Search for sustainable farmers

Catherine & John Ford

Search for sustainable farmers

Monday 21 Sep, 2015;  By Elaine Fisher

Farmers and orchardists have until October 16, to enter The Ballance Farm Environment Awards which show case the best in sustainable land management.

Bay of Plenty awards judging co-ordinator Margaret Wright also urges anyone who knows a farmer or orchardist with a strong focus on environmental sustainability, to encourage them to enter.

“Sometimes people need a little prodding because they think their property is not ready. The truth is in farming and orcharding, there is always something more to do so there’s no perfect time to enter but all those who do gain a lot from the experience,” she says.

“Being part of the awards is a stimulating, informative and enjoyable opportunity to benchmark your farm and meet with other like-minded farmers in your region.”

Last year’s national supreme winners, Rotorua sheep and beef farmers John and Catherine Ford are from the Bay of Plenty.

The Fords own 1240ha Highlands Station – a large hill-country farm, south of Rotorua which within the Lake Tarawera and Rotokakahi catchment.

In their feedback report, BFEA judges noted the Ford’s “strong family history of commitment to agriculture”.

The well-maintained farm has a “much loved feel”, they said, and its outstanding meat and wool production puts the property among New Zealand’s leading sheep and beef farming operations.

A focus on protecting marginal areas of their farm while lifting productivity of grazeable land helped Katikati farmers Rick Burke and Jan Loney take out the Supreme title in the 2014 Bay of Plenty Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

Rick and Jan, who farm 350ha Pukekauri Farms in the foothills of the Kaimai Ranges, also picked up a string of category awards at a special Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA) ceremony earlier this year.

BFEA judges praised the couple’s teamwork and excellent people skills, noting the outstanding plantings on riparian areas and marginal land that “look stunning and greatly enhance biodiversity”.

For the purposes of the awards “farm” includes agriculture, viticulture and horticulture properties within the boundaries of the Bay of Plenty Regional Council.

Bay of Plenty entries close on Friday October 16, 2015. First round judging will take place in November with finalist judging in early December. An awards dinner will be held in Tauranga late February 2016 to announce the winners.

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