Heather Feetham, a 25-year-old production manager at T&G Fresh, has won the 2021 Pukekohe Young Grower competition.
The competition tested the four contestant’s vegetable and fruit growing knowledge as well as skills needed to be a successful grower. Contestants completed modules in marketing, compliance, pests and disease identification, safe tractor driving, health and safety, soil and fertilisers, irrigation and quality control.
“When they called my name saying that I had won, I was really shocked and proud,” says Heather. “The fact that I’m the first women to have won the Pukekohe competition is an added bonus.
“Today’s competition was fierce – I definitely want to credit the other competitors. The other competitors were outstanding, and I was up against some really tough competition. Today was fantastic, it was really fun, and I learnt a lot throughout all the modules.
“I’m excited about the finals. It’s going to take a lot of prep to get myself ready for it, but I will try and make the Pukekohe Vegetable Growers Association proud and represent the region well.”
Heather will go on to represent the Pukekohe growing community in the national Young Grower of the Year competition in Wellington on 22-23, where six other regional finalists will compete for their share of $30,000 worth of prizes.
HortNZ President, Barry O’Neil, says that the Young Grower competition plays an important role in supporting the next generation of growers and leaders.
“With the rapid rate of change and challenges facing the industry, we need to support these talented young growers. Competitions like this give young growers invaluable experience to help start their journey as the leaders of tomorrow. People like Heather show that the future of the industry is in safe hands,” says Barry.
“The horticulture industry has a lot of offer. It’s a rewarding career for those who want to help feed New Zealand and the world healthy food and help us to meet our environmental and climate adaptation goals.
“The competition showcases some of the industry’s top talent. It is a chance for us all to celebrate their success and support the industry’s rising talent. Thank you to South Pacific Seeds and Horticentre, as well as all of our event sponsors for your support.”
Source: Horticulture NZ