Robin Oakley wins HortNZ Environmental Award for 2022

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05 August 2022, NZ: Robin Oakley, a fifth-generation grower from Canterbury, has won a HortNZ Environmental Award for 2022.

‘Oakley’s is dedicated to continuous improvement,’ said Robin. ‘I am proud that our efforts have been recognised by HortNZ and want to share with New Zealanders the good work that is done on our farms.’ 

Oakley’s Premium Fresh Vegetables grow potatoes, beetroot, broccoli, pumpkin and arable crops including grass seed, wheat, peas and maize on more than 450 hectares. They wash, grade and pack produce on site.

In recent years, Robin has taken considerable steps to reduce, monitor and manage greenhouse gas emissions, nitrogen leaching and improve soil quality, through initiatives such as the Sustainable Vegetables System project. 

In particular, Robin has looked to power usage and installed 564 solar panels at Oakley’s Southbridge post-harvest site in April this year. These 390-watt panels will account for around 40% of the site’s annual energy demands. 

HortNZ has awarded two Environmental Awards this year. 

The other HortNZ Environmental Award for 2022 was presented to MG – Market Gardeners Ltd Auckland Branch – in recognition of its commitment to environmental sustainability, at a vegetable growers’ function in Pukekohe on 27 July.

‘The nominations the HortNZ Board received this year were of a high calibre and for the Environment Award, we chose to recognise two of the organisations nominated, said HortNZ Vice President, Bernadine Balle-Guilleux, who presented the Environmental Award to Robin at a function in Christchurch on 4 August.

‘Where the HortNZ Board determines there are exceptional circumstances and more than one award should be made, we can choose to present an additional award.’ 

HortNZ usually gives out its awards at the annual Horticulture Conference, but the conference had to be cancelled this year due to the uncertainty created by Covid.

‘However, the HortNZ Board felt it was important to celebrate growers’ success in what has been another challenging year,’ said Bernadine.

‘As a result, we have been presenting this year’s awards at various grower events, and will conclude the presentations at the HortNZ AGM in Nelson on 21 September.’ 

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