Federated Farmers members Evan and Linda Potter, of Central Hawke’s Bay hill country property, Waipapa, (sheep, beef and deer) are the new National Ambassadors for Sustainable Farming and Growing and the recipients of the Gordon Stephenson Trophy.
The announcement was made on Thursday at the National Sustainability Showcase at Te Papa in Wellington, attended by all of the regional supreme winners from the 2020 Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA). The BFEA is an annual celebration and promotion of sustainable farming and growing practices, where regional supreme winners come together to share ideas and information.
Purchasing Waipapa in 1997, the Potter’s set to work on transforming what they describe as a blank canvas, into an aesthetically pleasing and productive business producing venison, velvet, wool, sheep and beef off this 740 hectare property. There is a focus on biodiversity and trees with an impressive 22% of their farm retired into mainly QEII National Trust covenants and plans to continue fencing and retirement of more land in partnership with QEII.
Other initiatives include an annual pole planting programme for shade and erosion control, planting of natives, regular possum, cat and pest control, and wetland and riparian planting.
Evan and Linda’s focus on solutions and their understanding of the need to maintain sound financial performance to fund environmental projects was a stand out for the National Judging Panel. The judges noted that the Potter’s presented well-articulated, positive and holistic views about New Zealand and its future as a food and fibre producer on the international stage. They both have an excellent understanding of on and off farm challenges faced by the sector. Along with impressive biodiversity they have also diversified their income stream from livestock across sheep, beef and deer, farmed for velvet.
Evan and Linda chose to enter the Ballance Farm Environment Awards because of their passion for the environment and to share their story. “We want to get around the table and have an impact and not just be by-standers. We realised we have a story to share and hope that it can inspire others on their journey,” said Evan. Both Linda and Evan have been heavily involved with their local community and have developed a strong partnership with their regional council.
Chair of the National Judging Panel, Dianne Kidd said “On behalf of the judges of the Gordon Stephenson Trophy, I would like to congratulate Evan and Linda Potter. The Potter’s demonstrate a sound understanding of industry metrics around key topics of climate change and reducing greenhouse gases. They certainly ‘walk the talk’ with their environmental projects and sustainability initiatives. They are role models as early adopters of change.
“Evan & Linda have an obvious love of farming and a pride in the successful business they have built together over the last 23 years. They are practical and sustainable and tell a very good story that many others will learn from. We wish them well in the year ahead as the National Ambassadors for Sustainable Farming and Growing and as recipients of the prestigious Gordon Stephenson Trophy.”
The Ballance Farm Environment Awards are run by the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust, a charity dedicated to promoting leadership in environmental excellence and encouraging the uptake of management practices which both protect and enhance the environment and add value to farming businesses and communities. Each year, the Ballance Farm Environment Awards’ regional ceremonies, the National Sustainability Showcase, and regional supreme winners’ field days offer a unique, pan-sector forum for networking and the sharing of ideas and information among farming/grower peers, agribusiness professionals and the wider community.