27 August 2015
Entering the 2015 Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA) proved a thoroughly enjoyable experience for Northland farmers Ian and Sandy Page.
The Pages own Tahere Farm near Whangarei in the Pataua North district. Previously a run-down unit, the couple has spent many years developing the 162ha farm into a model of sustainability. With the whole title area under QEII National Trust covenant, BFEA judges said Tahere was like a privately owned regional park, farmed in the public interest.
“By entering an open space covenant, Ian and Sandy have invited the world to share their dreams.”
Tahere has about 62ha of indigenous forest. Another 59ha runs sheep and beef and the balance is in production forestry.
Ian, a professional forester, and Sandy, a retired physiotherapist, began planting pine trees on the steeper erosion-prone contour in 1983.
“We both had careers off-farm, so we planted it in manageable chunks of about 4-6ha a year,” says Sandy.
These trees are now providing valuable income. BFEA judges also praised the impressive riparian planting on the property, which has led to a significant improvement in water quality.
Sandy says they were “humbled” to pick up three category awards in the 2015 BFEA, including the PGG Wrightson Land and Life Award, which focuses on the all-important ‘people-side’ of the farming business.
The Pages love sharing the farm with others, so winning the PGG Wrightson award was a nice acknowledgement of their efforts to open up the farm to visitors.
“We are both very fond of the farm. Ian reckons he wants to leave here in a box.”
Sandy says they were persuaded to enter the BFEA by neighbours.
“We’ve had friends who have been involved in the competition before, so we knew a bit about it and they also recommended we enter.”
She describes their involvement in the competition as a very positive experience.
“The judging process was enjoyable, and the judges made it easy for us to talk about the farm and what we’ve been trying to achieve. As a professional forester, Ian sees it as his job to look after the land and so it was gratifying to get such great feedback from the judges. ”
Sandy says she and Ian would definitely encourage other farmers to enter the 2016 Ballance Farm Environment Awards.
“We got to meet a range of different people, and we very much enjoyed attending the field day on the Supreme-winning farm.”
The Ballance Farm Environment Awards are open to all farmers and horticulturists. Entries for the 2016 Northland BFEA close on 31 October 2015.
This year the Northland Ballance Farm Environment Awards will celebrate ten successful years at a special dinner function being held on September 24 at Barge Showgrounds Events centre, Whangarei. Past-winners and their properties will be profiled and the 2013 National Winner, Roz Mackenzie, Canterbury, will be guest speaker, fresh from a visit to China.