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The International Fruit Tree Association presented its Grower of the Year award during the annual study tour and conference in New Zealand.

Richard Hoddy accepts the IFTA Grower of the Year award from Tim Welsh during the 2018 New Zealand tour. <b>(Courtesy Karen Lewis)</b>

Richard Hoddy accepts the IFTA Grower of the Year award from Tim Welsh during the 2018 New Zealand tour. (Courtesy Karen Lewis)

Richard Hoddy and family of Vailima Orchards received the honor, recognizing their company’s willingness to take risks and test innovations in their orchards.

The Hoddy family established orchards in the Nelson area of New Zealand shortly after Richard’s grandfather emigrated from England in 1914.

Today, Richard continues to grow the orchards on the Waimea Plains with his two sons, Tristram and Matthew, and, along with grower David Easton, is majority owner of Heartland Fruit.

“Being an early adopter is synonymous with risk taking, but the way in which this person undertakes it is through very thoughtful consideration,” IFTA board member Tim Welsh said in introducing the awardee during a stop to his farm in March. “I know what that looks like by knowing this person, and by seeing his operation, I just don’t quite understand how he does it; my gut tells me he and the family have developed this astute ability to understand how to execute everything Richard brings to the farm.”

At the earlier IFTA conference in Hawkes Bay, the 2018 Industry Service awards went to Craig Hornblow, a horticultural consultant for AgFirst, and to the apple and pear breeding team at Plant and Food Research New Zealand. Read more about these two award winners in our previous post.

– by Shannon Dininny