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Award entrants encourage others to put their hands up

Kaitaia farmers Gay Pembroke and Mark Corby. Image supplied by New Zealand Farm Environment Trust.

Entering the Ballance Farm Environment Awards has been a great learning and development experience for new Kaitaia 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,” Gay says.

The couple have owned their 102ha dairy support/beef block at Kaitaia for the past three years. Neither Gay nor Mark 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,” Mark says.

“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.”

All farmers and horticulturists, including orchardists, vegetable growers and viticulturists, within the geographic area covered by the Northland Regional Council are eligible to enter until October 31 2017.

First round judging will take place between 13 and 30 November 2017 when the finalists will be decided.

After another round of judging, award winners and the overall supreme winner will be announced at an award ceremony dinner on March 21, 2018 at the Copthorne Hotel and Resort Bay of Islands, Paihia.

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,” Mrs 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.

Source: New Zealand Farm Environment Trust

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