Emma Lennon

On Orchard / Packhouse Supervisor, NZ Gourmet, Roxburgh East

School: Roxburgh Area School

Training Institute: Primary Industry Training Organisation – NZ Certificate in Horticulture Level 3

Current Employment: Packhouse Supervisor, NZ Gourmet, Roxburgh East

I am 23 years old and live in Ettrick, Central Otago. I own my own home and have a passion for horses, enjoy the outdoors and embrace a challenge. I am hugely passionate about the horticultural industry and the opportunities it continues to give me.

I did my first season at the NZ Gourmet Roxburgh East site (cherries and blueberries) at the age of 18 as a summer job before heading off to Christchurch for a year to do an Equine course. I knew I didn’t want to follow the crowds to university just for the sake of it so followed my passion (horses) instead. A year later I returned to my summer job at the packhouse in Roxburgh and soon became a supervisor. After the season there I was offered the chance to transfer to the companies Hawkes Bay site for the winter season.

There I learnt about processing a variety of vegetable crops and worked with the different computer systems and technology that the company uses. This pattern continued for another year – supervising the packhouse in Roxburgh over the summer season and learning new skills in Hawkes Bay over the winter season. The company supported me through this process as I continued to learn and grow my passion for the industry.

After deciding that I would like to stay in one location for the year my full-time role at the Roxburgh site evolved to include a wide range of tasks and supervisory duties. In 2019 the company invested further by sending me to their Californian operation for 2 months. Here I learnt more about the equipment that both sites use and got to experience the large scale of the company operations. Another trip to California is planned for the end of this summer season in time for the busy period over there.

The ‘paddock to plate’ evolution is something I love to be part of. From pruning and caring for the trees to packing and sending the crops around the world I find my role hugely rewarding and like to look at the bigger picture. I get to supervise seasonal staff from all different walks of life and find I learn something from each of them. This past year I have had staff that included a doctor and lawyer from Europe and a group of Vietnamese visitors who would love to host me in their own country one day.

For the industry I would like to see the image of horticulture come up to meet the reality. Yes, it can be hard work, but the opportunities and skills learnt easily balance out the hard graft. There are so many opportunities that are basically there for the taking!