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Several Other Winners Announced At The Horticulture Conference

Several other people important to the New Zealand horticulture industry - in addition to Mike Chapman who was awarded the Bledisloe Cup for horticulture - received awards at the Horticulture Conference gala dinner on 5 August at Mystery Creek.

Environmental Award

Emma and Jay Clarke of Woodhaven Gardens in the Horowhenua won the Environmental Award.

Woodhaven Gardens are leaders in sustainable growing, investing significantly in reducing environmental impact, adopting a science-led approach that balances conservation with commercial success.

The Clarkes are leaders in research for the vegetable industry - contributing time, money and land in order to measure and provide evidence. Their large-scale fresh vegetable growing operation is driving change in environmental sustainability, shifting growing areas to reduce nitrogen loss and minimise the impact on freshwater quality.

President’s Trophy

Kylie Faulkner, who was elected as the first woman president of the Pukekohe Vegetable Growers Association in 2019, won the President’s Trophy. This award recognises passion for working on behalf of New Zealand’s horticulture industry, as well as commitment to developing as a business leader and successful grower.

Kylie says she was were born to vegetable growing, ‘being put in an onion bin as a young child when my parents did not want me to get run over in the packhouse’.

Twelve years ago, Kylie returned to the family business and says that ‘to be successful, growers always need to be smarter about the way they grow’.

As president of the Pukekohe Vegetable Growers Association, Kylie has strenuously advocated for growers in the areas of land use, the environment and labour. During Auckland’s lockdowns, Kylie helped ensure that Pukekohe growers could continue to pick, pack and transport their produce, to New Zealanders around the country.

Industry Service Awards

Industry Service Awards are for people who have provided long-standing and significant service to the New Zealand Horticulture Industry. There were three winners this year.

Tim Jones has just stepped down as Chair of Summerfruit New Zealand, a position he held for five years. He has been Chief Executive of 45 South Management for more than 20 years as is passionate about summerfruit, willingly sharing his knowledge and expertise, and advocating for the industry. Covid has seen Tim focusing on labour and ensuring summerfruit can get to export markets, despite ongoing freight issues.

Brent Mathieson is described as a ‘totally committed and loyal servant to the New Zealand horticulture industry’. Brent started his horticulture career in 1979. He has focused on seed, in particular, sweetcorn and dwarf bean varieties for processing but as Brent has neared retirement, he’s looked at outdoor crops such as cauliflower, onions, broccoli, lettuce and carrots.

David Watts left the commercial world more than 30 years ago to take up kiwifruit and avocado orcharding in Katikati.

David has filled many grower representation roles, at New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Incorporated and the Katikati Fruit Growers’ Association, as chairman and as an executive member. David has never stopped giving time and energy to the horticulture industry. He has contributed to more than 40 government submissions and has only just stepped down as Fruit News editor and advertising manager.

Life membership award

Life Membership of Horticulture New Zealand is awarded to people who have provided distinguished and honourable services to Horticulture New Zealand and the industry for at least 10 years. Two industry stalwarts have been bestowed life membership this year.

Leon Stallard has made an enormous contribution to the apple and pear industry for more than 20 years. Leon became President of the Hawkes Bay Fruit Growers Association in 2005 and in this role, established the Young Grower of The Year Competition as a national event.

Leon was elected to the HortNZ Board in 2014 and served until 2020. During this time, Leon played a key role in ensuring the horticulture industry was better understood by government, so they took the industry’s unique characteristics into account in their decisions.

Lex Dillion retired last year after 38 years of working in the horticulture industry. He was involved in the introduction of plastic crate pooling and returnable packing in New Zealand.

Lex has held several governance roles in the tomato and covered crop industries since 2019. Most recently, Lex was on the advisory board that set up the ‘A Lighter Touch’ agroecology project, which is to ‘shift the focus of crop protection, and integrate biological and ecological processes into food production’.

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