People profile: Alex Tomkins

30 Jun 2020

Alexandra 800px

Alex Tomkins is already making waves within the horticulture industry, despite not yet having left Massey University.

Now in the final year of studies for her Bachelor of AgriCommerce degree, Alex is majoring in International AgriBusiness with a minor in Horticulture and is also president of the Massey Horticulture Society.  Alex has received several scholarships during her studies, including scholarships from HortNZ, Zespri, Avoco, a Prime Minister’s Scholarship, and most recently, Agcarm’s horticultural scholarship.


What did you do during lockdown, and how was it?
I went home to Tauranga for lockdown and spent Level three and four with my parents and older sister. 

The Covid-19 lockdown meant university study was transitioned to online learning, so I spent my time continuing on with my studies. I also enjoyed spending time with my family, keeping fit for a potential netball season, and enjoying the beautiful autumn Bay of Plenty weather by going for walks and bike rides in my local area. 


What do you think are the industry's major challenges post Covid-19? 
It was great to see that horticulture was an essential service throughout lockdown. However, I can imagine closure of fresh produce stores, restaurants, and cafes would have caused lasting disruptions in horticultural supply chains. The closure of borders has definitely proved to be a challenge for industries to get the labour needed for harvest. There is also uncertainty for next year’s harvest season if boarders continue to be closed next year and seasonal staff can't enter the country. Overcoming these challenges is no small task which will require constant collaboration.

 alex zespri scholarship recipient
Alex was the 2017 Zespri scholarship recipient. “Even though I haven't grown up on an orchard or lived on one, they're all around me in the Bay of Plenty.” Source: Zespri


What do you think the opportunities might be, once we’re further through Covid-19? 
Covid-19 has forced us become more connected virtually both domestically and internationally. Although face to face contact can't be completely replaced, Covid-19 has definitely highlighted the opportunities of technology. Given the current Covid-19 economic crisis and job losses, the growth and job opportunities within the horticultural sector also offer the industry the chance to promote careers in horticulture, and up-skill kiwi workers from other sectors.  


Any ideas about what the rest of 2020 will bring for you? Any plans around work or study, or is it too early to tell given current circumstances? 
2020 has definitely been a year of surprises and uncertainty, but I'm looking forward to university study returning to being on campus. It will return to mostly face to face teaching for next semester which will be my final semester of my Bachelor of AgriCommerce degree. I'm excited to graduate and hopefully be working within the horticulture industry next year! 



For more information on career pathways in horticulture,