On Wednesday December 2nd around 100 visitors attended the Ballance Farm Environment Awards Horizons regional supreme winner, the Clarke family’s Woodhaven Gardens
Originally established in 1978 as a lifestyle choice for Eric Clarke and his son John, a passion to produce the best possible produce was ignited and this family-run commercial growing operation now grows 23 different types of vegetable, as well as maize and ryegrass to improve soil health and reduce nutrient losses. With a focus on producing healthy food for New Zealand, Woodhaven Gardens annually sells 27 million individual vegetable units which is between 7 and 10% of the national supply, employs about 250 staff and contributes between $30–35 million to the country’s annual GDP.
Field Day visitors heard from John, Jay and Emma Clarke about their sustainability journey and Woodhaven’s collaborative, science-led approach to growing that balances conservation with commercial success and details about the practices they have put in place in recent years aimed at significantly reducing their environmental impact.
After returning to the family business a few years ago, Jay Clarke spoke to attendees about his passion for understanding the environmental impacts of their operation to enable striking the balance between minimising environmental impacts whilst ensuring social and economic sustainability. Jay outlined their current environmental priorities including managing sediment and phosphorous loss and reducing nitrate leaching.
New Zealand Farm Environment Trust General Manager James Ryan attended the event along with speakers from Horizons Regional Council, Horticulture New Zealand and Massey University. “It is fantastic to see this significant employer in the region and their operation up close,” said Ryan. “This operation is well and truly on their sustainability journey. It was fascinating to learn more about the lessons they have learned as they tackle a range of business and environmental challenges including goals to reduce waste and greenhouse gas emissions.”
BALANCE FARM ENVIRONMENT AWARDS RECEIVED:
Horizons Regional Supreme Winner 2020
Hill Laboratories Agri-Science Award
Norwood Agri-Business Management Award
Synlait Climate Stewardship Award
WaterForce Wise with Water Award