Summers working on orchards have proved to be a winning move for Jordan Carrol.

The CentralPac orchard manager and harvest manager was named 2021 Central Young Grower of the Year on Friday night.

Organised by Horticulture NZ, the Young Grower competition tests fruit and vegetable growers in their industry skills.

Seven competitors from throughout Central Otago took part in a series of challenges at the Otago Polytechnic Central Campus designed to test their knowledge and skills. These included tractor driving, first aid, irrigation, pest and diseases and a hortisports challenge as well as presenting a speech at the awards dinner.

Mr Carrol worked in orchards during school and university holidays before realising horticulture was the industry for him.

He started as a trainee and worked his way up to orchard manager.

The horticulture industry was important and needed more people to step up, Mr Carrol said.

“We need all the people we can to make the most of the horticulture industry.

“The world needs more and more food.”

“Growing requires so much commitment and you have to be there.”

But the feeling is also just so insanely satisfying,” he said.

Previous Central Otago Young Grower winner Ellen Watt said winning the regional title in 2019 had a positive impact on her, both professionally and personally.

“It was certainly a good challenge, sort of continuing to grow as a person and professionally,” she said.

“It’s a great industry to be a part of, there’s a huge variety in jobs when you get past that first picking and pruning stage.”

2021 Central Otago Young Grower of the Year winner Jordan Carrol (centre) with 2019 winner Ellen Watt and Horticulture NZ president Barry O’Neill

Horticulture NZ president and chairman Barry O’Neill said for some young people the competition was the start of getting into the managerial side of the industry.

“Young people are the future of the industry,” he said.

“We also need to celebrate horticulture. We’ve had some tough times lately with the labour situation, with weather not always being kind to us, supply chain logistics being disrupted etc, so it’s actually quite nice to come together as a growing community and celebrate for a change.”

Jordan Carrol will represent Central Otago at the national final of the 2021 Young Grower of the Year in Wellington, September 22 to 23.