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2014 'Young Horticulturist of the Year'

News release September 30, 2014

Will history be made or repeated in the 2014 ‘Young Horticulturist of the Year’?

With ten weeks away from the 2014 ‘Young Horticulturist of the Year’ competition, this year’s six competitors gathered at Auckland’s Botanical Gardens for the AGMARDT Market Innovation seminar. “Through this workshop we introduce the finalists to each other and the planning required for their AGMARDT Market Innovation Projects, a written activity within the competition. Their project ideas have generated some inspired concepts,” says Nicola Rochester, Chair of the RNZIH Education Trust.

Celebrating its tenth year, the competition has helped nurture and develop the careers of finalists and winners across the six horticulture sectors; Horticulture NZ (Vegetable and Fruit sectors) Landscaping New Zealand, NZ Recreation-Amenity Horticulture, NZ Winegrowers, Nursery and Garden Industry of New Zealand.

The ‘Young Horticulturist of the Year’ competition was set up in 2005 to encourage young people under the age of 30, working in horticulture to develop long term careers in the industry. “There are multiple benefits as we see a number of past finalists taking up significant roles in horticulture; a $3.5 billion dollar industry that plays such a valuable role in New Zealand’s economy,” explains Nicola Rochester, Chairperson of RNZIH Education Trust, who have managed the competition since 2005.

History in the making.

Assistant vineyard manager Paul Robinson carries the hopes of the viticulture industry into the 2014 competition. Five of the previous winners have come from the viticulture industry, the most recent being a Wairarapa wine maker Braden Crosby (2012). Paul will have the support of all five of his industry’s winners who are attending the Grand Final Awards dinner.

Last year’s ‘Young Horticulturist of the Year’, Kelly Jean Kerr was the second representative from Nursery and Garden to take home the top prize. This year’s competitor, Invercargill’s Jacqui Jones has her sights set on making it a third for the competition this year.

Past ‘Young Horticulturist of the Year’ winners include a fresh produce exporter (2005) and glasshouse tomato production manager ( 2011). Representing Horticulture NZ this year is Northland kiwifruit and avocado orchard owner Patrick Malley who is working to secure the title for his sector.

Christchurch’s Nic Muir is hoping to make history by being the first contestant representing Landscaping to win the title, and he is not alone. Also based in Christchurch, florist CaitlinThorburn is eagar to take the top prize for the floriculture sector. And Amenity Gardener Sarah Fenwick of Dunedin is equally determined to make her industry proud.

The six meet again to compete in Auckland on November 12 – 13, with winners announced during the Grand Final awards dinner at the Rendezvous Hotel, Auckland, on Thursday 13 November.

This year’s finalists compete for a prize portfolio that includes more than $10,000 to the selected AGMARDT Market Innovation Project winners, a $7,500 travel and accommodation package, $5,500 Massey University study scholarship, $3,500 Turners & Growers travel grant, $2,500 Fruitfed Supplies Leadership grant, $3,000 Primary ITO Professional Development grant, $2,500 Bayer Crop Science scholarship and other products as prizes.

‘The Young Horticulturist of the Year’ competition is generously supported by AGMARDT, Fruitfed Supplies, and Turners & Growers. As well as the competition supporters: Bayer Crop Science, Countdown, Massey University, NZ Gardener magazine, NZ Winegrowers, and Primary ITO.


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