29 May 2023, NZ: Gregoire (Greg) Durant of Cherri Global in Clyde, 28, won the 2023 Central Otago Young Grower of the Year regional final at the event held in Bannockburn on Friday 26 May.
The annual competition attracted five entrants and covering modules such as irrigation, first aid, tractor and machinery work, pest and disease, spraying and weed management as well as biosecurity.
Organiser Mariette Morkel, of Horticentre, says the wind and rain was a bit of hassle on the day, and made setting up the course challenging. ‘But it was great to see some new contestants entering this year, and we’re stoked with how it all went.’
Originally from France, Greg was a young backpacker when he first came to New Zealand, picking fruit in the Teviot Valley. He then moved to Clyde to work for Cherri Global, where today he works as their Clyde-Roxburgh sector manager, overseeing a 50ha block of cherries, in a role he has been in since 2017.
‘I put in a lot of study in the lead up to the competition, because you just don’t know what you’re going to get. Having a strong mathematics background really helped me in the irrigation section.’
Greg says that he entered the competition again this year because he really enjoyed the experience last year.
‘It was fun. The competition was different this year with different questions. I learnt a lot about myself, and I met plenty of people I wouldn’t have spoken to otherwise.’
The competition speech was the most challenging aspect of the event for Greg, having won six out of the seven technical modules earlier the day.
In his acceptance speech, Greg thanked everyone involved in the competition.
‘Thank you to everyone involved. Support for young people in the industry is great and I hope that this support will continue next year and every year after.’
Kris Robb, Chair of the Central Otago Growers’ Association (COGA), says he’s proud of all the contestants for putting themselves forward.
‘I’m also appreciative of all the work that took place in the background to this significant industry event. COGA is passionate about this young grower event and is encouraged by the talent coming up through the Central Otago region.’
Greg will complete at the national Young Grower of the Year final in Pukekohe on 4-5 October. He will be competing against five other regional finalists and says he hopes to gain a lot from competing in the national final.
The next 2023 Young Grower of the Year regional final will be held on Nelson on 7 July.
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