In less than one month, entries will close for the Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA) and farmers and growers are encouraged to get involved to help highlight how hard the industry is working to employ sustainable farming and growing practices.

Farmers and growers have an important opportunity through the Ballance Farm Environment Awards to raise awareness about the great progress being made in the rural sector Joanne van Polanen, chair of the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust, which manages the BFEA, says now, more than ever, it is important that farmers and growers share their positive stories with others.

"The New Zealand Farm Environment Trust encourages and welcomes farmers and growers at every stage of their sustainability journey to enter before the end of October," she says.

Joanne says good farming stories matter and can make all the difference to public understanding and perception of the sector.

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"Farmers and growers have an important opportunity through the Ballance Farm Environment Awards to raise awareness about the great progress being made in the rural sector."

BFEA, run in 11 regions throughout the country, promote sustainable farming and growing. Farmers and growers showcase, benchmark and improve their operation through a constructive process where fellow farmers and growers and agribusiness professionals provide feedback, recommendations and commendations.

The judges evaluate every aspect of the farming/growing business from environmental management, productivity and profitability through to family and community involvement.

Provided they consent, farmers and growers can be nominated to enter the awards by others as part of a new initiative by the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust.

"We are excited for what the 2020 programme will bring and are looking forward to seeing farmers and growers at every stage of their journey," says Joanne.

"Former entrants have commented that they questioned whether or not they were 'ready' to enter but that their confidence grew significantly as they moved through the programme.

"Time and again we have heard how much entrants valued the experience — the enriching knowledge from the judges, opportunity to meet and share ideas with peers, and to have the opportunity to share positive rural stories with wider New Zealand."

The 2019 National Ambassadors for Sustainable Farming and Growing, and recipients of the Gordon Stephenson Trophy, Adrian and Pauline Ball say if you are thinking of entering, go for it.

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"The friends and judging feedback make the whole journey worthwhile," they say.

• Entries are open until Thursday, October 31. For information and to enter visit www.nzfeatrust.org.nz