2016 Conference speakers

Here are details about our speakers, in order of appearance on our programme.

Anne Mitchell

(Manjimup Underground)


Anne Mitchell has a background in research science, microbiology, winemaking and viticulture and has been involved in the truffle industry for 10 years as a truffle producer, development officer for the Department of Agriculture and Food, and more recently as a consultant scientist to the national pest and disease research project.

Hon. Terry Redman MLA

(Member of Warren-Blackwood)

 Redman,+Terry+(web+small)Terry Redman first entered State Parliament in February 2005 after successfully contesting the seat of Stirling. After a series of boundary re-alignments he now represents the electorate of Warren-Blackwood, which includes the towns of Augusta, Balingup, Boyup Brook, Bridgetown, Denmark, Donnybrook, Greenbushes, Manjimup, Margaret River, Nannup, Northcliffe and Pemberton. In 2013, Terry was appointed Leader of the Western Australia National Party.

Since entering Parliament, Terry has built a solid reputation as a staunch defender of regional interests. Following the election of the Liberal-National government in 2008 Terry was appointed as the Minister for Agriculture and Food; Forestry and Minister Assisting the Minister for Education. Since then he has also held the portfolios of Corrective Services, Housing, Training and Workforce Development and Water.  Terry currently holds the Regional Development; Lands and Minister Assisting the Minister for State Development portfolios.


With family links dating back almost 100 years, Terry has strong connections to the South West and Great Southern regions. His grandparents were among the first settlers to take up land in the Denmark and Cranbrook areas and his parents live and work in the Manjimup Shire. Terry and wife, Marie, continue the tradition of living and working in the Great Southern region, where they have owned and operated a small business and also been partners in a family farming operation.

When he isn’t spending cherished time with family, Mr Redman is a fitness enthusiast who enjoys running, golf and tennis. 

Gavin Booth

(Australian Truffle Traders)

Gavin BoothGavin Booth has been in the WA industry since 2006. His wife Mel and son, Brin own a 5 hectare truffle plantation planted in 2009 and it yielded 11kg a hectare in 2015. They have a dog contract harvest business that is Mel’s focus and more recently they teamed up with the Pottinger family to form a truffle sales and marketing operation called Australian Truffle Traders. Gavin sits on the committee of the Australian Truffle Growers Association and is also the Vice Chair of Truffle Producers WA Inc.

Jayson Mesman

(The Truffle Farm)

Jayson MesmanJayson Mesman is the owner of The Truffle Farm in Canberra. Born and raised in Canberra, it was actually in Western Australia at The Truffle & Wine Co. that Jayson started his truffle career. In 2007, Jayson was working as a successful Customs Detector Dog handler based in Perth. It was during that year Jayson was asked to bring his newly acquired black Labrador puppy Samson down to Manjimup to see if the pair could make it as a truffle hunting team. After a very successful first season Jayson decided to expand his pack of truffle hunting dogs and became more involved in the truffle industry as a whole.


In 2009 Jayson’s employment took him back to Canberra and to the only truffle farm actually in the ACT, situated in the picturesque Majura Valley. Jayson soon took over as manager of the farm and changed its direction from a small hobby farm to the commercial level producer and tourism destination it is today. Jayson purchased the farm in early 2016 and continues to focus on promoting the Australian Truffle Industry to the hundreds of visitors to the farm each year.

Melinda Booth

(Truffle Dogs WA)

Mel and VivaMel Booth has been in the WA industry since 2006. With her husband Gavin and son, Brin own a 5 hectare truffle plantation planted in 2009. They have a dog contract harvest business that harvests about 2.5tonne of truffle per annum, which is Mel’s focus. It is based on her experience and training as a Customs narcotics detection dog handler. Mel is an avid hockey player and captains one of the local teams.

Rob Muraru

(Oak Valley Truffles)

RobMuraruRob started his dog handling career as an Explosive Detection Dog Handler in the Australian Army in 2011. He and was involved on operations both in Australia with the AFP and Queensland Police as well as 2 tours to Afghanistan.

