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Young vegetable grower takes national title

27 July 2011

Young vegetable grower takes national title

Ben Smith from Pukekohe was named Young Grower of the Year last night at the Horticulture New Zealand Conference 2011.

The Young Grower of the Year competition was a day-long event held at Rotorua’s Energy Events Centre as part of this year’s Horticulture New Zealand Conference. It tested four regional finalists on a range of essential horticulture business and practical skills, including driving a tractor, employment relations and public speaking to more than 400 delegates last night.

Horticulture New Zealand President, Andrew Fenton said Ben was a very strong competitor.

“We could see that Ben gave 100% in every challenge, he showed agility, confidence and had a real business and technical sense of the horticulture industry."

Ben, (29), was excited by the win, saying it was a privilege to receive the award, especially given the calibre of his competitors.

Ben also thanked the organisers of the Young Grower competition. “Without their help, I wouldn’t have got this far, I’m thrilled to be taking the national title back to Pukekohe” he said.

Ben works for Status Produce in Pukekohe. He earned his place at the competition after taking out the Young Vegetable Grower title earlier this year, he now wins $4,000 and a trip to Australia to visit other tomato crop growers.

Ben beat three fruit growers to win the national title of Young Grower of the Year.

Kevin Withington from Nelson won Best Speech and the Young Fruit Grower of the Year title, Campbell Wood from the Bay of Plenty won Best Practical. Ben also took the award for the Ballance Leadership Panel as well as the title of Young Vegetable Grower of the Year.

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This will be the third year that the Young Grower of the Year competition has been held. Run by Horticulture New Zealand, the competition is supported by Platinum Sponsor ZESPRI International and others who recognise and celebrate young leaders in the horticulture industry, who have both excellent technical skills and leadership capabilities.

Platinum sponsors ZESPRI International CEO Iain Jager says “We are very pleased to be the Platinum Sponsor for the 2011 Young Grower of the Year. This competition is a wonderful way for young growers to take their horticultural careers to the next level by receiving mentoring from industry experts. Well done Ben.”


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