Orchardist comes second in nationals
Jos Bell has kept the Nelson flag flying high by winning this year's Young Fruit Grower of the Year title, and coming second in the Young Grower of the Year competition.
The 27-year-old, who works for Hoddy's Orchard in Hope, emulated his colleague, Kevin Withington, who won the title last year.
Like Mr Withington, Mr Bell finished second in the Young Grower of the Year competition, which this year was won by Andrew Scott, of Canterbury. It was held in Auckland last week as part of Horticulture New Zealand's annual conference.
Mr Bell was happy with his effort, which netted him $2000 in prize money - $1500 for the national fruit grower title and $500 for winning the leadership panel part of the competition.
The two days of practical and business skill challenges, which ended with a speech before 400 delegates at the conference, was a "big step up" from the regional competition he won last month, he said.
"Overall, it was a really well-run event and a great experience."
The toughest part was taking part in the press conference-style panel and making his speech in front of so many people, but it was good to get "out of my comfort zone and push myself".
It had given him a confidence boost to pursue a long-term career in horticulture, probably in either quality assurance or management.
Mr Bell said rather than taking another tilt at the top title, he planned to do a national diploma in horticulture or agribusiness management next year while continuing his orchard work.
Horticulture New Zealand president Andrew Fenton said Mr Scott, who won awards for the best practical, best business skills and best innovation project, was a strong competitor.
"He showed agility, confidence and had a real business and technical sense of the horticulture industry."
The 29-year-old won $4000 and a trip to Australia to visit other vegetable crop growers.