Ten farms honored for exceptional soil and water conservation practices
Governor Glenn Youngkin today announced the 10 winners of the Virginia Grand Basin Clean Water Farm Awards for 2022. The awards recognize farmers or farm owners doing exceptional work to protect soil and water resources. One winner is selected from each of Virginia’s major river basins.
“Virginia’s farmers are vital to the Commonwealth’s work to restore the health of streams, rivers and the Chesapeake Bay,” said Governor Glenn Youngkin. “The Grand Basin Clean Water Farm Award winners are among our most innovative stewards of the land and water, and Virginians owe them a debt of gratitude for their outstanding conservation work.”
The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation sponsors the awards in partnership with Virginia’s 47 soil and water conservation districts.
The winning farm owners or operators employ technologies and best management practices that improve water quality. Such efforts include planting cover crops, establishing rotational grazing, installing vegetative buffers along streams and keeping livestock out of waterways.
“It is important to commend these Virginia farmers who are taking important steps to conserve soil and protect water quality on their land,” said Travis Voyles, acting Secretary of Natural and Historic Resources. “By taking action to safeguard our critical natural resources, these efforts benefit all Virginians and protect our legacy of rich, fertile land and productive farms.”
Several of the winners are farms extending several generations. These include Steve and Charlie Smith in Washington County, the seventh generation of their family to run their farm, and the Teel family, whose Clover Green Farm in Albemarle County has been in the family since the late 1700s.
“This year’s Clean Water Farm Award winners represent the best in conservation farming in Virginia,” said Matthew Lohr, Virginia’s Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry. “We are especially proud of — and grateful to — these successful farmers, who are role models helping bring other producers into the best practices fold. They’re showing the Commonwealth that conservation isn’t just good for the environment. It’s good for business.”
“DCR is proud to sponsor this awards program with the soil and water conservation districts,” said DCR Director Matt Wells. “These farms are shining examples of the agricultural community’s commitment to helping Virginia meet its water quality goals. Their leadership in keeping nutrients out of waterways and conserving soil resources is inspiring and helps ensure that their farms will be best-in-class for generations to come.”
Virginia’s soil and water conservation districts offer farmers technical assistance and advice on new technologies and practices to help them stay on the cutting edge of conservation farming.
“District staff and the farmers they work with are dedicated to growth and continuous improvement in practices that enrich our natural resources,” said Dr. Kendall Tyree, executive director of VASWCD. “We’re proud that many of our partnerships with these farms go back decades. We appreciate the opportunity to assist the agricultural community and look forward to continuing to expand these mutually beneficial partnerships that enhance our land and waters.”
For descriptions of each farm, go to www.dcr.virginia.gov/soil-and-water/cwfa-winners.
Big Sandy – Tennessee Rivers
Steve and Charlie Smith, Holston Vista Farm
Nominated by Holston River Soil and Water Conservation District
John Shepherd, Shepherd Grain Farms
Nominated by Piedmont Soil and Water Conservation District
Jim Evans, Evans Farms
Nominated by Eastern Shore Soil and Water Conservation District
The Teel Family, Clover Green Farm LLC
Nominated by Thomas Jefferson Soil and Water Conservation District
The Hudgins Family, DRH Farm
Nominated by Big Walker Soil and Water Conservation District
Karla Evans, Creek Hill Farm
Nominated by Loudoun Soil and Water Conservation District
Jacob & Jennifer Gilley, Heaven’s Hollow Farm
Nominated by Culpeper Soil and Water Conservation District
Brian Hall, IJN LLC
Nominated by Halifax Soil and Water Conservation District
Weldon Heatwole, Cedar Ridge Dairy, Inc.
Nominated by Shenandoah Valley Soil and Water Conservation District
The Sedwick Family, Lakeland Farm Nominated by Culpeper Soil and Water Conservation District