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Future of horticulture industry looks bright

Future of horticulture industry looks bright as national vege champion prepares for Young Grower of the Year 2014 final

One of New Zealand’s top young vegetable growing talents will go head-to-head next month for the title of Young Grower of the Year 2014.

Brett Parker, from Pukekohe, beat six other young vegetable growers from across the country to be crowned the Young Vegetable Grower 2014 in April.

Brett will be looking to impress judges as he goes up against three regional Young Fruit Grower finalists for the national title in the final, run by Horticulture New Zealand in Christchurch on 14 August. The three young fruit growers, from the Nelson, Hawke’s Bay and Bay of Plenty regions will also compete for the Young Fruit Grower of the Year 2014 title, at the same time.

“At Horticulture New Zealand we are hugely excited about this year’s final. We are delighted that yet again it has attracted some extremely talented young growers from across our industry,” said Julian Raine, President of Horticulture New Zealand.

“The Young Grower of the Year competition is now in its sixth year and the standard of the competition we’ve seen over the years has really been outstanding. No matter the outcome, each finalist has such a promising career ahead of them and they give us huge confidence for the future of the New Zealand horticulture industry. We are looking forward to seeing what they do on the day.”

Three regional Young Fruit Grower winners and the national Young Vegetable Grower 2014 will face each other in the final, they are:

· Nelson Young Fruit Grower 2014 - Steve Thomas, Kiwifruit New Variety Manager and Coolstore Manager for Thomas Bros (Riwaka)

· Young Vegetable Grower 2014 - Brett Parker, Assistant Crop Manager for Hinemoa Quality Producers (Pukekawa)

· Hawke’s Bay Young Fruit Grower 2014 - Graeme Hodges, Orchard Manager at Rutherglen Orchard (Havelock North)

· Bay of Plenty Young Fruit Grower 2014 - Patrick Malley, contracting manager/director at Onyx Capital kiwifruit and avocado orchard in Maungatapere (Northland).

During the final, contestants will face a series of practical and theoretical challenges, designed to replicate those faced in an orchard or on-farm working environment. The finalists will then deliver a speech in front of the judges at a dinner event, before the winner is announced.

Young Grower of the Year 2013, Ben James, said that the competition is great at encouraging young people to pick-up skills they might not have done otherwise.

“The competition was hugely challenging but also a great learning experience. It put me in the mind set of constantly striving to learn new skills and stretch myself, and I have carried this with me back into my day-to-day work.”

“I also really valued meeting the other competitors and having the opportunity to share ideas and experiences with them. I can’t wait to see what this years’ finalists will show us.”

The final of Young Grower of the Year will take place at Rydges Latimer, in Christchurch on 14 August 2014.


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