Bay News Editor and reporter for NZME.

Horticulture hopefuls gearing up for Bay of Plenty Young Grower title

Erin Atkinson was the first female to win the Bay of Plenty Young Grower of the Year competition last year.
Erin Atkinson was the first female to win the Bay of Plenty Young Grower of the Year competition last year.

Local horticultural enthusiasts are gearing up for the BOP Young Grower of the Year competition later this month.

Bay of Plenty Young Fruitgrower Upskilling Committee chairwoman Katy McGinity says it is an important industry event due to the professional development opportunities it provides to the industry's emerging leaders.

"The winner also goes on to compete at a national level, which provides further development as well as national exposure."

The event is being held in conjunction with the Te Puke A&P Show, and there are six competitors vying for the title.

Contestants will compete in a range of practical and theory activities throughout the day with the final challenge, a speech competition taking place at a Gala Dinner and award evening the following week.

The biggest challenge facing the industry at the moment was attracting young talent to a career in horticulture, she says.

"We are a growth industry and competitions of this type work to illustrate not only the varied career opportunities throughout the industry but also the collaborative nature of our industry."

NZKGI are part of the Horticulture Capability Group which is a national initiative made up of NZ Avocado, Pipfruit, HortNZ, Hawkes Bay Fruitgrowers and Vegetables NZ that works to attract young people to horticulture, she says.

Zespri Chief Grower and Alliances officer Dave Courtney says it has been the gold sponsor for the BOP Young Grower of the Year competition since it started.

"We're proud to support for this important industry event, which has become a real highlight of the kiwifruit calendar. Events like this help to build the skills and leadership our industry needs to succeed in the long term."

"We also support the Grow Your Career programme which introduces students across the Bay of Plenty to the great careers on offer in the kiwifruit industry, along with scholarships and continuing development for experienced industry professionals."

Horticulture New Zealand chief executive Mike Chapman says the Young Grower competitions show that there are intelligent, ambitious young people building careers in the horticulture industry.

"This promotes horticulture as an exciting and potentially rewarding career path for other young people throughout New Zealand."

"We need young people, now more than ever, to be prepared to step into our shoes."
Many horticultural farm and orchard owners will be retiring in the next 15 to 20 years, he says.

"So we need good succession plans in place. Those entering and establishing themselves in the industry now are the future of the industry, and we want them thinking about long careers in horticulture. Young Grower not only does that, but also offers career development."

Last year's winner

2017's winner was Erin Atkinson, the first female to win the Bay of Plenty Competition.
Erin is a Technical Advisor at Apata Group.

She has a Bachelor of Science in Horticulture and is passionate about promoting horticulture as a solid career opportunity. Erin went on to win the National Young Grower competition which qualified her to compete at the National Young Horticulturalist Competition where she won the Horticentre Trust Community Engagement Award.

Benefits to the region

* The horticulture industry is a growth industry and so are the job opportunities associated with it.
* The industry is committed to developing young people.
* Horticulture profits the BOP by about $910 million per annum

THE DETAILS

* Bay of Plenty Young Fruit Grower competition day
* Te Puke A&P Show, Te Puke Showgrounds
* Saturday, February 10 from 9am — 4pm.
* Bay of Plenty Young Fruit Grower Gala dinner with speech competition and announcement of winners
* ASB Stadium, Thursday February 15 from 5.30pm
* Gala dinner tickets and more information: www.bopyoungfruitgrower.co.nz

- Bay News

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