Twenty-six-year-old Regan Judd has taken out the title of 2022 Young Horticulturist of the Year.
Regan, an orchard sector manager at T Global in the Hawke’s Bay, represented fruit and vegetable growers across the two-day event in Karaka, Auckland this week.
The competition brings together finalists from all corners of the horticulture sector to vie for the grand title in a series of tasks designed to test their practical and theoretical skills, leadership qualities and more.
Regan says he is "stoked" to have won the grand title, particularly given the calibre of the six other finalists and the effort that went into preparing for the event.
"One of the biggest benefits for me has been the connections I’ve made and the people I’ve met though this journey," he says.
Horticulture New Zealand engagement and extension manager, Kate Longman, congratulates Regan on his success, adding that such competitions highlight the opportunities for young people in the sector.
"Horticulture is a vibrant sector with a lot to offer the younger generation," Kate says. "Varied roles and career opportunities, self-development, upskilling and the opportunity to be part of a growing sector that’s feeding the world with oranga kai - fresh, healthy food."
Regan plans to use his prize money to travel to Europe and gain insight into the overseas apples and pears market.
"I know how we grow apples in New Zealand, but I’m keen to observe the European techniques."
Regan encourages other young people to enter the Young Horticulturist Competition.
"It’s opened my eyes to the vast opportunities in our sector and has helped me gain the confidence in myself to take further leaps," Regan says. "For those looking to join our sector, there’s a wealth of opportunities for those willing to give it a nudge."
Young Horticulturist chairperson Hamish Gates says the Young Horticulturist of the Year event offers an opportunity like no other for emerging leaders to challenge themselves and refine their skills.
"The confidence finalists gain within our event sets them up to take on bigger challenges in their daily lives," he says. "We strive for one thing - to seed the future now."
The Young Horticulturist of the Year competition is in its 17 th year. The event brings together seven competing Young Horticulturist Competition sectors: Young Grower of the Year (Horticulture New Zealand Fruit & Vegetable Sectors); Young Amenity Horticulturist (New Zealand Recreation Association); Young Achiever (New Zealand Plant Producers incorporated); Young Florist/Flower Grower (FLONZI Florists and Flower Growers NZ Incorporated); Young Landscaper of the Year (Registered Master Landscapers New Zealand); and Young Viticulturist of the Year (NZ Winegrowers).The seven competitors were selected as finalists after competition placings within their own industries.