Nominations received in this year's Horticulture New Zealand (HortNZ) Environmental Award were of such high calibre, two organisations have been recognised.
"Where the HortNZ Board determines there are exceptional circumstances and more than one award should be made, we can choose to present an additional award," HortNZ vice president, Bernadine Balle-Guilleux said.
Oakley's Premium Fresh Vegetables from Canterbury and the Auckland branch of MG - Market Gardeners Ltd. both received an Environmental Award.
HortNZ usually gives out its awards at the annual Horticulture Conference, but it was cancelled this year due to the uncertainty created by Covid.
However, the board felt it was important to celebrate growers' success "in what has been another challenging year," Balle-Guilleux said.
"As a result, we have been presenting this year's awards at various grower events, and will conclude the presentations at the HortNZ AGM in Nelson on September 21".
Oakley's Premium Fresh Vegetables
Balle-Guilleux presented the Environmental Award to fifth-generation grower Robin Oakley at a function in Christchurch on August 4.
Oakley's Premium Fresh Vegetables grows potatoes, beetroot, broccoli, pumpkin and arable crops, including grass seed, wheat, peas and maize on more than 450 hectares.
Produce is also washed, graded and packed on site.
The family business was dedicated to "continuous improvement," Oakley said.
In recent years, Oakley took steps to reduce, monitor and manage greenhouse gas emissions, nitrogen leaching and improve soil quality, through initiatives such as the Sustainable Vegetables System Programme.
In April, he installed 564 solar panels at the business' Southbridge post-harvest site, with an eye on power usage.
These 390-watt panels will account for around 40 per cent of the site's annual energy demands.
Oakley was honoured to receive the reward.
"I am proud that our efforts have been recognised by HortNZ and want to share with New Zealanders the good work that is done on our farms."
MG - Market Gardeners Ltd. - Auckland Branch
MG general manager of communications and sustainability, Ellery Tappin, received the award from HortNZ president, Barry O'Neil, at a vegetable growers' function in Pukekohe on July 27.
MG won the award in recognition of its commitment to environmental sustainability, O'Neil said.
"Thanks to MG's focus and investment, the cooperative has made a measurable long-term difference, delivering a 57 per cent reduction in carbon emissions by converting to natural refrigerants, installing solar and diverting food waste away from landfill at its flagship branch in Auckland."
Two years ago, MG signed off on its first sustainability roadmap, which has set the direction and defined improvement targets.
This included focusing on the Auckland branch, having worked out that the bulk of carbon emissions came from electricity consumption, refrigerants and food waste.
As a co-operative, MG had a strong focus on "making decisions today that benefited future generations," Tappin said.
"While the sustainability projects delivered at our Auckland branch have been driven by the MG Board, management and team on the ground, the improved performance is delivered on behalf of the grower-shareholders who own our co-operative."
Ellery said MG was proud that its investment in sustainable projects wasn't just "window dressing".
"Rather, it's making a real, measurable difference."