Six of Nelson’s best young fruit growers are preparing to compete in next week’s regional young fruit grower competition.
The competition is an annual event to find Nelson’s best young fruit grower. The winner progresses to the national Young Grower of the Year final, held in August in Christchurch, where they will compete against four regional fruit and the winner of the young vegetable grower competition for the national title.
This year’s entrants include:
- Ralph Bastian, 29, block supervisor, Wai West Horticulture in Appleby
- Rowan Cox, 25, orchard supervisor, Thomas Bros, Riwaka
- Daniel Thomas, 22, assistant coolstore manager, Thomas Bros, Riwaka
- Aaron Finlay, 25, senior leading hand, T&G, Riwaka
- Corey Newport, 27, packhouse 2IC, Heywood Orchards, Motueka
- Lee Beloe, 29, assistant apple grower, Vailima Orchard, Waimea Plains
The contestants will complete eight practical exercises designed to test the skills needed to run a successful orchard, including demonstrating their knowledge of irrigation and soils and completing a first aid exercise. At the awards evening that night they will show off their public speaking skills, speaking to 220 attendees on the topic of inspirational leadership.
Prizes include 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.
“The young fruit grower competition showcases our top young talent. It’s exciting to see our young industry leaders in action, putting their knowledge and skills to the test,” said Mike Chapman, chief executive of Horticulture New Zealand, which runs the national final.
“Each year our contestants continue to lift the standard and we expect that this year will be no different.”
“These young growers are the future of our industry, and the competition provides a good measure of how well we support young up and coming growers. We wish all competitors the best of luck and look forward to seeing them in action,” said Mr Chapman.
The Nelson Young Fruit Grower competition will be held on Friday 7 July from 10am at Hoddy’s Orchard in Hope. The awards dinner will follow from 5pm at Headingly Centre, Richmond.