Northland's farmers and growers are being encouraged to enter the 2018/19 Ballance Farm Environment Awards, organised by the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust, a charity that works to promote sustainable production.

"There's a lot of discussion about the need for the primary sector to tell our stories," trust chair (and Mid Canterbury farmer) Joannne van Polanen said.

"And the awards provide an opportunity for farmers and growers to share the positive actions they are involved in with their local community and a wider audience."

Andrea Hanna, the national judging co-ordinator, said all farmers and growers, including orchardists, vegetable growers and viticulturists, were eligible to enter.


"Each entrant is visited by a small group of rural professionals who identify opportunities to improve the financial and environmental sustainability of the farm business.

"It's not just targeted at top farmers. The awards are an important opportunity to grow and learn from others," she said.

The judging teams had a wide range of skills, and looked at all parts of the farming business in a relaxed, friendly manner, and taking climatic factors into account.

"In the past we've found farmers can be reluctant to enter if their farm has been affected by unseasonal weather or some other event, but the judges understand that unexpected challenges are part of farming, and will look beyond this at the wider picture," she added.

Many past entrants in the awards said their involvement had been of benefit to their personal development because they had met and been inspired by a range of like-minded people.

Entering the awards was free and took two minutes by way of completing a simple form, which is available online at

People were also able to nominate another farming or growing business that they believed would benefit from involvement in the awards programme.

Entries close at the end of October, with entrants and winners to be showcased at regional functions held throughout the country in autumn 2019.