Horticulture NZ's annual report for 2020-2021 shows it was a mixed bag for the country's growers.
Twenty-five-year old van den Heuvel is an avocado grower services representative at Apata Group Limited, based in the Bay of Plenty.
“I am very proud to be in this industry. It is something I am very passionate about. What we produce is very top notch,” she says.
“It was great to be part of this competition and get to know my fellow competitors. We’d all like to thank the sponsors and HortNZ for giving us this opportunity.”
The Young Grower of the Year, run by Horticulture New Zealand, is an annual competition comprising regional finals in major fruit and vegetable growing areas and a national final. The competition is to encourage young people to take up a career in horticulture as well as celebrate the success of young people in the industry.
HortNZ president Barry O’Neil says supporting young people and encouraging more of them to join the industry is critical to its continued success and growth, in what is the new normal – life affected by Covid.
“At times like these, having a cause and taking time out to celebrate it is even more important than it was before,” he says.
“This year’s regional finals were oversubscribed, which shows the inherent optimism in our industry as well as the pride inherent in providing New Zealand and the world with tasty and healthy, fruit and vegetables.”
The national final was held at the Lower Hutt Events on 20 and 21 October, following all Alert Level 2 health and safety protocols.