Benchmarking themselves against other farmers was a big plus in entering the Ballance Farm Environment Awards, say Wairarapa farmers Mike and Liz McCreary.
“The past 12 months have been great fun. It was a wonderful experience. Entering the awards and being involved in the process has given us a lot more confidence that what we are doing is on track,” Pembroke says.
They have owned their 102ha dairy support/beef block at Kaitaia for three years. Neither is from a farming background and they say the change they made from 4ha to 102ha was exciting but massive.
They enjoyed networking at the Northland Ballance Farm Environment Awards dinner and the comments and feedback they got from the judges.
“The feedback they gave is fabulous, very encouraging and there is a lot of valuable information in the report – great ideas and great concepts. We often refer to it and have shared it with others.”
While the couple did not make it through to the second round of judging they say they have no regrets.
“We were not finalists, but that did not dishearten or embarrass us,” Pembroke adds. “We definitely recognised the calibre of the finalists and the regional winners. We also acknowledge the time and effort contributed by the organisers, sponsors and judges.”
Entering again is a possibility for the couple. “We will definitely contemplate it. We have more capital development to do and we want to finish some of the items mentioned in the feedback report,” Corby says.
“We would strongly recommend and encourage others to enter. Do not wait until you think your farm is where you want it to be; enter and learn as a work in progress.”
He says a lot of the locals had been telling the couple they were doing a great job.
“But we were also looking for reassurance from professional people advising us we are on the right track.”
National judging co-ordinator Andrea Hanna says judging teams have a wide range of skills and look at all parts of the farming business. Judging is relaxed and friendly and climatic factors are considered.
“In the past, we’ve found farmers can be reluctant to enter if their farm or orchard has been affected by wet weather or drought,” Hanna says. “But the judges know severe climate events are part of farming and growing and will look beyond this at the wider picture.”
Anyone may nominate a farmer or grower, provided the nominee agrees. Entries are now open.