(Above) A hortisport event. (Below) Canaan Balck and Craig Ward (Photographs by Ivor Earp-Jones).
Young Grower of the Year is an annual competition to determine the best young fruit or vegetable grower in the country. Last week the winners of the five regional competitions competed for the national title in Christchurch.
During the final, contestants faced a series of practical and theoretical challenges, designed to replicate those faced in an orchard or on-farm working environment.
One of the finalists was Craig Ward, a Technical advisor at Apata Group Limited in Katikati.
“I decided to enter the competition because I thought it would be a good way to meet people outside of the Kiwifruit industry and a good way to get myself noticed. I also thought it would be a bit a bit of fun and that’s definitely been the case!”
Sue Pickering is the Senior Business Manager at Horticulture New Zealand. She says events like this are impotant because one of the key challenges the industry is facing is attracting young people.
“We export to over 124 countries and to continue to be leading edge we need professional, innovative and global young people coming through and we’ve got a problem as we haven’t got enough of them, we’re not getting enough into universities, training and jobs”.
The Young Grower of the Year competition was won by Hamish Gates, a Carrot washline supervisor at AS Wilcox & Sons in Pukekohe. Hamish received $2000 in cash and entry to compete at the 2015 Young Horticulturalist of the Year competition in November.