Thursday, 10 September 2015 08:56

Auckland farmers encouraged to enter awards

Written by 
Mark Bell, chairman, Auckland Ballance Farm Environment Awards. Mark Bell, chairman, Auckland Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

Entries have opened for the 2016 Auckland Ballance Farm Environment Awards and organisers are optimistic for the region’s first year in competition.

Mark Ball, newly appointed chair of the Auckland Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA), says all farmers, including orchardists, vegetable growers and viticulturists, are eligible to enter.

“This is also an outstanding opportunity for farmers and growers to show urban Aucklanders and the city’s decision makers what’s happening on farms and orchards in the region,” he says.

“The competition will raise awareness of the great agricultural, horticultural and viticultural industry on the city’s doorstep, and show that the people involved in these businesses are striving to achieve best environmental practice by producing food in the most sustainable way possible.”

Wellsford farmer and Auckland BFEA management committee member Ken Hames describes participating in the competition as a “highly worthwhile experience”.

A former entrant in the Northland Ballance Farm Environment Awards, Hames says everyone in the agricultural or horticultural sectors should consider entering, even if they feel their farm or orchard is not ready.

“You are never going to have the perfect farm. It’s always a work in progress.”

Hames says the feedback from the judges is fantastic “and it’s a great experience meeting the other contestants and learning from them as well”.

Facilitated by the New Zealand Farm Environment (NZFE) Trust and held in 11 regions throughout the country, the awards promote best-practice land management. They aim to highlight the work of farm practices that are environmentally, economically and socially sustainable.

Ball says most people enter because they want high quality feedback on how their farming operation stacks up in terms of environmental and economic sustainability. The competition enables entrants to benchmark themselves against their peers and receive valuable advice on how to improve the sustainability of their operations.

It costs nothing to enter the awards, which cover a wide range of categories, so entrants who are performing well in one specific area have a chance of picking up a category award.

“Even if you don’t win an award, you still get the benefits of having your business reviewed in a productive way that will help you to improve in future,” says Ball.

Entries for the Auckland BFEA close on October 30, 2015. The competition is supported by Auckland Council.

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