Ballance award goes to Hawkes Bay Farmers

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Evan and Linda Potter, of Central Hawke’s Bay hill country property, Waipapa, (sheep, beef and deer) are the new National Ambassadors for Sustainable Farming and Growing and the recipients of the Gordon Stephenson Trophy.

The award announcement was made recently at the National Sustainability Showcase at Te Papa,Wellington, attended by all of the regional supreme winners from the 2020 Ballance Farm Environment Awards. 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.

Ballance is headquartered in Tauranga. And the couple recently visited the head office to present to Ballance staff the thinking around their farming practices, how they lead in sustainability and their journey and experience in the BFEA awards and as ambassadors. Their visit also included their potential advice to future applicants.

The Potters bought Waipapa in 1997 and set to work transforming what they described as a blank canvas into an aesthetically pleasing and productive business producing venison, velvet, wool, sheep and beef off this 740 ha property.

There is a focus on biodiversity and trees with 22 percent 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.

The Potter’s focus on solutions and their understanding of the need to maintain sound financial performance to fund environmental projects was a stand out for the National Judging Panel. Judges noted that the owners presented well-articulated, positive and holistic views about New Zealand and its future as a food and fibre producer on the international stage.

Judges noted they both have an excellent understanding of on and off farm challenges faced by the sector. Along with impressive biodiversity, they have also diversified their income stream from livestock across sheep, beef and deer, farmed for velvet.

They chose to enter the Ballance Farm Environment Awards because of their passion for the environment and to share their story.

“We want to get around the table and have an impact and not just be by-standers,” said Evan Potter. “We realised we have a story to share and hope that it can inspire others on their journey.”

Both Linda and Evan have been heavily involved with their local community and have developed a strong partnership with their regional council.

Chair of the National Judging Panel, Dianne Kidd said: “On behalf of the judges of the Gordon Stephenson Trophy, I would like to congratulate Evan and Linda Potter. The Potter’s 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.”

The Awards are run by the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust, a charity dedicated to promoting leadership in environmental excellence and encouraging the uptake of management practices which both protect and enhance the environment and add value to farming businesses and communities.

Each year, the Ballance Farm Environment Awards’ regional ceremonies, the National Sustainability Showcase, and regional supreme winners’ field days offer a unique, pan-sector forum for networking and the sharing of ideas and information among farming/grower peers, agribusiness professionals and the wider community.

Related: Ballance responds to on-farm challenges

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