Ellesmere Sustainable Agriculture Inc (ESAI) was this week recognised with a Gold Award for its ground-breaking environmental accomplishments during the Selwyn Awards ceremony.
ESAI is a volunteer, farmer-led organisation that has grown from a small gathering of environmentally aware and innovative farmers to be nationally recognised as a major player in environmental sustainability within the New Zealand agricultural sector.
“This award is a wonderful recognition by our wider community for all the hard work our volunteers and their predecessors have put in over the past 20 years,” says chairman Tim Chamberlain who received the Gold Award at a gala dinner in Lincoln which was attended by 450 representatives from businesses and community groups.
The chairman says the award is a welcome recognition that the community values its waterways being enhanced.
“The award is timely as our flagship Project Tinaku is in full swing with nearly 50 regeneration initiatives around the district either completed or in the planning phase,” says Chamberlain.
With funding from MPI through the Government’s Jobs for Nature programme, Project Tinaku has supercharged ESAI’s efforts to address environmental issues like water quality, riparian management and environmentally sustainable farming practices.
“It is a privilege ESAI was chosen by MPI for funding this essential work valued by all,” says Chamberlain who provided an update to ESAI’s 110 farmer members at their Annual General Meeting in Leeston.
“The AGM was a great event to look back at the major leap forward we have made, as well as celebrating our Selwyn award and to let our members know about the exciting projects we are working on.”
Almost 40 people attended the AGM at the Lakeside Soldiers Memorial Hall to hear about Project Tinaku and the group’s involvement with submissions to district planning and input into proposed new freshwater regulations and related compliance legislation.
“The planting and regeneration projects are the most visible part of our work, but ESAI was initially formed to help Ellesmere farmers deal with the complexities of increasing compliance and we are recognised at a local, regional and national level as a well-informed and innovative farming collective,” says Chamberlain.
The AGM hosted third-generation fisherman Mike Pullan as their guest speaker. Mike explained how the commercial fishery on Te Waihora Lake Ellesmere is managed under a quota system and provided fascinating insight into the life cycles and habits of the three species of flounders, and two species of eels, mullet and the diverse range of other fish that inhabit the lake.
“We thought it would be nice to hear from Mike, who is someone who is impacted by choices landowners make further upstream, so helpful for our members to see that others appreciate the restoration work they do on their farms.”