You are not permitted to download, save or email this image. Visit image gallery to purchase the image.
He is a very happy man, made even happier by his first-equal placing in the Young Vegetable Grower of the Year competition held recently in Christchurch.
It was a joint win with Auckland grower Gurjant Singh.
Lincoln Roper (18), of Roper and Son, near Lincoln, was runner-up.
It was the first time in the competition's history there had been two winners.
Originally from Chile, Esteban (30) came to New Zealand with a bachelor's degree in agriscience and spent time working in the industry in Horowhenua before heading south.
He is the production agronomist for Leaderbrand South Island, based near Chertsey, just north of Ashburton. He lives in Rolleston with his wife, Yasna, also an agronomist.
Among his responsibilities, Esteban oversees the planting, sowing schedules and pest/disease control at the 400ha property.
They grow seven main crops: broccoli, lettuce, cauliflower, cabbage and (seasonally) asparagus, squash and pumpkin. They also grow peas, barley, bunching onions, lucerne and grass crops for seed and cover.
Esteban loves it. He has the support of management and works with a friendly crew.
His degree and his experience mean he knows a lot about growing vegetables.
He entered the competition with the encouragement of his boss, Leaderbrand South Island's Mike Arnold.
Preparing for the competition lifted Esteban out of his comfort zone as he created a marketing plan for broccoflower (a broccoli/cauliflower cross) and gave impromptu speeches to his workmates during breaks for practice.
But the win came as a total surprise.
''I was nervous to begin, but as the day progressed I got more and more confident. The other contestants were great, hard-working and motivated, and it's been great to compete beside them.''
Esteban saw the win as a chance to network with other people in the industry.
The other joint winner, Gurjant, came from a farming background in Punjab, India. He moved to New Zealand and studied horticulture at Manukau Institute of Technology. He is an assistant grower at T&G (Turners & Growers) in Favona, Auckland.
The men will compete in the Young Grower of the Year 2018 title in Napier on August 21 and 22.
Esteban said he knew why they did things in the industry, but planned to learn more about how to do things to help win the final, such as more forklift practice.
The day-long competition in Christchurch put five entrants through a series of practical and theoretical challenges designed to test the skills needed to run a successful vegetable growing business. It covered pest identification through to forklift proficiency, and included creating a marketing plan and giving a three-minute speech on bridging the urban/rural divide.
-By Toni Williams