Evan and Linda Potter have been awarded the NZ Landcare Trust Award for Innovation in Sustainable Farm Forestry. This esteemed recognition highlights their exceptional contributions to sustainable practices at their property, Waipapa, in the Elsthorpe district of central Hawke’s Bay.

The Potters have been dedicated to the principles of good farm forestry for many years. Their farm spans 725 hectares, with 560 hectares dedicated to effective farming and 120 hectares conserved as QEII Trust native blocks. Additionally, 42 hectares are used for commercial and mixed-species forestry. Waipapa’s diverse and challenging soil structures, including erodible mudstone and fractured pan, add complexity to their farming efforts.

 The Potters have experimented with various tree species on difficult sites, including cypress, redwoods, eucalypts, and natives. Their commitment to sustainability is evident in their practice of fencing off highly erodible land and planting native seedlings. Their fully functional tree nursery, established from scratch, sources native seeds from bush areas on their property, planting around 2,500 native seedlings annually. Innovative weed control methods, including release spraying and sheep dags, support their eco-friendly approach. 

Their willingness to embrace change is evident in their strategic move to allocate 100 hectares from protein production to farm forestry, with minimal reduction in livestock numbers. This shift is part of a meticulously researched and documented forest plan, developed with expert consultancy to ensure sustainability. The Potters’ integration of commercial planting and registration in the Emissions Trading Scheme has created a sustainable funding model for the management of their forestry blocks.

The Potters’ innovative and sustainable practices have previously earned them numerous accolades, including the Elworthy Environmental Award in the Deer Industry (2016), the Ballance East Coast Regional Award, the Ballance Supreme Environmental Award (2020), and the Gordon Stevenson Trophy. Their designation as National Ambassadors for Sustainable Farming and Growing further underscores their leadership in sustainable farming. 

The NZ Landcare Trust Award for Innovation in Sustainable Farm Forestry is a testament to Evan and Linda Potter’s dedication to creating a harmonious balance between agricultural productivity and environmental stewardship. Their achievements serve as an inspiring model for sustainable farm forestry practices across New Zealand.