Wai­mate grower crowned

Ben Geaney from Wai­mate has emerged vic­to­ri­ous against three other en­trants to be named Cen­tral Otago’s Young Fruit Grower for 2017.

The Orchardist - - News -

The day-long com­pe­ti­tion in Cromwell saw com­peti­tors en­gage in a se­ries of prac­ti­cal chal­lenges de­signed to test the skills needed to suc­cess­fully run a thriv­ing hor­ti­cul­ture busi­ness.

Ben, 29, works on his fam­ily’s or­chard in Wai­mate. With a diploma in me­chan­i­cal en­gi­neer­ing, Ben worked in Aus­tralia be­fore re­turn­ing home to work on his fam­ily’s ap­ple or­chard. He re­ceived top marks for prun­ing; trac­tors and ma­chin­ery; and ir­ri­ga­tion, which he drew with con­tes­tant Adam Low.

Waka Paul, 27, from Park­burn Man­age­ment in Cromwell was run­ner up, win­ning the prize for best speech. Ellen Watt, from Waitaki Or­chards in the Waitaki Val­ley near Kurow, was sec­ond run­ner up.

“The com­pe­ti­tion has been a great op­por­tu­nity to test my hor­ti­cul­tural and busi­ness skills,” said Ben. “I’m ex­cited to rep­re­sent Wai­mate fruit grow­ers at the na­tional fi­nal in Au­gust.”

Ben, to­gether with three other re­gional Young Fruit Grow­ers and the win­ner of the re­cent Young Veg­etable Grower

“I’m ex­cited to rep­re­sent Wai­mate fruit grow­ers at the na­tional fi­nal in Au­gust.”

Ben Geaney

com­pe­ti­tion, will go on to com­pete for the 2017 Young Grower of the Year ti­tle in Christchurch.

The Young Grower of the Year com­pe­ti­tion is run by Hor­ti­cul­ture New Zealand and is now in its eleventh year.

HortNZ chief ex­ec­u­tive, Mike Chap­man, said Ben had a bright fu­ture ahead of him and ex­em­pli­fied the ca­pa­bil­ity of young peo­ple in to­day’s rapidly growing hor­ti­cul­tural in­dus­try.

Mr Chap­man said the aim of the com­pe­ti­tion was to foster ex­cel­lence amongst young grow­ers and fu­ture-proof the $5 bil­lion hor­ti­cul­tural in­dus­try that ex­ports 60% of to­tal pro­duc­tion to about 124 coun­tries.

Ben’s prize in­cludes a pro­fes­sional de­vel­op­ment tour to a growing re­gion of their choice to learn about its hor­ti­cul­ture in­dus­try, spon­sored by the Fruit­grow­ers’ Char­i­ta­ble Trust, a cash prize of $1,500 and an all-expenses paid trip to com­pete for the na­tional 2017 Young Grower of the Year ti­tle in Au­gust.

Photo credit: Jo Boyd, River­lea Pho­tog­ra­phy.

From left: Win­ner Ben Geaney earns his ti­tle. L-R: Waka Paul, Adam Low, Ellen Watt and Ben Geaney.

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