A WINSLOW family's practices at their merino sheep farm have taken out the state's highest regional honour for sustainability.
The Finnigan family's Kia Ora Merino won two accolades at the Premier's Sustainability Awards, one for the best small and medium enterprise and another for overall best regional entrant.
The farm was among 33 nominees across 11 categories, and James Finnigan said the family had not expected to win.
"We thought we might fall through the cracks," Mr Finnigan said.
The farm has changed practices around fertiliser use and waterway protection, but Mr Finnigan said merino wool was also itself a sustainable product.
"One thing that is always interesting to notice, when you walk into a second hand shop there are quite a lot of woolen garments, the reason is it lasts," he said.
Mr Finnigan's parents Brendan and Susan operate the farm, which traces its roots back four generations to central Victoria, and shears 10,000 sheep annually.
Most of the wool is sold to Melbourne markets and exported to Italy, while some is sold to a boutique Australian company.
Mr Finnigan said the award showed that "conventional best-practice farming can be and is sustainable".
"The other main thing is looking at animal welfare and ethics, and that anyone who comes onto our farm respects animals as we do," he said.
"Essentially we want the farm and the business to still be here in 100 years. We've been farming for four generations we want to keep on farming and ensure we pass it on to the next generation in a better state than we got it."
Moyne Shire also recognised Kia Ora Merino earlier this year at the council's Environmental Sustainability Awards.
Mayor Mick Wolfe said the Finnigan's had shown sustainable farming practices were "not only good for the environment" but increased the value of the product.
Colleen Hughson from Good Will Nurdle Hunting was also a finalist in the Premier's Sustainability Awards for removing more than 650,000 plastic nurdles from the region's beaches.
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