Pro Primary

HB Young Fruit Grower of the Year Makes History

Ask Hawke’s Bay Young Fruit Grower of the Year Lisa Arnold what the future holds for both her and the region and the first word that springs to mind is – Wairoa!

At 27 years old, Lisa is about to invest in her own small plot of land to build “tiny” houses in a district, which she sees as being on the cusp of exciting opportunity and growth.

“For horticulture there’s so much untapped potential in Wairoa, it has great soil, weather and access by road and rail is improving, locals are friendly and there’s available land with affordable housing, not to mention the weather and being close to the beach!

“Growing up in Gisborne and now living in Napier, it’s a perfect spot to realise my longerterm vision. Wairoa’s on the move, it’s going to be the place to be.” Lisa, an orchard operations assistant with Bostock New Zealand, created history in July as the first woman to win the prestigious and strongly contested local title.

Up against seven other finalists(including five who were EIT graduates) and a record number of entrants representing the growing number of rising stars in Hawke’s Bay horticulture, Lisa says it’s a privilege to represent women and organic growers.

It was also a strong showing by Mr Apple NZ work colleagues, foremen Tom Dalziel and Anthony Tuaeki who placed runner up and third respectfully, along with Anthony winning the speech competition. Anthony says the competition stepped up a notch this year.

“It’s fantastic to compete with young growers who enjoy a challenge, believe in our industry and what we are achieving, while showing our industry is not just a picking bucket and a ladder – everyone gave it their best. “Lisa is a great young grower, she put up a strong performance and came out on top – well deserved.”

This week Lisa will compete in The Young Grower of the Year finals, along with other regional winners up and Young Vegetable Grower of the Year winners in Napier. When Lisa entered for the second time, having come fourth last year, she wanted to better her result and knew the areas she need to work on. Her homework paid off as did her decision to enroll with Toast Masters.

“One of the greatest personal benefits is the competition hasbrought me out of my shell, I’ve learned that to grow in this job you needed get out and meet people. “I love the diversity, networking, making connections with different cultures and it’s good to see more women entering the industry.”

Lisa’s “green thumb” comes from her family’s lifelong dedication for growing organics. So on graduating with Bachelor of Science she set her sights on working in the field where she could build a career and follow her dream. Today one of her specialist areas is compliance and she’s passionate about sustainability including reducing and recycling plastic use on orchards.

She’s also managing the Bostock NZ Karamu Stream restoration project, which she would like to help encourage others to follow. But it’s bees that are her favourite pastime, having launched a small business Helia Bees a year ago, she’s managing 30 hives organically which are placed on Bostock orchards. “I like to be busy, keep active and focus on meaningful work”.

Mr Apple’s HR Manager Rachelle Hayes says with three finalists, the Mr Apple Horticultural Apprenticeship program is thriving as the company continues to invest in the future.

“We do this to help meet the growing demand for skilled staff within the orchard industry in Hawke’s Bay. All full time students will have permanent jobs which will continue after their training has finished. Graduates have the opportunity to take promotions throughout the business and also to undertake further study such as leadership and personal development courses or further study at diploma level.

Training includes both on the job and in class learning and includes working in various parts of the business including Packhouse and Coolstore operations. Topics cover all aspects of Orchard Work, including planting, pruning, pest and disease control, tractor driving, harvest management and staff supervision.

“The qualifications and experience gained during this training is extremely beneficial to both the employees and the company. Employees are our most valuable asset and we pride ourselves in our ability to grow and train people to be the best they can be,” says Rachelle.

Hawke’s Bay Fruitgrowers’ Association president Lesley Wilson says the competition continues to show the quality of young people entering the horticulture industry. “Lisa has a bright future ahead of her, and shows that there is an influx of clever young people into growing”.