The title of New Zealand’s Young Vegetable Grower 2011 was awarded to Ben Smith from Pukekohe, Auckland on Thursday evening.
The competition held at a farm just outside Christchurch and was the culmination of a day-long event involving a variety of challenges which tested skills essential to success in the growing industry. Challenges included driving a tractor, assembling an irrigation system, providing a marketing plan and a RMA task on water.
Ben wins a trip to Australia to visit various vegetable producers, and the opportunity to compete for the Young Grower of the Year title at the national competition, held in conjunction with the Horticulture New Zealand conference in late July.
Ben said the experience was a rewarding one. “It was great to be able to show to my family, friends and workmates how much I’ve learnt during my time as a grower. I think I’ve really proved myself and I’m looking forward to competing at the national competition.”
Second place went to David Winter and Troy Matthews was placed third, both finalists are from Canterbury.
Competition co-coordinator Graham Martin says that the regional competition offers young people in the industry a chance to prove their talent and gain recognition for it.
“It’s an opportunity to celebrate excellence in the young people we have working in horticulture. Horticulture New Zealand recognises that supporting young growers and creating opportunities for them is necessary to ensure the success and growth of the industry. Young growers like Ben prove that the horticulture industry will be in safe hands for the future.”