Young Growers to face off in Napier final

08 Aug 2018
New Zealand’s top young fruit and vegetable growers will compete for the title of Young Grower of the Year in Napier on Wednesday, 22 August.

Seven finalists - the most the competition has ever seen - will go head to head at venues along the Napier waterfront. They will face a gauntlet of practical and theoretical challenges designed to test their knowledge and skills around running a successful growing business.

This year’s finalists are: 

Bay of Plenty Young Fruit Grower 2018 - Danni van der Heijden, technical representative at Avoca. 

New Zealand Young Vegetable Grower 2018 (1st equal) - Esteban Ibanez, production agronomist at Leaderbrand South Island.

New Zealand Young Vegetable Grower 2018 (1st equal) - Gurjant Singh, assistant grower at T&G.

Central Otago Young Fruit Grower 2018 - Hamish Darling, horticulturalist at Moorpark and Mulberry Orchard.

Nelson Young Fruit Grower 2018 - Dillon Peterson, orchard hand at Hoddy’s Fruit Co.

Hawke’s Bay Young Fruit Grower 2018 - Lisa Arnold, orchard operations assistant at Bostock New Zealand.

Gisborne Young Fruit Grower 2018 - Matt Gomm, orchard leader at Burnside Trust.

During the day, finalists will rotate their way through four business and four practical activities. In the afternoon, they will take part in the Ballance Agri-Nutrients Leadership Panel to give their views on a contemporary leadership issue. Spectators are welcome to attend all events.

The final test will be delivering a speech in front of the judges at an awards dinner. For those who cannot attend, both the panel and speeches will be livestreamed on the Horticulture New Zealand YouTube channel.

Horticulture New Zealand CEO Mike Chapman says that the growth of the competition mirrors the growth of the industry.

"Horticulture is both exciting and innovative, attracting some of the best talent in the country - people like these finalists are testaments to that," says Chapman.

"We always need more eager young people in horticulture, and seeing these outstanding contestants demonstrating the value and scope of the industry will encourage others to consider it as well."

Young Grower of the Year is an annual competition run by Horticulture New Zealand to find the best young fruit or vegetable grower in the country. The winner will go on to represent the fruit and vegetable sectors at the Young Horticulturist of the Year competition, where they will compete for their share of $40,000 worth of prizes.

The competition’s practical modules will take place at Soundshell, Marine Parade, while the business modules, leadership panel, and awards dinner will be held at the Napier Conference Centre. For tickets for the evening awards dinner - one of industry's most anticipated events - or for more information, click here.