THE BOP YOUNG FRUIT GROWER
2019 Bay of Plenty Young Fruit Grower of the Year
Is Alex Ashe!
Alex Ashe, a technical advisor at Farmlands Te Puna, was named Bay of Plenty’s Young Fruit Grower for 2019 at an awards dinner in Tauranga on Wednesday 13 February.
The practical competition took place on Saturday, 9 February, at Te Puke Showgrounds, where the eight competitors tested their skills and ability to run a successful orchard in a series of challenges. These were followed by a speech competition discussing the lessons learnt by the horticulture industry at the gala dinner with the winners announced after.
Alex applied to compete in Young Grower because he “enjoys a challenge, and saw an opportunity to develop new skills”. He also wants to “promote horticulture as a career to younger generations, and feels that Young Grower is a great opportunity to do so”.
Runner-up was Hamish McKain, an avocado / production manager at DMS Progrowers, while Emily Crum, an orchard manager at Prospa (EastPack) Te Puke,was third.
Alex’s prize includes all-expenses paid to compete for the title of national Young Grower of the Year 2019 in Tauranga in October, as well as $1500 cash. Alex also excelled in individual challenges, and especially impressed judges with his speech on lessons learnt by the horticulture industry.
"It was such an enjoyable event because everybody was there to support each other," says Alex, "and everyone wants to help the youth of the industry do their best."
"Anybody who is looking to compete next year, give it a go; it’s a great event!"
Andrew Dawson, Chair of the Bay of Plenty Young Fruit Growers Upskilling Committee, says the 2019 event was again proven to have a high calibre of competitors.
"Congratulations to all of the contestants who displayed exceptional skills, as well as showing off the great variety of opportunities that are available in the horticulture industry."
New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Incorporated CEO Nikki Johnson says, "It is essential that young people are attracted to join the kiwifruit industry to achieve our forecasted growth. The Young Fruit Grower competition provides an excellent example of the different commercial, technical and scientific opportunities that the industry offers. I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate all of this year's competitors who have displayed the talent our industry has."
Horticulture New Zealand CE Mike Chapman agreed, and says that these competitions are a highlight of the annual horticulture calendar.
"As a Bay of Plenty local, I know that talented young people like Alex exist in our industry. The Bay of Plenty Young Grower competition shows the rest of the country what we’ve been saying all along; horticulture is a growth industry, and you can make an excellent career out of it if you put the effort in.
"Alex and the other contestants are exactly the kind of people the future of our industry will be based on, and it’s great to see them getting the limelight they deserve."
Alex will go on to compete in the national Young Grower of the Year competition, run by Horticulture New Zealand. There, they will join the winners of the Nelson, Hawke’s Bay, Gisborne, and Central Otago regionals, as well as a Young Vegetable Grower, to compete for the national title of Young Grower 2019, proudly sponsored by the Horticentre Trust.
Thinking of Entering Next Year’s Competition?
Check out what 2018’s Bay of Plenty Young Fruit Grower winner, Danni van der Heijden, has to say about her experience…
Tell us about your experience participating in the 2018 BOP Young Fruit Grower competition..
“The BOP Young Fruit Grower Competition was a fantastic experience, preparation for the competition encouraged me to learn more about the practical side of growing Avocados and Kiwifruit such as; chainsaw maintenance, injecting avocados and tractor driving. The competition also helped to increase my confidence when speaking in front of a large number of people, and I believe this helped with the speaking aspects of the national competition.”
What do contestants get out of this event?
“The opportunity to learn about other aspects of the industry, speech and media training, the experience of speaking in front of a large audience and to meet and get to know other young people in the industry.”
Why is this event important to the industry?
“The event is important to increase the visibility of the horticulture industry, particularly to young people. It also brings people from different parts of the industry together for a common cause.”
What would you say to someone that is considering entering this competition?
“Participating is a great opportunity, you learn a lot, are exposed to parts of the industry you may not experience otherwise and you meet lots of great people. Give it a go!!”