Evan and Linda Potter are the new National Ambassadors for Sustainable Farming and Growing, and the recipients of the Gordon Stephenson Trophy.
The announcement was made last night at the National Sustainability Showcase at Te Papa in Wellington, where all regional supreme winners from the 2020 Ballance Farm Environment Awards were in attendance.
The Ballance Farm Environment Awards is an annual celebration and promotion of sustainable farming and growing practices, where regional supreme winners come together to share ideas and information.
The Potters said they chose to enter the Ballance Farm Environment 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 bystanders. We realised we have a story to share and hope that it can inspire others on their journey," said Evan.
Both Linda and Evan were heavily involved with their local community and developed a strong partnership with their regional council.
Listen to Jamie Mackay interview Evan and Linda Potter on The Country below:
The Potters run a sheep, beef and deer operation on their Central Hawke's Bay hill country property Waipapa.
The Potters purchased Waipapa Station in 1997 and began transforming the 740-hectare property into an aesthetically pleasing and successful business, producing venison, velvet, wool, sheep and beef.
The couple focused on biodiversity and trees, retiring 22 per cent of their farm into mainly QEII National Trust covenants.
They planned to continue fencing and retire more land in partnership with QEII.
Planting initiatives included natives, wetland and riparian, along with an annual pole-planting programme for shade and erosion control. Regular possum, cat and pest control also took place.
The national judging panel said it was impressed with the Potters' focus on solutions, and the couple's understanding of using sound financial performance to fund environmental projects.
The judges said the Potters presented well-articulated, positive and holistic views about New Zealand and its future as a food and fibre producer on the international stage.
They both had an excellent understanding of on and off-farm challenges faced by the sector, the judges said.
Along with impressive biodiversity the Potters also diversified their income stream from livestock across sheep, beef and deer, farmed for velvet.
"The Potters demonstrate a sound understanding of industry metrics around key topics of climate change and reducing greenhouse gases," national judging panel chair, Dianne Kidd said
"They certainly 'walk the talk' with their environmental projects and sustainability initiatives. They are role models as early adopters of change."