North Waikato sheep and beef farmer John Jackson has had an interesting and eclectic journey on the way to his eventual farming career and farm ownership.
Now more than ever, it is important that farmers and growers share their positive stories with others, says Joanne van Polanen, chair of the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust, which manages the BFEA.
“Entering the awards helps share stories with other farmers and growers on how they have managed and implemented changes,” van Polanen told Rural News. “It also allows them to share stories so the wider community can learn about the significant changes farmers and growers are continuously making for their businesses to remain sustainable.”
When van Polanen looks back 10 years on their dairy farm, she says if they hadn’t made changes they probably wouldn’t be farming today.
“This has been on everything from breeding changes, science innovation, environmental changes – whether through regulation or growing awareness – and rapid changes to irrigation methods in the Canterbury region.”
She says every generation could probably look back at their farming career and make a tally of changes. But those changes are now coming quicker.
“There’s a lot happening out there and the awards are one good way to share these stories and for farmers to decide where they can implement changes.”
Farmers and growers at every stage of their journey should share their stories, she says.
“Time and time again we have heard how much entrants valued the experience -- the enriching knowledge from the judges, the opportunity to meet and share ideas with peers, and to have the opportunity to share positive rural stories with wider NZ.”
Van Polanen says it is rewarding to share your story with people who have an interest and an opportunity to benchmark where their business sits environmentally and on social responsibility, good business practices and sustainable profitability.
“Entrants will receive feedback through discussion on the day of the visit and a written feedback report and they get the opportunity to celebrate their regions’ farmers and growers on the regional awards evening. It is a positive evening where everyone shares in the success.”
The BFEA runs in 11 regions NZ-wide, promoting sustainable farming and growing.
The judges take a holistic approach to the feedback by evaluating every aspect of the farming/growing business from environmental management, productivity and profitability through to family and community involvement.
Provided they give their consent, farmers and growers can be nominated by others to enter the awards as part of a new initiative by the NZ Farm Environment Trust.