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Community Activities and Bass Guitar Balance Busy Farming Lives

29 October 2012

Community Activities and Bass Guitar Balance Busy Farming Lives

Southland farmer Euan Templeton is not a big TV watcher.

As well as running a 545ha sheep and beef farm at Waimatuku, east of Riverton, Euan and wife Linda are involved in a host of off-farm activities that “keep us young”.

Music and gardening are key hobbies for the couple. Euan is captain of the local Boys Brigade company, a church elder and a member of the Lions Club. He also sings in the Southern Sounds Barber Shop Chorus and plays bass in a rock band.

All this makes for a busy life, but Euan reckons they have achieved a fairly good balance between the demands of their coastal farm and their off-farm interests.

The judges in the 2012 Ballance Farm Environment Awards obviously thought so too, awarding the Templetons the PGG Wrightson Land and Life Award.

This award focuses on the all-important ‘people side of farming’, with pride and passion for the land being a key consideration. Community spirit and a good relationship with external agribusiness people are other factors, and intergenerational thinking and planning is often a feature.

Euan says he learnt the importance of community involvement from his parents, who were also active participants in the community.

And his father always emphasised the importance of off-farm interests.

“Dad used to say that the days were for farming and the nights were for your hobbies and your community.”

The farm is still a very important part of the Templetons’ lives. They have strong emotional ties to the property which has been in the Templeton family since 1911. Euan and Linda have farmed it since 1982 and have continued the good work started by Euan’s forebears.

Though the farm’s light, sandy soils can be a challenge to manage, the family has acquired considerable knowledge on how to maintain soil fertility while reducing the risk of nutrient and topsoil loss.

“We had some disasters in the early years, but Dad was very keen to get away from ploughing and into minimum soil tillage. He also realised the importance of good shelter.”

Euan is a member of two farm discussion groups and he and Linda employ farm consultant Ivan Lines to assist with farm management decisions.

“Ivan has given us very good advice over the years and he was a big help schooling us up when we entered the Farm Environment Awards.”

Ivan has been involved with a number of Award entrants, including Euan’s brother and sister-in-law, Vaughan and Megan, who won the Supreme Award for Southland in 2009.

Euan says preparing for the Ballance Farm Environment Awards was a very useful exercise because it made him and Linda think about what they had achieved over the years and what they wanted to achieve in future.

He admits some arm-twisting was required to get them to enter the awards, but they are very glad they did.

“The judging process was painless and the judges were very constructive in their comments. It was a very positive process and we were delighted to be part of it.”

Euan says every farmer should enter the competition because of the knowledge they can gain from it.

“A sheep and beef farm is always a work-in-progress and you never feel the farm is quite ready, but I think most farmers can present a very positive picture of their farm, even if they are only at the halfway stage.

“And there are many other farmers out there with better presented farms and better figures than we have, so I would really encourage others to give it a go.”

As well as the PGG Wrightson Land and Life Award, the Templetons also won the Beef+Lamb New Zealand Livestock Farm Award in the 2012 competition.

Entries for the 2013 Southland Ballance Farm Environment Awards are now open and entry forms can be downloaded from the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust website at www.nzfeatrust.org.nz

For more information on the Ballance Farm Environment Awards, contact David Natzke, General Manager, New Zealand Farm Environment Trust, phone 07 834 0400, emaildavid.natzke@nzfeatrust.org.nz.