Budding Tasman orchardist crowned Nelson’s young fruit grower

08 Jul 2017

Ralph Bastian from Appleby has emerged victorious against five other entrants to be named Nelson’s Young Fruit Grower for 2017.

The day-long competition at Hoddy’s Orchard, in Hope, on Friday saw competitors engage in a series of practical challenges designed to test the skills needed to successfully run a thriving horticulture business.

Ralph Bastian, 29, works Wai West Horticulture in their pipfruit sector as an orchard/block supervisor and was runner-up in last year's competition. This year he received top marks for a number of the competition’s activity sections including first aid, irrigation, orchard analysis and soils as well as being named overall quiz winner.

Aaron Finlay, 25, from Turners and Growers in Riwaka was competition runner up. Daniel Thomas, 22, from Thomas Bros Orchard in Riwaka was second runner up.

“The competition has been a fantastic opportunity to test my horticultural and business skills,” said Ralph. “I’m hugely excited to represent Nelson fruit growers at the national final next month.”

The Nelson event is just the start. Ralph Bastian, together with three other regional Young Fruit Growers and the winner of the recent Young Vegetable Grower competition, will go on to compete for the 2017 Young Grower of the Year title in Christchurch.

The Young Grower of the Year competition is run by Horticulture New Zealand and is now in its eleventh year.

HortNZ chief executive, Mike Chapman, said Ralph had a bright future ahead of him and exemplified the capability of young people in today’s rapidly growing horticultural industry.

Mr Chapman said the aim of the competition was to foster excellence amongst young growers and future-proof the $5 billion horticultural industry that exports 60% of total production to about 124 countries.

Ralph’s prize includes a professional development tour to a growing region of their choice to learn about its horticulture industry, sponsored by the Fruitgrowers’ Charitable Trust, a cash prize of $1,500 and an all-expenses paid trip to compete for the national 2017 Young Grower of the Year title in August.