Hawke’s Bay sheep, beef and deer farmers Evan and Linda Potter are the new National Ambassadors for Sustainable Farming and Growing and recipients of the prestigious Gordon Stephenson Trophy.
The couple won the ambassadorial award at this year’s Ballance Farm Environment Awards National Sustainability Showcase held in Wellington last week.
Chair of the National Judging Panel, Dianne Kidd, described the Evans as role models of early adopters of change by demonstrating a sound understanding of industry metrics around climate change and reducing greenhouse gases.
“Evan and Linda have an obvious love of farming and 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.”
The Potters bought their 740ha farm ‘Waipapa’ in 1997, starting out with what was effectively a blank canvas.
They have since transformed the property into an aesthetically pleasing and productive business producing venison, beef, wool, sheep meat and lamb. In parallel with a drive on productivity has been a strong environmental focus. Evan and Linda have retired 22 per cent of their farm, mainly into QE11 National Trust covenants. The couple has plans to continue to fence and retire more land in partnership with QE11.
The couple also has an annual pole planting programme in place for shade and erosion control, a native planting programme which includes riparian and wetland areas, and carry out regular possum, cat and other pest control.
The judges noted that the Potters were solutions-focused and had an understanding of the need to maintain sound financial management to fund environmental projects.
Evan and Linda say they chose to enter the BFEA 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.
Beef + Lamb New Zealand congratulates the Evans
Sam McIvor, Chief Executive of Beef + Lamb New Zealand , which sponsors the BFEA Awards, says he was thrilled to see the ambassadorial role go to a couple who has such a clear understanding of the challenges facing the sector.
“The Potters are front-footing many of the regulatory and market challenges facing the sector and highlighting that productivity and outstanding land stewardship can go hand-in-hand.”
He says work carried out through B+LNZ’s Taste Pure Nature red meat brand has shown that “conscientious foodies” are demanding meat produced with the highest standards of environmental stewardship and animal welfare.
“This is exactly how Evan and Linda are farming and these are the stories that our consumers love to hear.”
Sam says the Potters’ farm “Waipapa” is an outstanding example of the work being carried out on farms throughout the country.
“I’m sure the Evan and Linda will inspire other farmers, while showing the wider public that the majority of farmers take enormous pride in their environment and do their best to protect and enhance their natural resources.”
He says one of the reasons B+LNZ is proud to sponsor the Ballance Farm Environment Awards is that it not only provides an opportunity for the sector to celebrate outstanding environmental stewardship, but it acts as a vehicle to showcase environmental excellence to the wider public as well as regulators.