Commercial Vegetable Growers win Horizons BFEA sustainable land management award

The Horizons Ballance Farm Environment Awards (BFEA) field day was held at the supreme winners farm, commercial vegetable growers Woodhaven Gardens, on 2 December 2020. 

BFEA recognises and celebrates good farm practices which promote sustainable land management.

Horizons Regional Council land manager Grant Cooper says judges were really impressed with the progress Woodhaven had made since they were last judged five years ago.

“They have been prepared to trial new things – some which have succeeded and others failed. They have done this on a small and large scale’” says Mr Cooper.

“One of their big wins has been significantly reducing fertiliser application rates through research and adapting machinery for more accurate application.”

Woodhaven Gardens director Jay Clarke says the journey they have been on to get to their current award winning status started in the late 2000s.

“We started to look at how we could address some of the environmental impact we were having around the farm,” says Mr Clarke. 

“That started with two things; firstly, doing the science and trials around the farm to learn what impact we did have and the major areas of concern; secondly, actively engaging with our community and understanding what their concerns were looking from the outside into our business. 

“We spent a lot of time with environment groups such as the Water and Environmental Care Association, working with local iwi and hapū and the Horowhenua District Council. 

“From this we identified some areas we could tackle immediately, such as sediment in our wash-down water, phosphate control and nitrate management in the paddock to improve our nitrogen losses. 

“The ethos around the business isn’t one of environmentalism it is one of sustainability. Through our collaborative, science-led approach we’re trying to balance economic sustainability while having a positive impact on our community and minimising our environmental impact. 

“We have an important role to play in the horticultural industry. One hundred percent of the 23 different vegetables we grow are consumed in New Zealand.”

In addition to winning the Horizons Regional Supreme 2020 Award Woodhaven Gardens won a further four awards:

  • Hill Laboratories Agri-Science Award
  • Norwood Agri-Business Management Award
  • Synlait Climate Stewardship Award
  • WaterForce Wise with Water Award

Woodhaven Gardens is also the first commercial vegetable grower in New Zealand to achieve the Assure Quality Environment Standard.