Awards prime time to reflect on gains

Awards prime time to reflect on gains
Greater Wellington Ballance Farm Environment award winners Rebecca and Richard Tosswill.

When Richard and Rebecca Tosswill talk about their entry in this year’s Greater Wellington Ballance Farm Environment Awards they both say it provided the perfect opportunity to reflect upon what they have achieved over the last 10 years.
The couple’s entry also delivered the potential for future opportunities when they were awarded the Supreme Award along with the Beef + Lamb New Zealand Livestock at the regional awards evening.
“I wanted us to look back at what we had achieved over the last few years,” says Richard. “It’s quite easy to keep chugging on and not see where you have come from and what you have done.”
Rebecca agrees, saying that while the competition is about looking forward there’s the opportunity to look back and celebrate – regardless of how successful you are in the competition.
“By entering the competition you have to tell your story and you don’t often get the opportunity to recite that. To do that you have to revisit what you have done and pick up on all your little wins and say actually we have done quite a bit.”
Reflecting on their win, Richard says that while the judges liked the innovation work that was being done on the farm, a farming friend who attended one of the field days on the farm said a key thing he took away was their commitment to the community.
“I’m chairman of the Ponatahi farm discussion group and The Wairarapa Farming for Profi t Group,” says Richard.
“We’ve also just taken on the Wairarapa Farm Innovation project, establishing and promoting clover on uncultivatable East Coast Hill country. We’re also committed to some campaign work with Farm Strong, so we’ve done quite a bit outside the farm gate.”
Rebecca adds that their regional success was about balance across all channels of our business.
“We try to do things with the community and the people, we have a sustainable financial farm business, we’re doing a bit for the environment and we’re doing a little bit in respect to technology and innovation. So if you were to rate each of those things out of 10 we would hopefully be quite strong across all of those channels.”
Richard and Rebecca, both not quite 40, along with their three children – Isabella 9, Sam 7 and Sophie 4 – farm Te Awaawa, a 646ha hill country sheep and beef farm 25km east of Masterton in the Gladstone area. “We have a Texel cross flock running just under 3000 ewes,” says Richard.
“We mate all our replacement hoggets. We have 100 angus beef cows with 20 replacements and around 200 – 300 trading cattle.”
Going forward, Richard says their success at the awards has put them under the spotlight as people who take pride in what they do and their farm – which may lead to opportunities from farmers looking to lease their own properties in the future.
“We’re keen on diversification and we’re looking at where we could go next. Dairying might be an option.”
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