Two Cantabrians in Young Horticulturist finals

George Tower

Rico Mannall

Christchurch is faring well in the lead-up to November’s Young Horticulturist of the Year competition.

Of the four finalists already selected to compete in the 2019 Young Horticulturist Competition, two are from Christchurch. 

Former Lincoln University student George Trower of Goom Landscapes has just won the Young Landscaper of the Year award. He will join fellow Christchurch competitor Rico Mannall, of Tai Tapu, at the finals. Rico, a Southern Woods business development and marketing manager, won the Young Achiever title (a NZ plant producers’ category) for 2019 at the NZ Plant Producers Incorporated (NZPPI) conference in Christchurch earlier this year.

George and Rico will compete against representatives from four other horticultural sectors at the 2019 Young Horticulturist Competition grand final in November. They will be up against Anika Jackson from Dunedin, who will represent the Young Amenity sector, and Auckland’s Jessie Wakeling, who won the floriculture competition. Still to be determined are the remaining two finalists of the Young Grower and Viticulture sectors.  

Last year’s competition winner was Annabel Bulk, a viticulturist with Felton Road Wines in Central Otago’s Bannockburn.
The Young Horticulturist Competition recognises and celebrates excellence in people aged under 30, employed in the horticulture industry. Rigorous competition and multiple skills are part of the journey to becoming a Young Horticulturist Competition finalist.

George, who has been with Goom Landscapes for nearly three years, is a landscape foreman. He has a Landscape Architecture degree from Lincoln University (which he completed in 2016) and began working at Goom Landscape on an internship. He started in the office but, once his practical-based skills were recognised, he was put out in the field - initially as a labourer, although promotion was swift.

George says he felt “esctatic” about winning the competition in which a wide range of ability and skill sets were tested. This ranged from  knowing your plants, to setting out a profile, to health and safety matters.

“I’m happy with myself and my effort. It’s been an achievement I have been eyeing up for a year or so,” says George who lives in Bishopdale.

Meanwhile, Rico has degrees in commerce and arts from The University of Canterbury.He is passionate about ecommerce, which he sees as a big growth opportunity for Southern Woods and his industry as a whole. He’s also excited about opportunities associated with Government’s billion trees programme, with its goal to plant one billion trees by 2028.

2019 Young Horticulturist Competition chairperson Elle Anderson says this year marks a milestone with the competition celebrating its 15th year.

“That is 15 years of providing an 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.

The 2019 Young Horticulturist Competition has AGMARDT, Countdown, Fruitfed Supplies and T&G as partnering sponsors.
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.”

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. 

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Simon Gourley
Young Horticulturist 2019

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