John and Catherine Ford from Rotorua are the Ballance Farm Environment Award winners for 2015, the first time a North Island farming business has won this award.
The Potters run Waipapa, a sheep, beef and deer property in Central Hawke's Bay.
They won the award at last night's National Sustainability Showcase at Te Papa, Wellington, attended by all of the regional supreme winners from the 2020 Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA).
The BFEA is an annual celebration and promotion of sustainable farming and growing practices, where regional supreme winners come together to share ideas and information.
Purchasing Waipapa in 1997, the Potters set to work on transforming what they describe as a blank canvas, into an aesthetically pleasing and productive business producing venison, wool, sheep and beef off this 740 hectare property.
There is a focus on biodiversity: trees with 22% of their farm retired into mainly QEII National Trust covenants and plans to continue fencing and retirement of more land in partnership with QEII.
Other initiatives include an annual pole planting programme for shade and erosion control, planting of natives, regular possum, cat and pest control, and wetland and riparian planting.
Chair of the National Judging Panel, Diane Kidd says the Potters demonstrate a sound understanding of industry metrics around key topics of climate change and reducing greenhouse gases.
"They certainly 'walk the talk' with their environmental projects and sustainability initiatives. They are role models as early adopters of change.
"Evan and Linda have an obvious love of farming and a pride in the successful business they have built together over the last 23 years. They are practical and sustainable and tell a very good story that many others will learn from."