The winners of the 2021 Elworthy Award, an environmental accolade for deer farmers, are Grant and Sally Charteris of Forest Road Farm in the Central Hawke’s Bay.
This is the premier environmental accolade for deer farmers, with the award presented to the Charterises at the Deer Industry Conference in Invercargill in May.
It is the second Elworthy Award in a row to be awarded to a Hawke's Bay farm. The previous winners were Evan and Linda Potter of Elsthorpe.
Lead judge, Janet Gregory, said the eight entrants in the biennial deer environmental award had many things in common: active farm environment and business plans and involvement in the deer industry's productivity and environmental activities.
"All are leaders in the industry, show great passion and stewardship of the land, and are supporting their local communities. Many of them have calculated their greenhouse gas emissions or are planning to do so."
Gregory says all of the finalists were of exceptional standard, separated only by the narrowest of margins.
“But the Charterises were notable for their meticulous planning, documentation and analysis. This informs their stock and feed management in their district’s challenging climate.”
Their Forest Road Farm is a 327-hectare red deer stud and velvet operation, which also runs some beef cattle and Wiltshire sheep.
“It’s a great example of a sustainable farming business where the environment is being progressively protected and enhanced,” Gregory adds. “With gullies and streambanks fenced off and planted in trees to reduce soil erosion and to minimise sediment run-off.”
The couple have planted more than 15,000 native trees over the past three years on the 327-hectare rolling to steep hill country property. More tree planting is planned.
“Soil protection is a key focus of everything they do. For example, care is taken when selecting paddocks for cropping and buffer strips of noncultivated land are left alongside gullies.
“Break feeding of crops is avoided and high grass covers are maintained on pasture,” Gregory says.
As well as winning the Elworthy Environmental Award, the Charterises won a further new category award created – the Dr Gyong Jai Lee Award is for ‘leading, environmentally sustainable, velvet farming’. Both these awards are sponsored by SP Corporation and Dr Gyong Jai Lee, a major South Korean marketer of NZ deer velvet.
Award convenor, Lindsay Fung, says this is the first time a deer industry environmental award has been sponsored by an overseas customer.
“It underlines the importance of sustainability to consumers of NZ deer products in Asia as well as in other markets. We are thrilled to have this level of interest and support for our awards.”
The other category winners in the awards were: Arawata Deer Farm, Pine Bush, Southland; Three Rivers Ag, Otorohanga; Goudies Station, Central North Island; Balquidder, Taihape; and Wharerata Farm, Featherston, Wairarapa.
John and Mel Somerville, Arawata Deer Farm, were awarded the Duncan New Zealand Award for ‘forward thinking and innovative farm practices while operating their business within a demanding environment.’