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Palliser Ridge big winner in farm honours

The Palliser Ridge team that won the Regional Supreme Award, from left, Kurt and Lisa Portas, and Jim and Marilyn Law. PHOTOS/REBECCA KEMPTON

GIANINA SCHWANECKE
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South Wairarapa sheep and beef farm Palliser Ridge has gone from strength to strength, taking home the Regional Supreme Award at the Greater Wellington Ballance Farm Environment Awards on Wednesday night.

The two fronds of the award represent farming and the environment.

After 30 years abroad working in corporate services for Mobil Oil, Jim and Marilyn Law returned to New Zealand in 2001 and bought the 1320-hectare [1150-hectare effective] coastal property with sustainability in mind.

Manager Kurt Portas and his wife Lisa were later made part shareholders in the farm and have helped it to diversify.

“We all had the same vision for the farm and what we wanted it to look like,” Jim said.

“There’s been a lot of hard work.”

The farm sells 10 tonnes of lamb’s wool and 20 tonnes of ewes’ wool each year, in addition to marketing honey, lambs’ wool and hand-knitted clothing products used to demonstrate the wonders of wool.

The off-grid accommodation and on-farm tour enterprises also add value to the business and highlight their sustainable management practices.

Stock water sourced from a bore on the Turanganui Plains is reticulated across the entire property and Kurt and Jim have begun a planting programme on retiring old dams and establishing native vegetation.

The judges said they were impressed by Palliser Ridge’s environmental and social stewardship.

Winning lifestyler Geoffrey Glazebrook, centre, presented with his award by Stan Braaksma, left, and Trevor Thompson.

Jim said getting the environmental basics right was something most farmers did.

Working with the judges had helped reinforce what they were doing well on the farm, he said.

“The judges are highly regarded in the farming and environmental world. Our first awards’ experience [six years ago], highlighted and reminded us of areas where we were deficient, and we have since focused on these.”

Palliser Ridge also took home the Bayleys People in the Primary Sector award, which focuses on the all-important people side of farming, the Massey University Innovation award for demonstrating Kiwi ingenuity to solve a problem or create a new opportunity, and the Norwood Agri-Business Management award for successful management practices.

Marilyn said they were “absolutely thrilled” with the win while Jim said he was especially proud of winning the Bayleys People in the Primary Sector award.

“We have a good, enthusiastic team and we believe in good farming.”

It’s been a good week for other staff at Palliser Ridge too – shepherd Henry Smith was named Wairarapa Shepherd of the Year last Friday.

To celebrate, they planned on planting a few more trees and treating the staff to dinner at a Martinborough restaurant to enjoy locally-produced food and wine.

Simon Searle presented with the WaterForce Integrated Management and Dairy NZ awards by Jenny Cameron.

Several other prominent Wairarapa farms were also recognised for their environmental efforts.

Kaiwhata Farm is a 2240-hectare [1700-hectare effective] sheep and beef farm near Homewood overseen by owners Jan and Andy Tatham and cropping and infrastructure manager Aaron Tomlin with his wife Nicola.

They were awarded the Ballance Agri-Nutrients Soil Management award, Beef + Lamb New Zealand Livestock Farm award, Predator Free NZ Trust Predator Free Farm award and Hill Laboratories Agri-Science award.

TSM Farms Limited is a cross-section of talents made up of three Wairarapa families – Tulloch, Searle and Marell – each part of a dairy and dairy support equity partnership.

Simon Searle from their Cornwall Rd dairy farm won the WaterForce Integrated Management and Dairy NZ awards.

Geoffrey Glazebrook was awarded the Greater Wellington Regional Council Akura Conservation Centre Lifestyle Farm/Small Block award for his 4.5-hectare property in Upper Hutt.

The awards night is run by the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust, celebrating sustainable and innovative farmers achievements across the country.

The Regional Supreme winners from 11 regions go on to feature at the Awards’ National Sustainability Showcase in Hamilton on June 6 and are in the running for the Gordon Stephenson Trophy.

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