Entering the Ballance Farm Environment Awards has been a great learning and development experience for new Kaitaia beef and dairy support farmers Gay Pembroke and Mark Corby.
“The past 12 months have been great fun. It was a wonderful experience and I think entering the awards and being involved in the process has given us a lot more confidence that what we are doing is on track,” says Pembroke.
The couple have owned their 102 hectare (ha) dairy support/beef block at Kaitaia for the past three years. Neither are from a farming background and the change that they made in their lives from 4ha to 102ha was exciting, but massive.
They say they enjoyed the networking at the Northland Ballance Farm Environment Awards dinner as well as the comments and feedback they received from the judges.
“The feedback report they gave us is fabulous – very encouraging and there is a lot of valuable information in the report – great ideas and great concepts. We often refer to it and have shared it with others.”
The couple did not make it through to the second round of judging but they say they have no regrets.
“We were not finalists but that did not dishearten or embarrass us. We definitely recognised the calibre of the finalists and the regional winners. We also acknowledge the time and effort contributed by the organisers, sponsors and judges.”
Entering again in the future is a possibility.
“We will definitely contemplate it. We have more capital development to do and we want to finish some of the items mentioned in the feedback report,” says Corby.
“We would strongly recommend and encourage others to enter. Do not wait until you think that your farm is where you want it to be – enter and learn as a work in progress.
“A lot of the locals had been telling us we were doing a great job. But we were also looking for reassurance from professional people advising us we are on the right track.”
Entries are open for the awards around the country. Farmers or growers can enter online at www.bfea.org.nz.
National judging co-ordinator Andrea Hanna says judging teams have a wide range of skills and look at all parts of the farming business. Judging is conducted in a relaxed and friendly manner and climatic factors are taken into account.
“In the past we’ve found farmers can be reluctant to enter if their farm or orchard has been affected by wet weather or drought. But the judges know severe climatic events are part of farming and growing and will look beyond this at the wider picture,” Hanna says.
Providing the entrant agrees to be involved, people are able to nominate another farming or growing business they feel is worthy or may be interested in the awards programme.