Four local farming families have made it to the regional finals of the 2019 Ballance Farm Environment Awards, which celebrate good farm practices and promote sustainable land management.
This year’s Auckland regional finalists are James, Nicola, Roger and Judith Brady of Audmore Dairy Farm, Ahuroa; Gordon Levet of Kikitangeo Romney Stud, Wellsford; and dairy farmers Cameron and Jo Shepherd of Wellsford, and Ian and Jo Trotter of Matakana.
Between them, the finalists have a broad range of experience and background in farming, from Gordon Levet, whose family has farmed his sheep and beef property off the Kaipara Coast Highway for 146 years, to UK migrants the Brady family, who bought their Ahuroa dairy farm 11 years ago.
The main judging for all of them will take place over the week beginning January 20, when teams of farming specialists and rural professionals will visit each property to assess each finalist’s business and farm environment. In particular, they will be looking for evidence of sustainable profitability, environmental awareness, good business practices and social and community responsibility, though organisers stress that the process is always friendly, open and interactive.
All the finalists will receive free constructive feedback and a report on their farming business. The awards are designed to be a “stimulating, informative and enjoyable chance for farmers to benchmark their businesses with other like-minded farmers in their region”.
The winner will be announced at the Auckland Ballance Farm Environment Awards evening, which will be held in Auckland on March 27.
Last year’s winners were the Dill family of Kaipara Flats.
The Trotter family have been dairy farming in Wright Road, Matakana for 115 years.
Gordon and Trish Levet at home on their 600 hectare Wellsford sheep and beef farm.
Cameron and Jo Shepherd have a dairy farm off Bosher Road, Wellsford.