Nelson’s Jono Sutton, 26, was announced as this year’s Young Grower of the Year at the awards dinner in Tauranga last night.
“This is one of horticulture’s highest achievements for a young person, so winning it is massive,” said Jono.
“Some of the past winners have gone on to do amazing things in horticulture, so to have my name next to theirs is overwhelming.”
HortNZ Chief Executive Mike Chapman said the Young Grower of the Year is important because it highlights horticulture as a vibrant career for young people.
“Our $6 billion industry continues to grow in response to worldwide and domestic demand for fresh healthy food. At the same time, our industry is responding to new requirements, particularly in the areas of freshwater, land use, food safety, and health and safety.
“These areas offer young people many and varied career opportunities. I am positive that all entrants in 2019’s Young Grower competition have benefited from the experience and will continue to grow and support horticulture.”
Jono proved his impressive skills and knowledge throughout the competition. As the regional Nelson finalist, he was up against six other contestants, from around New Zealand, in Tauranga this week.
Jono’s grandparents, who are berry and apple growers in Nelson, came to support him.
“It’s really great to have really genuine support where win or lose, they think you’re the best anyway,” says Jono.
“They’ve been in the industry since the 80s, when they transferred from agriculture to horticulture with the help of my father. For them to be able to pass the baton on to me is a real blessing.”
The annual Young Grower of the Year competition is run by Horticulture New Zealand and supported by platinum sponsor, the Horticentre Charitable Trust.