OPINION: Your old mate notes that Conservation Minister and Green MP Eugene Sage was waxing lyrically about the recent legal protection of 11,800 hectares of new conservation land in the Mackenzie Basin.
The Mackenzie's intensive arable farm near Methven has played host to a series of national and international visitors over the last 18-months and held several field days, which displayed the use of technology in lifting farm performance and improving sustainability.
"We invited the Green Party to come and see what we are doing. We also reached out to the wider community because we feel it is our duty to engage urban people and help them understand what farmers are trying to do."
The couple themselves have also travelled widely. As ambassadors for sustainable agriculture, they have spread the sustainability message throughout New Zealand and overseas. Tours to Argentina, Chile and Uruguay gave them the chance to study arable farming, dairying and beef production internationally. A key aim of the trip was to exchange views on topics of interest to New Zealand farmers and to showcase New Zealand's stance on agricultural sustainability.
In October, Craige was part of a group of 16 farmers attending the Global Farmer Roundtable in Iowa. Held as part of the World Food Prize meetings, the roundtable addresses the challenge of providing enough food for 9 billion people by 2050.
Craige, the only Kiwi invited, says the experience was humbling.
"It certainly made me realise how lucky we are to have what we have in New Zealand. In terms of agriculture, we have some huge advantages climatically and technologically. But the whole aim of the forum was to brainstorm how we can work together globally to increase agricultural productivity and be more efficient in what we do."
He and Roz look back on their involvement with the Ballance Farm Environment Awards with pride and affection.
"We really enjoyed rubbing shoulders with the other regional winners. Being involved in the competition gave us a real shot in the arm and provided added drive to keep us innovating and improving our farming systems."