Ambassador Update

(Published on 30th May 2014)

Sue Brown farms with her partner John Nalder at Ferntown near Collingwood in Golden Bay. Her passion and energy for sustainable farming has seen Sue develop into an influential leader and strong advocate for farmers, reinforcing the benefits of a proactive community approach to land and water issues.

The Landcare Ambassador award came as a result of Sue's tireless work on the highly successful Aorere project. Working with NZ Landcare Trust, her enthusiasm for sustainability and her thoughtful approach to dealing with practical challenges saw Sue become a leading light within the local farming community. The project went on to gain national and international attention, providing a potential transferrable model for rural community input within catchment scale projects.

As you might imagine since receiving the award Sue has not sat on her laurels, her commitment to sustainability is as strong as ever and her ability to represent the local community and dairy industry has grown.

In June 2013 Sue became the Golden Bay Provincial President for Federated Farmers. Sue was humbled to be entrusted with the role but keen to ensure that the focus for the future should be on positive engagement with the community and an emphasis on solutions rather than problems. In addition Sue was an inaugural graduate on the Agri-Women's Development Trust 'Escalator' programme, designed to develop leadership, governance and business skills of dairy women and also a participant in the Fonterra Governance Development Programme. 

Underlining her passion for the local environment  Sue maintains a position on the Nelson Marlborough Conservation Board, a post she has held since 2010 and is again involved in a Sustainable Farming Funded Project - this time about controlling Giant Buttercup, which can pose problems in dairy pastures.

When asked about how the Aorere Catchment Group is doing these days Sue's eyes light up.  While it was a difficult time for Aorere farmers, she says,  "the NZ Landcare Trust, Sustainable Farming Fund project was significant for the Dairy Industry. The community project gave us time and space to understand the science, and then to understand how our volatile north west Nelson weather impacted on the land and water interface."

Sue explained that the real problem on the Aorere is pasture run-off. Two major flood events (2010 and 2011) caused extensive damage, changing the Aorere River, causing sediment and bacteria dynamics to shift which will take several years to flush through the system.

"From those Aorere experiences farmers, Local Council and Industry have all increased their understanding about the importance of community led approaches to catchment management. Such sensible and sustainable outcomes have become more accepted everywhere. This is something we should all be proud of." Sue added.

In a 2013 interview for DairyNZ Sue reflects on her journey through dairy farming and makes valuable observations about the role of women in farming and how a nurturing approach can have a positive influence, especially when it comes to building community capacity... interview here>





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