1 January 2009
Two plaques on the front gate of Keith and Wendy Holdoms' Katikati Kiwifruit orchard are a lasting souvenir of their success in the 2009 Bay of Plenty Ballance Farm Environment Awards.
Encouraged by a friend to enter the awards, the couple were "blown away" when they were announced winners of the Hill Laboratories Harvest Award and the Zespri™ Kiwifruit Orchard Award.
Keith says winning two category awards in their first time in the competition was completely unexpected. "But it was great to have the honour of being recognised for what you do."
The Holdoms' 10ha orchard 'Cromhall' grows about 4.5ha of kiwifruit using biological practices. Last season the orchard produced 11,500 trays of early start fruit with a count size of 31.5. It is also home to two man-made lakes that provide a reservoir for frost protection and a habitat for birds.
Ballance Farm Environment Awards judges were impressed with the Holdoms' enthusiasm and management skills, their "recognition of market and consumer demand for food from more sustainable systems", their attention to detail and their willingness to try new things.
Though it's a productive and well run orchard, by Keith's own admission there is nothing extraordinary about it.
"I think a lot of people assume that you have to be doing something special to have a chance of winning a Ballance Farm Environment Award, but we were just doing what we do."
Entering the competition was "surprisingly simple" and Keith describes the judging process as an enjoyable and informative process.
"We just talked about why we did what we did. There was no right or wrong answer."
"I enjoy talking to people and one of the best things about this competition is that you get to meet a range of people from different walks of life and with different areas of expertise. It was a great way to build up contacts."
The judges also offered useful feedback and advice, and Keith says he came out of the process feeling better informed about sustainability issues.
His advice to anyone considering entering the 2010 Bay of Plenty Ballance Farm Environment Awards is to have a try.
"I'd happily recommend it. Even if you don't think you are doing anything particularly special, just put it out there and have a go. There are lots of different award categories and you might be surprised at what you get picked out for."
Entries for the 2010 Bay of Plenty Ballance Farm Environment Awards open on September 1 and close on October 16, 2009.
For information on entering the Bay of Plenty Ballance Farm Environment Awards, contact Bay of Plenty BFEA Regional Coordinator Kirsten Winter, phone (07) 573 5238 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on the Ballance Farm Environment Awards, contact David Natzke, General Manager, New Zealand Farm Environment Award Trust, phone 07 834 0400, email@example.com or visit www.bfea.org.nz