Just to be a finalist was an absolute thrill for Gary and Adrienne Dalton and the Te Whangai Trust in 2017’s Auckland Ballance Farm Environment Awards.
Winning the region’s Hill Laboratories Harvest Award made it even sweeter, Gary says.
Established in 2007 from the Dalton family dairy farm based at Miranda, Te Whangai Trust exists to run native plant nurseries and associated planting operations focused on resourcing environmental obligations while providing skills and experience to long-term unemployed and those less likely to gain employment or training opportunities (through Ministry of Social Development contracts).
It has grown to employ 25 people across four “training platforms” spread across north Waikato, South Auckland and Auckland.
The projected 2017 production is 600,000 plants.
“We were so happy for the work we do to be recognised,” Adrienne adds.
“We’re not a farming enterprise directly but we’re about reducing the cost of environmental mitigation and offering employment opportunities to give sometimes second-generation unemployed people a chance to transition into the economy.
“We’re killing two birds with one stone and to be recognised through the Ballance Farm Environment Awards structure as an important part of agriculture is huge for us.”
Entries are open for the 2018 Ballance Farm Environment Awards – it will be the third year Auckland has been involved.
All farmers and horticulturists, including orchardists, vegetable growers and viticulturists, within the geographic area of Auckland Council are eligible to enter until October 31 2017.
After two rounds of judging, award winners and the overall supreme winner will be announced at a gala dinner on April 4 2017.
Gary Dalton’s forbears began farming their original block in 1868. The Daltons live on their 270ha dairy farm, which is managed by son Marc alongside the nursery infrastructure development.
Gary and Adrienne are the founding trustees of Te Whangai Charitable Trust, which honours the memory of Gary and Adrienne’s daughter Leigh.
“The Trust relies on word of mouth with no advertising or marketing of any description,” Gary says.
“We’re different from other entrants in these awards, which makes us hard to judge alongside the other farms. But it’s huge encouragement for what we do and that’s worth a million dollars. Everything we do is against the norm and we get more knock backs than knocks forward so simple encouragement is huge for us.”
They have already won Green Ribbon and sustainable business awards and the awareness of their work continues to grow after their Ballance Farm Environment Awards win.
Adrienne says they have done a number of presentations to local water care groups and organisations such as Federated Farmers and already work with Farm Source.
“Being part of the awards has been really valuable to make connections… extending the sphere of influence.”
Entries for the 2018 Auckland Ballance Farm Environment Awards close on October 31 2017.
Source: New Zealand Farm Environment Trust