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National ambassadors for sustainable farming recognised

1 June 2017

National ambassadors for sustainable farming recognised

The winners of the national ambassador title for the Ballance Farm Environment Awards describe their farm as the largest lifestyle block in Taranaki.

Ohangai sheep, beef and dairy farmers Peter and Nicola Carver won the National Ambassador title over 10 other regional supreme winners at the National Sustainability Showcase event at the Ascot Park Hotel in Invercargill on May 31.

Operating as Holmleigh Trust Partnership, the couple combine dairy and dry stock farming on their 515ha family property east of Hawera.

“It’s a huge shock and a huge honour,” Peter said.

He said the judging had been intimidating at times but the opportunity to feedback and test their business against others was something he held in high regard.

“It has been a great opportunity for us to learn more about our business and the way forward,” added Nicola.

“This has been a great step in what is turning into an incredible learning journey.”

Operating with obvious consideration for the long-term viability of both their farming business and the environment, Peter and Nicola have a sheep and beef breeding and finishing unit wintering 4500 stock units complemented by a 95ha dairy platform milking 260 cows at the peak of this season.

Speaking on behalf of the national judges, Joanne van Polanen said the Carvers were upbeat and enthusiastic, insightful and had immense pride and passion in their business, the environment and the primary sector.

“From a business point of view, they planned and managed their dairy conversion with consideration given to future management,” she said.  Their first season milking was 2014/15.

“Their farm has 5km of road frontage and they embrace the opportunity to have their farm in public view.”

She said the couple had a well-performing business supported by strong partnerships and worked closely with the Taranaki Regional Council Stress Scheme to progressively retire and plant erosion-prone land.

The Carvers are active in their community and have a unique breadth of sector knowledge and experience across dairy, sheep and beef and forestry.

“They have also demonstrated empathy with significant life events – working through the closure of the local school and media coverage of the community they live in,” van Polanen said.

The Carvers were awarded the Gordon Stephenson Trophy by the Minister for Primary Industries, Nathan Guy.

The supreme winners of 11 regional awards were invited to the Showcase in Invercargill to be considered for the trophy named in honour of Waikato farmer and noted conservationist, the late Gordon Stephenson. As a national award it is separate to the regional programme and judged under a different criteria including their wider understanding of the primary sector.

“It’s a great opportunity to celebrate the achievements of the 11 regional winners. The Carvers will be great ambassadors for New Zealand’s primary sector for 2017 and into the future,” says Simon Saunders, chairman of the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust, which runs the awards programme.

The Trust seeks to promote leadership in environmental excellence and encourage management practices that protect and enhance the environment and add value to farming businesses and communities.

The awards are open to any business making its living from the soil – agriculture, horticulture and viticulture. Alongside the Carvers, the other regional supreme winners were: Auckland – Helensville dairy farmers Scott and Sue Narbey; Bay of Plenty – Opotiki dairy farmers Jared and Sue Watson; Canterbury – sheep, beef and deer farmers John, Peter and Charles Douglas-Clifford from North Canterbury;  East Coast – sheep, beef and goat farmers Philip and Robyn Holt from Bay View in Hawke's Bay; Greater Wellington – Masterton arable and sheep and beef farmers Nathan and Kate Williams; Horizons – Pongaroa sheep and beef farmers Shaun and Tracie Baxter; Northland – Bay of Islands horticultural stalwarts Alan and Helen Thompson, Kerikeri, with kiwifruit, lemons, melons and grapes, wine making, beer brewing and post-harvest packing and storage; Otago - Palmerston sheep and beef farmers Simon and Kirstin Engelbrecht; Southland - Glenham sheep and dairy grazing farmers David, Alanna and Julie Clarke; and Waikato – sheep and beef farmers and nursery owners Charlie and Helen Lea, Cambridge.

For more information please contact NZ Farm Environment Trust General Manager James Ryan at james.ryan@nzfeatrust.org.nz or 027 3245517.