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Preservation of Native Bush Earns Category Award Prize

2 September 2008

Preservation of Native Bush Earns Category Award Prize

The preservation of native bush on their Canterbury farm earned Murray and Sue Johns a category award in the 2008 Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

The Johns, who farm sheep, beef cattle and deer on two blocks near Akaroa, started fencing the bush five years ago with the help of the Banks Peninsula Conservation Trust

 Sue Johns says the native bush contained nikau palms and rare orchids and ferns that have thrived since the 8ha block was fenced.

She says the project gave them a sense of satisfaction they were contributing to the health of the planet while also preserving part of a farm that has been farmed by five generations of the Johns family (son Will is set to take over the farm soon and this will make it six).

Their efforts in preserving the bush won Paua Bay Farm a PGG Wrightson Habitat Improvement Award in the 2008 Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

Sue says entering the annual competition was well worthwhile, even if they did hesitate a little at the start. “Murray is not someone to put himself out there, but he is always encouraging the younger people to give these things a go and so he had to practice what he preaches.”

Their involvement with the awards made them think hard about the long-term sustainability of their operation. “When you have been farming for a while you start to form a real attachment to the land and a great desire to look after it for future generations.”

Sue says she and Murray were very impressed by the professionalism and friendliness of the Ballance Farm Environment Awards team. This made entering the competition an experience she would recommend to any farmer.

“They were wonderful people to work with and I’d certainly encourage people to support the competition because it has very worthy goals.”

The Johns farm a total of 340ha and run 1600 breeding ewes, 110 breeding hinds and 50 breeding cows. They also operate a farmstay and farm tour business.

Entries for the 2009 Canterbury Ballance Farm Environment Awards opened on September 1, 2008.

For more information or an entry form, contact Nicola Hunt, Canterbury Regional Co-ordinator, Ballance Farm Environment Awards, phone (03) 353 9711 or email bfea@ecan.govt.nz