Growing is part of Bernadine’s identity. She comes from a line of growers, from her great grandfather who set up his farm on Pukekohe Hill after returning from WW1, to her father and his brothers for whom she works and are growers in the area.
Currently marketing manager for Balle Bros, she said, “It’s a really exciting opportunity to be at the forefront of issues affecting our industry.” Bernadine has studied nationally and internationally and has a large skillset which she’ll be bringing to the board and the grower base.
“I would like to see the Horticulture industry embrace consumer’s desire to know where their food comes from and use it to educate people on just what is involved in getting locally grown, fresh fruit and vegetables to their homes every day,” she said.
It’s good news for local growers to have local representation. “As a board member I will take the responsibility of representing all growers across the country very seriously. But like everyone around the table, my specific knowledge of vegetable growing, and local networks will naturally bring issues specific to our area and vegetable growing to the table first hand,” Bernadine said.
The new role is something Bernadine has looked forward to. “I’ve always been passionate about the crossover between market forces and policy since my time spent studying marketing at a political university. As growers, Horticulture New Zealand is our direct link into central government, so I embraced the opportunity to vie for a place at the board table.” She said she enjoys the realness of the industry and the people who do it so well.
Horticulture New Zealand’s President Julian Raine said Bernadine will bring a new perspective to the board. “The Board’s goal is that its membership embraces the diversity of Horticulture New Zealand’s grower members.” Horticulture New Zealand represents more than 5000 commercial fruit and vegetable growers who employ about 60,000 people, making a significant contribution to New Zealand’s economy.
Working in the vegetable industry is not just something Bernadine loves, she also loves eating vegetables too. “I love all vegetables, they offer so much goodness. ” She said two veggies spring to mind, the first is fennel for the unique, delicate taste. “But if there is one that I couldn’t imagine life without, it would be the Ohakune carrot—sweet, crisp and perfect any time of the day.”
Bernadine joins re-elected kiwifruit grower Mike Smith from Welcome Bay, Tauranga. Directors are elected for a three-year term. Their term will start in July 2018.