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Ballance Farm Environment Awards: Ashburton family wins National Ambassador title

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Phillip and Paul Everest received the National Ambassadors for Sustainable Farming and Growing title and the Gordon Stephenson Trophy at the Ballance Farm Environment Awards. Photo / Supplied

Ashburton father and son, Phillip and Paul Everest are the new National Ambassadors for Sustainable Farming and Growing.

The pair won the title at the Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA), held last night at the National Sustainability Showcase at Te Pae in Christchurch.

The Awards is an annual celebration and promotion of sustainable farming and growing practices hosted by the New Zealand Environment Farm Trust (NZEFT) where regional supreme winners come together to share ideas and information.

The Everests are also the recipients of the Gordon Stephenson Trophy, which comes with the ambassador title.

The Everest family runs Flemington Farm in Ashburton where they’ve expanded the 255-ha property into a sustainable dairy and beef farm.

They were named the 2022 Regional Supreme winners in the Canterbury Balance Farm Environment awards in July this year.

Phillip and Paul are supported by their partners Jocelyn Everest and Sarah Hayman respectively.

Having owned Flemington Farm since 1989, they introduced dairy into the mix in 2010 and currently milk 750 cows on a predominantly pasture-based system.

When they set up the milking platform that year, the best technology of the day was incorporated, as the Everests were committed to investing in looking after their labor and the environment.

The Awards judging panel said the Everests had developed a sustainable dairy and beef farm that balanced the needs of people, animals, economics and the environment.

Their “give-it-a-go” attitude resulted in the implementation of new strategies to successfully reduce greenhouse gas emissions and nitrogen loss, the judges said.

“Phillip and Paul combined their experience and energy to provide clear and informative responses addressing the problems facing their business and those of our primary sector.

“Their understanding of their current GHG emissions and metrics was impressive, stepping through their calculations around various scenarios and demonstrating a clear understanding of their requirements and options to address this. Climate change is accepted as mainstream.”

Judges also commented on how the Everests aim to have one person in the shed each milking, to minimize water use.

They also treated effluent as fertilizer and focused on creating a good working and home environment for their employees – resulting in a stable workforce that enjoyed training and development opportunities, the judges said.

“Environmental sustainability is at the core of how this family runs their business.

“Among a raft of other initiatives, the Everests have established more than 20km of shelter and riparian plantings – creating a comfortable environment for their animals and enhancing the property’s beauty.

“They also monitor all their streams on a regular basis.”

A large part of the reason for their regional win was the Everests’ connection with the local community, the judges said.

“They are involved in several catchment and district initiatives largely focused on improving the environment, and they continue to trial and monitor new technologies as they work to develop a farm that is environmentally sound while also being profitable and beautiful.”

National judging panel chair Dianne Kidd said the family demonstrated a broad and deep understanding of agri-business in New Zealand “through agile and well-informed responses” to questions.

“This includes an open and considered view of what they envision their farm system may look like in 5 – 10 years.

“We are confident they will be excellent ambassadors for the NZFET.”

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