Melissa van den Heuvel has won the Young Grower of the Year 2021.
Heuvel is an avocado grower services representative at Apata Group Ltd, based in the Bay of Plenty.
"I am very proud to be in this industry. It is something I am very passionate about and what we produce is top-notch," she said.
"It was great to be part of this competition and get to know my fellow competitors. We'd all like to thank the sponsors and HortNZ for giving us this opportunity."
HortNZ president, Barry O'Neil explained that supporting young people and encouraging more of them to the industry was critical to its continued success and growth in the new world with COVID.
"At times like these, having a cause and taking time out to celebrate it is even more important than it was before.
"This year's regional finals were oversubscribed, which shows the inherent optimism in our industry as well as the pride inherent in providing New Zealand and the world with tasty and healthy, fruit and vegetables."
The national final was held at the Lower Hutt Events on 20 and 21 October.
The Young Grower of the Year, hosted by Horticulture New Zealand, is an annual competition comprised of regional finals in major fruit and vegetable growing areas, followed by a national final.
The competition encourages young people to take up a career in horticulture as well as celebrate the success of young people in the industry.
This year's Young Grower of the Year finalists were:
- Heather Feetham, Pukekohe
- Jamie McIntyre, Gisborne
- Melissa van den Heuvel, Bay of Plenty (2020, but rest of competition cancelled due to Covid)
- Bryce Morrison, Bay of Plenty (2021)
- Regan Judd, Hawkes Bay
- Jonathan Bates, Nelson
- Jordan Carroll, Central Otago.