A young Chilliwack woman earned international recognition last week in the field of horticulture.
Stephanie Berkhout, 28, of Qualitree Propagators Inc. in Rosedale won the 2020 Young Grower of the Year award during AmericanHort’s virtual Cultivate20 seminar on July 14.
Berkhout said she was “mega stoked” to bring this award in for Canada and for Qualitree, a Chilliwack-based wholesale propagation and nursery operation that ships plants across North America.
The GrowerTalks/Nexus Young Grower Award is presented to worthy candidates that demonstrate passion, creativity, leadership and a desire to excel. The award is presented annually at the premier horticulture trade show, Cultivate, in Columbus, Ohio. This year Cultivate20 was held virtually, including the announcement of the award winner.
Berkhout was announced as one the three finalists back in March.
The essay question in applying for the award was: What do you think will be the long-term impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on your business, your customers and your community?
Part of Berkhout’s response was: “Given that we live in such a rural area, it didn’t come as a surprise to notice that once folks started isolating, many in our communities turned to the garden centres. Not just the die-hard gardeners, but even those newer to plant hobbies; people who decided to trade in some Netflix episodes for hands-in-dirt time.
“I’m cautiously optimistic for the horticulture industry post COVID-19. I’m encouraged by the many homeowners returning to the garden, patio or finding joy in plants in their home. I’m reassured by the fortitude of my neighbours, suppliers, customers and colleagues.”
Berkhout joined Qualitree while working towards a Horticulture Science Degree at University of the Fraser Valley. She provides direction and leads her team of growers on irrigation and fertigation decisions, weed management, creation of tasks, quality control of operations, soil sampling, water sampling, and cleanliness.
“Stephanie leads by example. Her engaging, positive attitude is infectious; she inspires her team and others in the company,” reads the press release from Qualitree. “Stephanie is a natural integrator – she includes everyone, and sees value in everyone. She believes in developing people, and acts on this – many of our team members are living proof.”
“I could not have achieved this without steadfast support from all the amazing colleagues at work, very patient friends, my wonderful quirky family and of course my incredibly caring, resilient husband,” Berkhout said.