Waikari deer and sheep farmers Lyndon and Millie Matthews, who won the Environment Canterbury Water Quality Award at the 2017 regional Ballance Farm Environment Awards

Entries wanted for farm environment awards

by Kent Caddick

Selwyn farmers and growers are being encouraged to enter the 2018–19 Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

The awards are organised by the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust, a charity set up to promote sustainable farming and growing.

The chair of the trust is Joanne van Polanen, who farms in Mid Canterbury.

“There’s a lot of discussion about the need for the primary sector to tell our stories, the awards provide an opportunity for farmers and growers to share the positive actions they are involved in with their local community and a wider audience.”Mrs van Polanen said.

The trust’s national judging coordinator, Andrea Hanna, said all farmers and growers, including orchardists, vegetable growers and viticulturists are eligible to enter.

“Each entrant is visited by a small group of rural professionals who identify opportunities to improve the financial and environmental sustainability of the farm business. It’s not just targeted at top farmers. The awards are an important opportunity to grow and learn from others.” Mrs Hanna said the judging teams have a wide range of skills and look at all parts of the farming business.

“Judging is conducted in a relaxed and friendly manner, and climatic factors are taken into account.

“In the past, we’ve found farmers can be reluctant to enter if their farm has been affected by unseasonal weather or some other event.

“But the judges understand that unexpected challenges are part of farming and will look beyond this at the wider picture.”

Hanna says that many past entrants say their involvement has helped their personal development because they get to meet and be inspired by a range of like-minded people.

Entering the awards is free and takes two minutes by completing a simple form, available online at bfea.org.nz.

People are able to nominate another farming or growing business they feel would benefit from involvement in the awards programme. Entries to the Ballance Farm Environment Awards close at the end of October. The entrants and award winners are showcased in regional functions held throughout the country in Autumn 2019.