Young vegetable growers vie for national title

There'll be fierce competition when seven New Zealand vegetable growers vie for the title of Young Vegetable Grower of the Year on Friday.

The competition is being held in Auckland's vegetable growing area of Pukekohe, and will see contestants demonstrate their knowledge and skills around topics vital to the management of a successful horticulture business.

They include tractor proficiency, sales and marketing, and health and safety. 

The victor will be crowned Young Vegetable Grower of the Year, and move on to the Young Grower national final, to be held in Tauranga in October. 

There, they will join the winners of the Bay of Plenty, Central Otago, Hawke’s Bay, Nelson, and Gisborne regional fruit-grower events, to compete for the national title of Young Grower of the Year 2019.

Horticulture New Zealand chief executive Mike Chapman said the competition was a highlight of the year, and vital to the future of the growing industry.

"This competition not only helps to develop our future leaders, but also shines a spotlight on the dedicated young people who grow New Zealand’s healthy food," he said.

"This is one of the biggest vegetable competitions we’ve had, with seven excellent entrants," said Chapman.

Prizes for the winner include a media and presentation development course and an all-expenses paid trip to compete in the national 2019 Young Grower of the Year final. 

There are also prizes for the winners of each individual competition event.

The Young Vegetable Grower competition is organised by the Pukekohe Vegetable Growers Association (PVGA), with support from Horticulture New Zealand. 

Pravin Hari, chair of the PVGA, said it was a great competition for the vegetable industry.

"Young Vegetable Grower provides a platform for the younger members of our industry to test themselves," he said.

This year's entrants are:

  • Austin Singh Purewal (18), Purewal Growers Ltd
  • Jaeseung Lee (27), technical manager at Superb Herb
  • Isabelle Peterson (23), Planting Manager at Sutherland Produce
  • Sean Cannady (26), packing supervisor at AS Wilcox
  • Francis Dee (24), assistant grower manager in covered crops at Turners and Growers
  • Scott Harvey (28), technical support for potatoes at AS Wilcox
  • Craig Botting (24), planting supervisor and tractor operator at Scott Fresh Ltd.

Listen to an interview with Mike Chapman on Rural Today.

Rural Today with Dominic George airs weekdays 5:30-6am on Magic Talk.