He discharged from the Army in 2015 after 10 years service and moved back to WA. Shortly after he was contracted by Oak Valley Truffles as a Truffle Dog Handler for the 2015 season and this led to a permanent opportunity in 2016.

Rob lives in Manjimup with his wife Corinne, daughter Layne and dogs Zoe, Tommy and Lucky.

 Vittorio Giordano

(Urbani Tartufi, USA)

Vittorio GiordanoVittorio Giordano’s relationship with truffles began 18 years ago, while he was living in Italy running a company selling food to local restaurants. After being approached by Urbani to sell truffles, Giordano now oversees 70 percent of the truffle sales in the United States as Vice President of Urbani Truffles USA. From operating New York City’s delivery service out of the back of his own beat-up van, to running a glass-windowed office displaying truffle pararphernalia on West 10th Street, truffles are more popular and mainstream than ever.


To Giordano, truffle is not only food on the table, it is like travelling. As a natural product that cannot be cultivated, it takes 18,000 people to transport the product across the globe from ground to table, all within 24 hours. He strives to deliver Urbani’s commitment to offer fresh products by working with the best modern truffle hunters available, those who are licensed, and care about the environment in their harvest. Their scarcity and labor intensive harvest is what contribute to truffle’s elevated prices, and when someone says truffles are overrated, Giordano believes it stems from their lack of understanding about truffles. Giordano and his staff travel the country, meeting chefs, educating them about his product and promoting truffles through dinners and classes, in order to fulfil the ultimate goal of helping consumers understand.

Stewart Learmonth

(Department of Agriculture WA)

Stewart LearmonthStewart Learmonth is a senior entomologist with DAFWA and has over 40 years’ experience in management of insect and related pests of a range of horticultural crops in the tropic and temperate zones of Australia. He has undertaken research projects funded by HIAL (formerly HAL), AGWA (formerly GWRDC), RIRDC, ACIAR and WA commodity specific externally funded projects.


This research has contributed to improved understanding of the biology, natural, cultural and chemical control of a range of insect and related invertebrate pests in a range of horticultural crops. Stewart is the co-ordinator for the national collaborative RIRDC and industry funded project investigating the pests and diseases of truffles and their host trees.

Associate Professor Celeste Linde

(Australian National University, ANU College of Medicine, Biology and Environment)

Celeste LindeAssoc. Prof. Celeste Linde works at the Australian National University and has been engaged with the truffle industry for many years. Celeste’s projects have included investigating factors affecting production in truffle orchards and genetic diversity and the mating systems in truffle fungi. Celeste provides diagnostic services to identify truffles and mycorrhizae, conducts tree certification, as well as identifying plant fungal pathogens.

Alan Davey

(Advyron RS Innovations)

Alan DaveyAlan Davey is a rural industry R&D consultant, innovator and business manager based in the ACT. Alan started in the ‘70’s in ecological and plant-based research, firstly in the CSIRO and then a researcher in state-based establishments in W.A. and the ACT.  While in the federal Dept. of Ag, his work resulted in the development of regionally-based food enterprises across Australia. From 2008, Alan was the Senior Research Manager of New Plant Industries at RIRDC for several years and has extensive experience in R&D across a wide range of new plant industries.  More recently, he developed the truffle industry’s current Research and Development Strategy and is part of the current “Pests and Diseases of Truffles” research project.

Peter Dal Santo

(AgAware Consulting Pty Ltd)

Peter Dal SantoPeter has worked in agriculture since graduating with an Agricultural Science degree in 1982. Peter has been involved in pest management for most of his working life, working for some of the leading agchem companies in Australia and overseas. Since 2000, Peter has worked predominately with horticultural industries to address their pest management issues by accessing new pesticides for these industries.


From 2004-13, Peter’s company AgAware Consulting P/L was contracted by Horticulture Australia Ltd to work with all horticultural industries to coordinate pesticide access and pesticide management issues. Recently, AgAware was contracted by Rural Industries Research & Development Corp to work as the Minor Chemical Consultant for small and non-levied industries to address their pest management issues. The project collates the industries pesticide requirements and work with the industry, agchem companies and the APVMA to have the uses registered or available via a permit. The aim is to select pesticides with reduced risk, sound IPM profiles and international market acceptance.

