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2022 Pukekohe Young Grower of the Year Awards – Supporting the next generation of growers
Congratulations to Sarah Dobson
Last Friday, 20th May 2022, the final of the Pukekohe Young Grower of the Year Awards was held in the Pukekohe Indian Hall in South Auckland. There were four finalists. Many congratulations to the winner Sarah Dobson, Environment and Sustainability Technician at A S Wilcox and Sons Ltd. Sarah is the first finalist that will go on to represent her region in the national competition in September.
The evening component of the competition included a short speech; a quick-fire question round followed by a general knowledge quiz. The practical elements of the competition had been held throughout the day.
The topic, for the short speech was ‘What will horticulture look like in five years?”, I was impressed how each participant approached the topic and the confidence with which they spoke. Sarah went first, she spoke of sustainability and how in five years we may have an industry that needs to produce food with zero residues. Chris Lowe, Orchard Manager at Punchbowl Kiwifruit Services, talked about the role automation, both mechanical and robotic, will play on labour savings for businesses (currently a very hot topic). Marcus Bruce, Broccoli Crop Manager at Sundale Farms ltd – touched on how growers are being portrayed with a bad image, how they are under constant scrutiny from the media and how to address this and in five years-time we need to have improved our image. Last of all Molly Green, Technical Field Advisor at Horticentre Ltd, delivered a very clear point that as consumers we need to be comfortable with and adjust to eating produce that looks “less than perfect” as less and less chemicals will be available.
I found the point Marcus Bruce touched on very important, the image of horticulture and farming is continually being questioned and judged. However, New Zealand Good Agricultural Practices (NZGAP) was established in 1998, so for 24 years we’ve been working to improve practices and the way we do things. GAP was established to provide assurance for the safe and sustainable production of fruit and vegetables in New Zealand. At the same time, consumers were concerned about the origin and safety of their food. Since 1998 the horticulture industry has taken gigantic leaps forward and have become extremely conscious and comply with strict NZGAP industry every day. I hope in five years the image of horticulture is defined by our extremely high sustainable-environmental and quality assurance programmes.
I would like to thank the Pukekohe Vegetables Grower Association (PVGA) for hosting the event. It was superbly organised. I would also like to thank TomatoesNZ for inviting the Grower2Grower team to attend.
HortNZ President and Chairman of TomatoesNZ pictured with winner Sarah Dobson. Barry O’Neil, says ‘the competition is a cornerstone event that brings together the Pukekohe growing community even in trying times.’
Read more about the winner Sarah Dobson here –
Article written and compiled by Stefan Vogrincic
All Article’s checked and edited by Marie Vogrincic
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