migratory birds. Before joining BirdLife, Ashton was Associate Professor and Head of Research at the University of Seychelles Blue Economy Research Institute, and a guest lecturer on climate change adaptation and international climate advocacy at both the University of Cambridge and University of Gibraltar.

Ashton has practical experience in environmental education and management, spending a decade as a Regional Facilitator for Natural Resource Management for the Australian Government and as an Extension Officer for Greening Australia.

Brian Merrick, Garden Centres Australia

Brian began his retail horticultural career in New Zealand, during the early 70s. He moved to Australia in 1981 where after three years of managing a video production and distribution company he returned to retail horticulture, where he worked for the next 20 years as General Manager of Gardens R Us. After a short period of working for Flower Power as a buyer, he took up the position of Operations Manager for the Eden Gardens group of garden centres.

Brian has twice served as an international judge for the Nursery & Garden Industry of New Zealand. He has also been a director on the Garden Centres of Australia Board where he served several terms as president. He has also served as a director in the NSW nursery industry.

Brian now mentors and consultants on retail horticulture.

Even after forty years, Brian’s passion for retail horticulture has not diminished.

Chris Poulton, Australian Institute of Horticulture (AIH)

Chris Poulton is a horticulturist, garden designer and horticultural consultant.

Chris has been a past NSW President and national Vice President of AIH. He has also lectured in amenity horticulture for over 15 years. Chris was awarded AIH’s prestigious award of Fellow in 2016. Chris has also just stepped down as the Sydney Convenor for the AIH, receiving an award of recognition for his long-standing work and service to the Institute and its members. On behalf of AIH Chris has been an active member of the Gardening Responsibly Consortium over the past two years.

Darren Mason, Australian Institute of Landscape Architects

Hillary with Sally the weed detector dog
Hillary Cherry, National Parks & Wildlife Service

Hillary Cherry is a Weed Management Coordinator, working with the NSW Department of Planning and Environment and the National Parks and Wildlife Service. She coordinates state-wide weed strategy, policy and planning for biodiversity conservation. From 2005–2013, she coordinated the Weeds of National Significance (WoNS) programs for bitou bush, boneseed and asparagus weeds.

She is originally from Florida, where she obtained a Master’s Degree in Botany from the University of Florida. She worked in terrestrial weed research, applied management and weed risk assessment before moving to Australia in 2002. She is an executive member of the NSW Weeds Society and the Council of Australasian Weeds Societies.

Dr Holly Parsons, Birdlife Australia

Holly is the Urban Bird Program Manager for BirdLife Australia. Holly completed her PhD at the University of Wollongong, where she studied the impact of urbanisation on Superb Fairy-wrens. As the Urban Bird Program Manager at BirdLife Australia, she has been instrumental in developing and implementing strategies to protect and conserve urban bird species across the country.

Holly’s work has focused on raising awareness about the importance of urban bird conservation, as well as identifying and addressing the threats facing these birds in urban environments. She has been involved in developing programs to engage the community in bird conservation, including citizen science initiatives and education programs for schools, land managers and the general public.

Jo Cave, Greenlife Industry Australia

John Siemon, Royal Botanic Gardens

John Siemon is the Director of Horticulture & Living Collections at the Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust where he manages horticulture and science projects at the Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan, the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney, the Domain and the Blue Mountains Botanic Garden Mount Tomah. John is a horticultural scientist with a vast array of knowledge in plant physiology, plant breeding, tissue culture and germplasm conservation. He brings his more than 20 years of expertise and passion to manage an incredible suite of public green spaces that conserve and display more than 17,000 species of plants from across the globe, and are some of the most visited botanic gardens on the planet.  

After working for CSIRO and the University of Sydney, John joined the Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust in 2002. First managing laboratories and science infrastructure, he went on to be the Curator Manager for the largest botanic garden in Australia, the Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan, focussed entirely on native flora. It is here that John has spent considerable time and energy tackling a major woody weed incursion, African olive (Olea europaea subsp. cuspidata).
John’s most significant achievement to date has been project managing the Australian PlantBank, including securing $19.8 million dollars in fundraising, architectural design and construction of this national repository for native plant seeds.

Kate Low, TAFE

Kirsty McIntyre, Local Government NSW (LGNSW)

Kirsty McIntyre is the Greening Our City Grants Manager at Local Government NSW, working with councils in the Sydney region to increase urban canopy cover and encourage innovation in urban greening initiatives to create greener, cooler suburbs.

Kirsty has over 20 years’ experience working with local government on a wide range of natural resource management and environmental policy issues. This includes advocacy, developing resources for councils, designing grant-funded projects, and managing and delivering statewide projects to assist councils to improve sustainability and environmental practices. Kirsty is an active member of the NSW Environmental Trust’s Biodiversity Technical Review Committee.

Lynn Morris
Grant Funded

Lynn manages Gardening Responsibly’s organic social media on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. Creating, planning and posting content, she is Gardening Responsibly’s main advocate in these social spaces, tasked with increasing awareness, building the brand and growing our online community. Lynn also manages the content on our website and keeps a very close eye on our info@ inbox.

Originally from Scotland, Lynn has a bachelor’s degree in Publishing, which she obtained from Edinburgh Napier University, and in 2019 she completed two postgraduate diplomas in Social Media Studies and Digital Marketing.

Matt Carroll, Horticultural Media Association

Matt Kennedy, Local Land Services

Michelle Leishman, Distinguished Professor of Biology, Macquarie University

Michelle’s current research focuses on understanding the success of invasive plants, plant and vegetation responses to climate change, plant conservation and adaptation under climate change, and urban green space. Michelle also leads the Green Cities Which Plant Where project at Macquarie University in collaboration with Western Sydney University and NSW Office of Environment & Heritage, and is Director of MQ’s Smart Green Cities.

In addition she is a Board Member of Bush Heritage, Trustee of the Royal Botanic Gardens & Domain Trust, and Council member of the Australian Flora Foundation.

Michelle Neil, Citizen Science Association

Nigel van Reyk GAICD, Voluntary Non-Executive Director Consortium

With over 20 years’ experience managing privately owned businesses for owners and directors across a number of industry sectors, Nigel has helped many businesses create and execute business strategies that get results.

Nigel currently runs his own management consultancy business where he helps small business owners to maximise the potential of their businesses. He is also a Certified Peer Board Facilitator, Executive Coach and StratPro Facilitator for The Alternative Board® (TAB) where he helps forward‑thinking business owners increase profitability and improve their lives by leveraging local business advisory boards, one-on-one executive coaching and strategic business transformation processes.

Nigel is a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and a graduate of its Company Directors Course.

Pete Turner, NSW Department of Primary Industries

Terry Inkson, Midcoast Council

Wayne Van Balen, Australian Institute of Horticulture

Wayne joined the Consortium at the beginning of the project as a representative of the Australian Institute of Horticulture (AIH). He served as National President from 2014–2018 and currently acts as one of the two Gardening Responsibly ambassadors appointed by AIH.

Wayne is the director of a gardening and horticultural consulting business based in Sydney. He has qualifications in land economics, farm management and horticulture, and also served as the Extension Officer for the NSW nursery industry in the mid 1980s.

There are a few positions vacant on The Consortium.
If you are interested in finding out more, please send us an email.