Dr. Peter Stahle

(President, ATGA)

Peter StahleDr. Peter Stahle has been working in the truffle industry since 1995 when he wrote the original economic evaluation of establishing the truffle industry in Australia. He has an intimate and passionate interest in truffles and the development of the industry.Currently, he is the President of ATGA which motivates his desire to meld the truffle industry and help it consolidate its export markets and protect its reputation as a supplier of the world’s best truffles.
Previously he set up a joint venture in Japan for growing truffles, these were marketed in Europe and Asia. He also established Australia’s largest white truffle (Tuber borchii) truffiere, that in March 2015 produced the first DNA certified T. borchii.

Dr. Ainsley Seago

(NSW Department of Primary Industries Biosecurity Collections Unit)

Ainsley SeagoDr. Ainsley Seago is the Insect Collection Manager at the NSW Department of Primary Industries Biosecurity Collections Unit in Orange, NSW. She oversees morphological and DNA-based insect diagnostic services with a specialisation in beetles, and is currently researching the diversity of Australia’s native truffle beetles.

Rohan Prince

(Irrigation Specialist, Department of Agriculture WA)

Rohan PrinceRohan has fifteen years’ experience in agricultural research, development and extension at the Department of Agriculture and Food Western Australia.  He has a strong record in working with industry to identify issues impacting productivity and profitability and identifying solutions that are practical and innovative.  Rohan has been working with industry improving irrigation practices in horticulture for the past 11 years, specialising in remote soil moisture and environmental crop monitoring.  His work with the vegetable industry to maximise production and hence water and nutrient use efficiency, saw Rohan nominated a finalist in both the WA Water Awards and Ausveg National Awards for excellence, winning Industry Impact Award in 2011.

Victoria Taylor

(Flourish Communications)

Victoria_TaylorVictoria Taylor has specialist expertise in primary industries policy and communication. She recently assisted the Australian export hay industry secure a new R&D levy and is currently working with the Australian tea tree oil industry to prepare their case for an R&D levy. Prior to starting her own business, Victoria was the Executive Director of the Ricegrowers’ Association of Australia where she prepared the case for an increase in the rice R&D levy, and was Secretary of the Rice R&D Committee. She is a Member of the Rice Marketing Board for the State of New South Wales and a Non-Executive Director of the Safety Institute of Australia. Victoria is also the Executive Officer of the National Horticulture Research Network.

 Wally Edwards

(Oak Valley Truffle Farm & Truffle Producers WA, Chairman)

Wally EdwardsWally Edwards is a civil engineer and businessman who was born in the country in a small town, Muchea, which is 1 hour north of Perth. He has lived in Perth for most of his life.

He has represented Australia and Western Australia at cricket, built 6 light towers on islands off the Western Australia coast, worked on airfield and other major construction projects and has owned his own businesses for the past 35 years. His business, Holman Industries employs more than 100 full time staff and has offices in Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth.


He has also contributed almost 30 years to cricket administration where he served on the WACA, Cricket Australia and ICC boards including 4 years as chairman of Cricket Australia.

He was introduced to truffles by Nick Malajczuk when he was teaching his son how to play cricket. Nick and Wally formed The Wine & Truffle Co and planted the first truffle trees in 1997. Wally and his wife Kerry ran the WTC business for 12 years until full time management was able to be employed.

Once it was shown that Manjimup would produce commercial quantities of truffle Nick and Wally formed the Oak Valley truffle farm in 2006. Oak Valley is now the largest planting in the region.

Wally is now chairman of Truffle Producers WA (TPWA) and is managing director of Oak Valley Truffles.

Jenny & Wayne Franchesi

(Fresh Produce Alliance)

Coming soon

Ingrid Smith

(Agricultural Produce Commission WA)

Coming soon