Despite growing up on an orchard, Elliot Easton was always looking past the apple trees to the world beyond. His love of travel has taken him around the globe, and he’s found a way to combine his love of exploring the world into a career in the New Zealand apple industry.
'The apple and pear industry is a brilliant career option, I’d recommend it to anyone who loves being outdoors, loves working with people, loves to travel and gets excited about the science of nature.'
While managing staff is a large part of his job, Elliot says his role is varied and diverse, with the seasons bringing different challenges and tasks. And the industry is always evolving too, with new technology bringing different ways to grow apples.
'You need to be dynamic in your thinking and your ability to deal with issues. Horticulture is fluid and things change fast. Problems present themselves all the time so you’ve got to come up with solutions.
'We’re redeveloping the orchard so there’s a lot of planning work that’s going into that, as well as improving our processes and the way we present information to our staff.
Elliot started out as a teenager, working harvests, and once he finished school he spent summers in Nelson working on the orchard thinning and harvesting, then headed off overseas for the rest of the year.
More recently Elliot decided it was time to settle down into a career job. Working in his family’s orchard business, Easton’s, was a natural choice, and Operations Manager was a perfect position for him. It means he can combine a challenging and rewarding role with his love of travel.
'I’ve been to Washington State to learn about their planting systems and get ideas to implement on our orchards. The scale of what they produce over there is pretty mind blowing.
What I discovered is that New Zealand apple growers are as good as anyone else in the world - or even better. We operate differently due to our climate and geography, and we might not have the largest orchards but I truly believe we grow the best apples in the world.'
Elliot has also travelled to the Pacific Islands, home to many of the temporary workers he employs on his orchard to help with the harvest as well as general orchard maintenance year-round. These workers are part of the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme.
Check out the careers pathway for pipfruit industry workers.Download careers pathway (PDF 940KB)