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Entries open soon for award

Tuesday 28 September 2004

Entries open soon for award that highlights the “way of the future” for farming

A rural environment award, which highlights the “way of the future” for New Zealand farming, opens for entries in the Bay of Plenty on Monday 4 October.

Now in its third year, the Bay of Plenty Ballance Farm Environment Awards promotes sustainable farming practice as practical, achievable and profitable. “Eventually, all New Zealand will embrace this philosophy - it just makes good business sense,” says regional judging coordinator Ian Pirani.

Mr Pirani, a Katikati farmer, hopes the rural community will support the awards again this year. He urges farmers and orchardists to enter – even if they feel they are not quite ready. “It’s a fantastic experience and entrants tell us they always learn a lot from it. It’s a great forum for discussion and they really appreciate the professional feedback they get from judges.”

Coordinated regionally by Environment Bay of Plenty, the awards showcase the work people are doing around the region. They can then become role models that others will follow.

Laurie and Joy Shearer, farmers from Te Puke, won the supreme award last year. In the event’s first year, overall winners were Geoff and Gill Brann, who have a 245ha agroforestry property near Paengaroa.

The New Zealand Farm Environment Trust, which co-ordinates the awards nationally, believes the event has matured a great deal over the past few years, gaining ever widening support from environmentally aware organisations, government and regional authorities, industries, service and goods providers and of course, the people on the land.

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“As the awards have grown over the past three years, the level of understanding of good environmental practices has also developed,” says Trust chairman Bill Garland.

“Education and learning have always been important objectives of the awards and each year, we’re seeing improvements in farmers’ approach to methods which protect and improve the environment.”

And each year, those people judged to be winners in the awards go on to become role models for their peers, sharing what they have learned by adopting sustainable practices in approaching their financial, ecological, social and cultural operations, Mr Garland says.

“The key to the growth and acceptance of these awards is that farmers are adopting environmentally sound ways of doing things because they have found that it works. They do it because they want to, not because they’re told to. And they do it because it’s good business.”

“People who enter these awards aren’t necessarily doing everything right. They may just be starting out on the road to environmentally sustainable practice. But through the judging and feedback process; through meeting people with like ideals and maybe more experience and gaining new ideas they benefit from being involved with the Ballance Farm Environment Awards,” Mr Garland says.

Principal sponsor Ballance Agri-Nutrients is joined in supporting the Farm Environment Awards by ANZ Bank, Richmonds, Livestock Improvement Corporation, Gallagher Group and Hill Laboratories.

Ballance Farm Environment Awards programmes are held in Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Manawatu/Wanganui, Wellington, Canterbury, Otago and Southland.

Entries for the Bay of Plenty awards close on Friday 5 November. To enter or for more information, contact Sheree Phillips at Environment Bay of Plenty on 0800 ENV BOP (368 267) or email sheree@envbop.govt.nz or go to www.envbop.govt.nz.


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