Hor­ti­cul­tur­ist cel­e­brat­ing re­sult

Matamata Chronicle - - Rural Delivery - By NICKI DAVIDSON

Leigh Har­ri­son has plenty to cel­e­brate af­ter the re­cent Young Hor­ti­cul­tur­ist of the Year grand fi­nal in Auck­land.

The 26-year-old for­mer Mata­mata woman not only took out the best prac­tice award but a prod­uct she had to in­vent prior to the fi­nal came sec­ond equal.

‘‘I won $500 cash for the best prac­tice award and $2000 for my prod­uct, a new type of prun­ing saw,’’ Miss Har­ri­son said.

‘‘ The judges told me I should patent it as soon as pos­si­ble which was awe­some.’’

Join­ing seven other sec­tional win­ners in­clud­ing flori­cul­ture, ar­bori­cul­ture, land­scap­ing, nurs­ery and gar­den, wine­grow­ing, fruit, and veg­etable, Leigh qual­i­fied for the fi­nal af­ter win­ning the Young Amenity Hor­ti­cul­tur­ist of the Year ti­tle in Au­gust.

Day one of the com­pe­ti­tion in­cluded 10-minute pre­sen­ta­tions about their prod­ucts, a Q and A ses­sion with the judges, then a half hour in­ter­view about global trends and where the in­dus­try was go­ing in the fu­ture.

‘‘ They also asked me what I want to do in the next five years. It was just like a job in­ter­view only trick­ier,’’ she said.Day two of the fi­nal com­prised com- puter ex­er­cises, trailer back­ing, soil and fer­tiliser ques­tions, first aid ques­tions, ir­ri­ga­tion prob­lems, pests and dis­eases, hu­man re­sources sce­nar­ios and plant­ing.

‘‘It was very, very full on. We only had a minute be­tween tasks so it was quite hec­tic and chal­leng­ing.’’

Then came the for­mal din­ner and speeches in front of 250 peo­ple, topic pro­vided. ‘‘ I had to give a speech on how I would spend a $30m govern­ment in­jec­tion into my sec­tor to cre­ate a net profit for the New Zealand econ­omy,’’ Miss Har­ri­son said.

‘‘ I got sec­ond for the speech part which I was re­ally happy about be­cause it was hard, the amenity sec­tor doesn’t ac­tu­ally cre­ate a profit!’’

Miss Har­ri­son fin­ished fourth over­all and said tak­ing part in the compe- tition was re­ally worth­while. ‘‘It has meant mas­sive growth for my­self and in­creased my own po­ten­tial. I got so much out of it, it re­ally chal­lenged and pushed me, es­pe­cially com­ing up with the prod­uct and see­ing the idea come to fruition.’’

Hor­ti­cul­tur­ist: Leigh Har­ri­son has plenty to smile about af­ter her ef­forts at the Young Hor­ti­cul­tur­ist of the Year grand fi­nal.

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