Young Horticulturist winner announced next week

5 November 2019

Anika Jackson

Rico Mannall

George Tower

Jessie Wakeling

Simon Gourley

Jono Sutton

After rigorous competition throughout the year, the winner of the 2019 Young Horticulturist (Kaiahuone rangatahi o te tau) title is about to be announced.
Five South Islanders and one North Islander are vying for the coveted title, which will be announced at a function in Auckland next week, on Thursday, November 14. The competition recognises and celebrates excellence in people aged under 30, employed in the horticulture industry.

The finalists, who represent six sectors, are: Dunedin’s Anika Jackson (Amenity Horticulture sector); Rico Mannall, of Christchurch (NZ Plant Producers sector);  George Tower, of Christchurch (Master Landscapers sector), Jessie Wakeling, of Auckland (Floristry NZ Inc sector); Simon Gourley, of Otago (NZ Winegrowers’ sector) and Jono Sutton, of Nelson (Horticulture NZ sector).

The finalists hail from the following workplaces: Anika, at Delta; Rico at Southern Woods Nursery; George at Goom Landscapes; Jessie at Soul Flower, Karaka; Simon at Domaine-Thomson Wines; and Jono at Eden Road Fruit.

The journey to the finals has involved six sector competitions held at various times of the year. The finalists have been tested on a diverse range of skills in a competition renowned for its rigor.

This year marks a milestone for the competition, as it celebrates its 15th year.

2019 Young Horticulturist Competition chairperson Elle Anderson says that’s 15 years of providing on opportunity for personal and professional growth for young leaders from the wider horticultural industry.

“It will be these leaders who will inspire the industry and others to ensure our horticultural industry stays ahead of the world with innovations,” she says.

Last year’s winner was Bannockburn viticulturist Annabel Bulk who says she has gained in many ways from the competition.
“I got to meet and share ideas with like-minded people. It also opened my eyes to the variety of work in horticulture and allowed me to network with supporting industry bodies. These experiences were invaluable and meant I could take knowledge back to the viticultural sector and apply new understandings to how I work,” Annabel says.

First, second and third place getters will be announced at Thursday’s awards dinner, and the competition will incorporate additional prize packages for areas such as innovation, practical components, community engagement and leadership.

To qualify for the 2019 Young Horticulturist Competition, entry is via a sector competition. Entry forms (for 2020) for sector competitions and application closing dates are available from the individual industry associations.

The competition has four partnering sponsors – namely: AGMARDT, Countdown, Fruitfed Supplies and T&G.

Fruitfed Supplies national manager Duncan Fletcher says the key focus for Fruitfed Supplies is supporting a competition that encourages young horticulturists across the product and amenity sectors to challenge themselves, keep learning, develop their own style of leadership and to take pride from their commitment to the horticultural industry that serves NZ well in global food markets.

T&G managing director – NZ produce Andrew Keaney says horticulture needs to remain a viable, attractive and fulfilling career option for young people and says being a Young Horticulturist Competition partner is a good fit for T&G – New Zealand’s largest produce company.

“We compete at efficiently producing safe, tasty, high-quality products that are in high demand on the global market. Our fertile soils and our growers are among the best in the world. New Zealand horticulture is an exciting industry to be a part of.”

Countdown head of produce Steve Sexton says Countdown is passionate about great fruit and veg and works hard on fostering its direct grower relationships throughout the country.

“We also want to ensure that we are supporting the next generation of growers and that's why we're really proud to continue to support the Young Horticulturist Event,” he says. 

AGMARDT General Manager Malcolm Nitschke says AGMARDT recognises the Young Horticulturist competition truly reflects the diversity of the industry with competing representatives from various sectors.

“AGMARDT is proud to be a significant sponsor of this event, which is a great way to demonstrate to the wider public that there are opportunities for employment and career growth within the horticultural sectors.”

Elle Anderson says this national competition not only gives young people a chance to grow and expand their horizons, but it also brings together the wider horticultural sectors.

“It is the only event of its kind that provides this opportunity and because of this it is an important event for the primary sectors of New Zealand.

“Full support from the industries related to horticulture ensure this competition continues to grow and provide a vital growing platform for young people. It is through the development of these young people that the New Zealand horticultural industry will ensure viability, new thinking and a major player on the world market,” she says.

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Simon Gourley
Young Horticulturist 2019

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Thanks to the generosity of our sponsors the Young Horticulturist of the Year competition offers a fantastic range of prizes and awards. Check these out.


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