The annual Ballance Farm Environment Awards celebrate the best examples of Kiwi ingenuity on our orchards and farms, recognising great business models and land stewardship. Here are three of this year’s Regional Supreme Winners, including farmers who have branched out into tourism, and one orchard owner making a huge environmental impact:

Auckland nursery goes native
Peter Rensen of Utopia Nurseries took home the Auckland award for his dedication to native planting. Rensen’s Pukekohe nursery produces orchids, chrysanthemums, Ruscus greenery, and miscanthus, grown and processed for their potential use as a biofuel.

Extensive riparian planting has been carried out since the early 2000s, and the property now boasts more than four hectares of native bush, including the Raupō wetlands, one of the few habitats of its type around Auckland.

Rensen has enhanced the natural environment through his native planting and reduced soil runoff. He also ensures excess water from glasshouses is filtered before it enters local streams.

His keen focus on freshwater extends to future planning. Rensen has installed new irrigation ponds to ensure future expansion is not reliant on external water sources.

Diversifying income
High Peak Station, managed by eight members of the Guild and Dunbar families, received the Canterbury award. The families were celebrated for building a diverse and robust farming business with several income streams, spanning multiple generations.

Almost half of High Peak Station’s revenue comes from tourism, with the remainder from sheep, cattle, deer, and honey. Each arm of the business was credited for its high-end products and experiences.

The owners have made their eight-person partnership a roaring success, with a strong focus on diversification, sustainability, and long-term financial stability.

Judges were impressed with the owners’ forward-looking approach to regulation, and vast knowledge of the property’s soil, topography, and winter grazing.

Land stewardship in Northland
The 1,500-shareholder collective Oromahoe Trust, managed by Dean Candy, picked up the Northland award.

The Trust was praised for making environmental issues a central part of its business decisions on its sheep and beef farm. The approach has had a positive impact on farm freshwater.

Extensive riparian fencing and native planting have complemented the redevelopment of paddocks for cell grazing, ultimately reducing nitrogen levels, judges said.

The Trust’s environmental stewardship continues to reap rewards. Multiple wetlands on the farm have been protected for many years and have now returned to their natural states. Active pest management has enabled native plants and wildlife to flourish.

Disclaimer: This blog has been carefully prepared, but it has been written in general terms only. The blog should not be relied upon to provide specific information without also obtaining appropriate professional advice after detailed examination of your particular situation.