Supervisor at Webbs horticulture champion

THE best of Central Otago’s young fruit and vegetable growers went head to head last week but only one could be crowned king.

Webbs Fruit orchard supervisor Jacob Coombridge was named the Central Otago Young Grower of the Year, the best of of eight contestants.

Organised by Horticulture New Zealand, the annual competition tested competitors’ fruit and vegetable-growing knowledge as well as skills in irrigation, pests and disease identification, safe tractor operating, first aid, soil and fertilisers and risk management.

Mr Coombridge said the competition had been a big thing to work towards and it felt great to take home the win.

"I feel like I now have an awesome opportunity to represent the industry that I love.

"Like all farming, working on an orchard can be isolating at times, but it’s awesome that competitions like this are able to bring everyone together.

"We’ve got a great grower community, and everyone has been really supportive of all of us as contestants."

Mr Coombridge said the example set by his employers, Simon and Trudi Webb, inspired him to pursue a career in horticulture.

He will represent Central Otago against six other regional finalists at the national Young Grower of the Year competition in Nelson in September.

HortNZ vice-president and director Bernadine Guilleux said the Young Grower competition was essential for supporting the next generation of talent in the industry.

"The Young Grower of the Year competition brings together the whole industry, but the most important people are our young people.

"They are our upcoming leaders and are essential to the future of horticulture."

The horticulture industry had a lot to offer as a career, she said.

"It’s a rewarding career for those who want to help feed New Zealand and the world healthy food."

"Growing fruit and vegetables has been identified as a key way for the country to meet environmental and climate adaptation goals."






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