10 September 2015
Pictured Mark Ball, Chairman, Auckland Ballance Farm Environment Awards**
Entries have opened for the 2016 Auckland Ballance Farm Environment Awards and organisers have high hopes the region’s first year in the prestigious competition will be a huge success.
Mark Ball, newly appointed chairman of the Auckland Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA), says all farmers, including orchardists, vegetable growers and viticulturists, are eligible to enter.
He says the competition enables entrants to benchmark themselves against their peers and receive valuable advice from expert judges on how to improve the sustainability of their operations.
“This is also an outstanding opportunity for farmers and growers to show urban Aucklanders and the city’s decision makers what’s happening on farms and orchards in the region. The competition will raise awareness of the great agricultural, horticultural and viticultural industry on the city’s doorstep, and show that the people involved in these businesses are striving to achieve best environmental practice by producing food in the most sustainable way possible.”
Facilitated by the New Zealand Farm Environment (NZFE) Trust and held in 11 regions throughout the country, the awards promote best-practice land management by showcasing the work of people farming in a way that is environmentally, economically and socially sustainable.
Mr Ball says most people enter because they want high quality feedback on how their farming operation stacks up in terms of environmental and economic sustainability.
It costs nothing to enter, and the competition offers excellent educational opportunities for any farmer wanting to learn more about how to improve business profitability and environmental management.
Wellsford farmer and Auckland BFEA management committee member Ken Hames describes participating in the competition as a “highly worthwhile experience”.
A former entrant in the Northland Ballance Farm Environment Awards, Mr Hames says everyone in the agricultural or horticultural sectors should consider entering, even if they feel their farm or orchard is not ready.
“You are never going to have the perfect farm. It’s always a work in progress.”
Mr Hames says the feedback from the judges is fantastic “and it’s a great experience meeting the other contestants and learning from them as well”.
Mark Ball says the awards cover a wide range of categories, so entrants who are performing well in one specific area have a chance of picking up a category award.
“Even if you don’t win an award, you still get the benefits of having your business reviewed in a productive way that will help you to improve in future.”
Entering the competition is as easy as filling out a simple form, available online at www.bfea.org.nz
Judging is conducted in a relaxed and friendly manner, and judges always take climatic factors into account.
Supreme winners from each region are honoured at NZFE Trust’s annual Sustainability Showcase, where the prestigious Gordon Stephenson trophy is presented to a National Winner.
Entries for the Auckland BFEA close on October 30, 2015. The competition is supported by Auckland Council.
More information on the 2016 Ballance Farm Environment Awards is available on the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust website.