Lydia O’Dowd named Young Plant Producer of the Year

Lydia O’Dowd named Young Plant Producer of the Year

The future of New Zealand's $500 million plant production industry shines brighter than ever with the rise of young talent like Lydia O’Dowd. Hailing from the Southern Woods Nursery in Rolleston, Lydia has been crowned the 2023 Young Plant Producer of the Year, impressing the audience at an awards dinner in Christchurch.

The Young Plant Producer event, organized by NZ Plant Producers (NZPPI) and hosted by the prestigious IPPS (International Plant Propagators’ Society), pits five finalists against each other in a thrilling competition.

Supported by the Horticulture Charitable Trust and held at Lincoln University, these talented contestants were tested on various aspects of plant production, from finance and dispatch to biosecurity, plant propagation, and identification. The judges sought more than just technical skills; they looked for industry game-changers with leadership, positive attitude, and personality.

Lydia O'Dowd, the Head Propagator at Southern Woods Nursery, demonstrated unparalleled passion for sustainability and finding natural alternatives to agrichemicals. Armed with Certificates in NZ Horticulture in Nursery Production Levels 3 & 4, she aspires to complete a Diploma in Primary Industry Business Management.

Ecstatic with her victory, O'Dowd expressed her eagerness to learn and connect with like-minded horticulture enthusiasts. 

“I look forward to gaining more knowledge and meeting others who are driven and passionate about hort!”, she said.

Her success in the Young Plant Producer of the Year competition also comes with a 12-month mentorship program and a $4000 fund to boost her career in plant production. 

Not resting on her laurels, O'Dowd is gearing up to compete in the Young Horticulturalist of the Year award, aiming to win a prize pool worth over $20,000.

Lydia O’Dowd named Young Plant Producer of the Year From left to right: Cam Hay, Lydia O'Dowd, Jake Linklater, Ellen Ballantine & August von Rieche

Ellen Ballantine from Enza Zaden, Auckland; Cameron Hay from Ardmore Nurseries, Cleveland; August Von Reiche from Helius Therapeutics, Auckland; and Jake Linklater from Nova Natives, Christchurch, were the runners-up of this year's competition.