Birch Hill Station secures three accolades at the East Coast Ballance Farm Environment Awards


  Added 4 weeks ago

  By Hawke's Bay Future Farming Trust

Birch Hill Station secures three accolades at the East Coast Ballance Farm Environment Awards

Embracing the philosophy of "enhancing land and people," the proprietors of Birch Hill Station have clinched three accolades at the recent East Coast Ballance Farm Environment Awards. Ben and Libby Tosswill secured the Norwood Farming Efficiency Award, the NZFET Climate Recognition Award, and the East Coast Farming for the Future Award.

Continuing a generational tradition of farming in Porangahau, Central Hawke’s Bay, the couple is dedicated to producing sustainable food while nurturing the natural surroundings. Their aspiration is for their workforce to regard the farm as their own, empowering them to contribute positively towards its advancement for generations to come.

Ben's parents acquired the station in 1975, and in 2010, he and Libby began managing its operations after purchasing its livestock and equipment. Twelve years later, they assumed ownership. Throughout this journey, they have remained focused on adapting to evolving consumer preferences towards sustainable and ethical meat and fibre production.

Spanning 1300 hectares (720 hectares effectively utilized), their farming methods are meticulously designed to achieve objectives centred on profitability, diversification, and the betterment of both land and people. Their enterprise encompasses sheep breeding and finishing alongside beef breeding and finishing, supplemented by a flexible heifer trading component.

Additional revenue streams are generated through forestry and a luxury glamping venture. Through experimentation and meticulous evaluation of outcomes, Libby and Ben are striving towards an optimal livestock policy and sheep flock that consistently meet production targets.

The judges commended their profound comprehension of water quality management. Extensive efforts have been invested in safeguarding water bodies and wetlands, with regular water monitoring to support these endeavours. Building upon a legacy of environmental stewardship, they have safeguarded an additional 23 hectares of native bush through a QEII National Trust Covenant and are in the process of restoring two wetlands. This translates to their business operating within a backdrop of native trees that provide shelter for livestock and habitats for indigenous species, including a colony of critically endangered native long-tailed bats.

With an emphasis on preserving the natural ecosystem, the approach dopted by this couple appears poised to facilitate the concurrent prosperity of both business and environment in the years to come.

Administered by the NZ Farm Environment Trust, the Ballance Farm Environment Awards advocate for sustainable farming and cultivation. The preeminent recipient from each of the 11 participating regions will be in contention for the Gordon Stephenson Trophy at the trust's National Showcase in Hamilton in June. Those bestowed with the Gordon Stephenson Trophy will serve as the National Ambassadors for Sustainable Farming and Growing in 2024.


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