When scientists Marilyn Duxson and John Harris purchased a small section near Wanaka almost 20 years ago, they planned to build a ski holiday house to spend weekends away from Dunedin.
Six competitors are expected to compete in the one-day event, the first of its kind for the region. The winner will earn a place in the national competition hosted by Horticulture New Zealand in Christchurch on 12-13 August, where they will go up against four other young growers from around the country.
"This year marks the first time that we've held a regional Young Fruit Grower competition in Otago. It's great to see the high standard and calibre of the contestants and highlights the great talent we have in the region," says Grant McKay, co-ordinator of the competition.
The six competitors come from across the Otago region:
· Alexandra: Jonathan Bates (22), CAJ Van der Voorts (Hollandia Orchard, Earnsclugh); Adam Low (24), McIntosh Orchards
· Roxburgh: Jack Gilchrist (21), Willowbrook
· Cromwell: Michael Harland (23), Fortune Fruit Company; James Huffadine (23), Parkburn Management
· Timaru: Damien Febery (29), MA Orchards Timaru
The competition puts contestants through a range of challenges designed to test their core skills of running a fruit growing business. These include identifying biosecurity pests and diseases, tractor skills and irrigation.
The winner of the Central Otago Young Fruit Grower competition receives a cash prize of $1500 and the opportunity to compete for the national 2015 Young Grower of the Year award.
The Central Otago Fruit Grower 2015 competition will be held on Wednesday 27 May from 9am at the Central Otago campus, Horticulture Training facility, 25 Bannockburn Rd, Cromwell. The winner will be announced at an awards ceremony at the end of the day's activities.