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The Young Horticulturalist of the Year Competition of 2014

The Young Horticulturalist of the Year Competition
of 2014 is less than three months away.

Six of the competitors recently gathered at the Auckland Botanical Gardens for the AGMARDT Market Innovation seminar. Nicola Rochester, the chair of the RNZIH Education trust said, “Through this workshop we introduce the finalists to each other and the planning required for their AGMARDT Market Innovation Projects, a written activity within the competition. Their project ideas have generated some inspired concepts.

This is the competition’s tenth anniversary. Over the years the competition has furthered the careers of the finalists throughout all six of the horticultural sectors involved; Horticulture NZ, which deals with both the fruit and vegetable sectors; NZ Recreation/Amenity Horticulture; NZ Winegrowers; the Nursery and Garden Industry of New Zealand, and Landscaping New Zealand.

This competition was established in 2005 in the hopes of encouraging those not yet aged 30, who were already working in horticulture, to pursue careers in this field. The chair of the RNZIH Education Trust, Nicola Rochester, clarified “there are multiple benefits as we see a number of past finalists taking up significant roles in horticulture, which is a 3.5 billion dollar industry that plays such a valuable role in New Zealand’s economy. He has managed the competition since its inception in 2005.

The winner of the 2013 competition was Kelly Jean Kerr. She is only the second representative from the Nursery and Garden sector to win. Although the current Nursery and Garden representative Jacqui Jones has high hopes of victory.

The winner of the first ever competition was someone who exported fresh produce, and in 2011 the winner was a tomato production manager. Horticulture NZ is represented in the current field, by Patrick Malley; the owner of Northland kiwi and avocado orchards.

This year Paul Robinson, who is an assistant vineyard manager, represents the viticulture industry. This sector has produced five of the previous competition winners, including last years winner, Braden Crosby. All five past winners from this sector will be at the Grand Final Awards presentation and dinner, which will take place in Auckland on November 12th and 13th. The winners will be announced on the 13th.

Nic Muir of Christchurch would be the first contestant representing the Landscaping sector to win the title, if successful this year. Also from Christchurch is Caitlin Thorburn, representing the florist’s sector. Sarah Fenwick, an Amenity Gardener from Dunedin will be representing her industry this year.

This year these six are competing for prizes worth over $10,000; a travel package worth $7,500; a Massey University Scholarship, worth $5,500; a travel grant from Turners & Growers that is worth $3,500; a leadership grant from Fruitfed Supplies worth $2,500; a professional development grant from Primary ITO worth $3,000; a Bayer Crop Science scholarship worth $2,500; as well as other prizes.

The Young Horticulturalist of the Year is supported by Turners & Growers, Fruitfed Supplies, and AGMARDT. It is also supported by Massey University, Bayer Crop Science, Countdown, NZ Winegrowers, Primary ITO, and NZ Gardener Magazine.

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