Farmers in Ellesmere are leading the way in many key areas discussed at a National Catchment Forum earlier this month.
Several committee and staff members of Ellesmere Sustainable Agriculture Inc (ESAI) attended the conference in Wellington which confirmed the organisation was focused in the right areas, and gained new ideas and inspiration for the future.
“The forum was one of the most engaging, educational and inspiring events I have attended,” said committee member Jo Benny.
She added that forum made the attending ESAI members feel proud of the group’s achievements and what the Tinaku Project and ESAI farming members have accomplished.
“We should pay tribute to those in our community who had the foresight to start a group and then keep it going,” said Benny.
“I know the beginnings came from regulatory concerns, but it came from a place of farmers helping farmers – the best way to implement change and build resilience in our community”.
While ESAI and its landowners can feel proud, the attending team from Ellesmere were quick to regroup and start thinking about new goals for the years ahead.
The Tinaku Project has unquestionably made many positive changes in the Ellesmere area with the funding provided by Ministry of Primary Industries’ Jobs for Nature programme, but ongoing funding will be vital to maintain momentum.
“Farmers are faced with an increasing amount of regulations and demands, so we need to support them through these challenging times,” says chairman Tim Chamberlain.
“That was the reason to create ESAI two decades ago and with the emission announcement, water consents and Freshwater Farm Plans, the need for this support is probably greater than ever before.”
Chamberlain says that climate change is at the centre of many issues and debates that impact the landowners in Ellesmere and ESAI wants to lead that debate by creating a less divisive language and looking for solutions that will help the entire community.
Chamberlain says the group will also explore where exactly the emissions tax dollars are being used.
“If ESAI can get access to some of those funds, we may be able to continue or expand the amazing work we have already done to improve biodiversity and water quality.”
Tinaku staff and ESAI committee members also attended the Ellesmere Spring Show on the 15th of October having a site with displays and photos to provide members of the public a chance to find out about all the work the group are doing in the local area.
There was plenty of interest throughout the day and many were drawn to the marquee for the colouring competition and complimentary tea and coffee. This created an opportunity for lots of conversations and information sharing and a chance for people to meet staff from Pest Free Banks Peninsula and the Whakaora Te Waikekewai group who shared the space with ESAI.
Feedback from the day was very positive, there were around 50 entries for the colouring competition and over 25 people signing up for the ESAI newsletter.
“It was just a great opportunity to speak with lots of people, answer questions, talk about the project and let people know about the work that’s been happening, not just what we are doing but also other groups in the area too. It was a really fun day,” said Jo Fearn, Tinaku Extension Project Coordinator.