Eight of the Bay of Plenty’s top young growers are being tested to the limit today as they take part in a series of skills events at the Te Puke A&P Show.
In the specially designed ‘Horticultural Village’ site at the show, they are competing in practical and theory events in the first stage of their endeavours to win the title of 2019 Bay of Plenty Young Grower of the Year.
The final test will be presenting a speech at the awards dinner in Tauranga on Wednesday February 13.
Vying for the top title and a range of awards are; Alex Ashe, technical advisor, Farmlands; Andrew Jenkins, orchard cadet, Seeka; Dylan Wadsworth, orchard manager, Baygold; Emily Crum, orchard manager, Prospa (EastPack); Georgia Guy-Williams, laboratory manager / inventory assistant, Apata Group; Hamish McKain, avocado manager / production manager, DMS Progrowers; Megan Fox, orchard technical advisor, Southern Cross Horticulture and Ranjit Singh, orchard manager, Weskco.
Today, under the watchful eye of judges, the contestants are demonstrating their knowledge and abilities in skills vital to the management of a successful orchard, including tractor proficiency, orchard profitability, and plant nutrition.
On Wednesday night, at the gala dinner, compared by entertainer Jackie Clarke, each contestant will present a speech on the topic of ‘Future disruptors to horticulture’ before an audience of 420 guests, including industry leaders.
The 2019 Bay of Plenty Young Grower’s prize package includes sponsorship to attend the annual Horticulture New Zealand Conference, a media and presentation development course, and an all-expenses paid trip to compete for the national 2019 Young Grower of the Year title in October as well as cash prizes.
Now in its 12th year, the competition is organised by the Bay of Plenty Young Fruit Grower Upskilling Committee with support from New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Inc.
Andrew Dawson, Chair of the Bay of Plenty Young Fruit Growers Upskilling Committee, says, "The avocado and kiwifruit industries are booming in the Bay of Plenty and we want to ensure that there are leaders with scientific, commercial and technical backgrounds to continue its success into the future. The Young Fruit Grower competition is a great way to promote and build the young and upcoming talent that our industry has."
Horticulture New Zealand chief executive Mike Chapman agrees that these competitions are an excellent showcase of the potential opportunities in the horticulture industry.
"The Young Grower competition doesn’t just show what you can accomplish with a career in horticulture, but how to develop the skills and experience to get there. Horticulture is a growing industry, and there are amazing opportunities for everyone willing to put the work in.
"The Bay of Plenty competition, and similar competitions held around the country, showcase the amazing talent we have working in our industry."
Event organiser Renee Fritchley says, "This year we have had a record number of contestants apply to compete, and for the first-time tickets to the gala dinner have sold out well in advance. This is a reflection of how dedicated our industry is to encouraging future talent, and the level of drive and commitment we are seeing from our future leaders coming through.
“The original MC for the gala dinner was actress and comedian Madeleine Sami. Since accepting the role to moderate at the dinner, Madeleine’s movie the ‘Breaker Upperers’ has been picked up by Netflix and she will attend the launch in Hollywood so is unable to be at our dinner. However, Jackie Clarke will be the new MC of the evening. She is a great entertainer and we are very pleased to be able to secure her for this important evening.”
The champion of the Bay of Plenty competition will progress to the Young Grower of the Year national final, to be held in Tauranga in October. There, they will join the winners of the Nelson, Hawke’s Bay, Gisborne, and Central Otago regionals, as well as a Young Vegetable Grower, to compete for the national title of Young Grower 2019.
For more information on the competition, visit: www.bopyoungfruitgrower.co.nz.