MataRata Downs, owned and operated by farming partners Jarred and Sarah Coogan and Bryan and Helen Hocken. Sarah's parents, was announced the Regional Supreme Winner at last Thursday's 2019 Taranaki Ballance Farm Environment Awards run by the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust.

The Ballance Farm Environment Awards champion sustainable farming and growing through an awards programme where one Regional Supreme Winner is selected from each of 11 regions. These Regional Supreme Winners will be profiled at the Awards' National Sustainability Showcase in Hamilton on Thursday, June 6, with each in the running for the Gordon Stephenson Trophy.

A well-established sheep and beef farm, MataRata Downs is the Regional Supreme Winner thanks to the team's hard work, particularly in its environmental activities. The farm has an existing QEII bush, and with the benefit of Taranaki Regional Council and QEII funding, another 2ha of bush is being fenced off this summer with an extra 1ha of steeper land added to it.

MataRata Downs is well fenced with a significant number of established trees planted to provide shelter to stock and secure at-risk areas. Impressive knowledge and passion for these plantings is displayed. Areas of the farm continue to be planted with popular poles.

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The business has heritage flowing through its veins, but a contemporary heartbeat, thanks to the team's forward-thinking approach to embracing and utilising technology.

The judges were impressed to see that underpinning the business, guiding best practice, is a robust business plan clearly detailing targets and aspirations, ranging from social and family, through to financial and environmental, with sustainability at the heart of everything.

The judges said of MataRata Downs' achievements, "the team's contagious passion for all aspects of agriculture and strong intergenerational thinking, its link to the community, and a strong business plan edged out their competitors".

"I think the best thing about entering the awards is getting feedback and reassurance about being on the right track with ever-changing agri-business rules/boundaries," Jarred Coogan says.

"Bryan and Helen have achieved so much. and their parents before them, so that is worth celebrating. It drives us to continually improve with a positive focus on the future. As for those who want to enter, just go for it. I don't think you are ever 'ready' but it's great to take the plunge".

This year, MataRata Downs is not only the Regional Supreme Winner in Taranaki and also received other awards. The Massey University Innovation Award recognises a farmer or grower who demonstrates Kiwi ingenuity for solving a problem or pursuing a new opportunity, and the Norwood Agri-Business Management Award for farmers accomplishing the important management practices of operating a successful farm business.

Each year, the Ballance Farm Environment Awards ceremonies, the National Sustainability Showcase, and winners' field days offer a unique, pan-sector forum for networking and the sharing of ideas and information among farming/growers peers, agribusiness professionals and the wider community.

The Taranaki Ballance Farm Environment Awards' Field Day is Thursday, April 11 at 10.30am.