Evergreen once again hosted our Awards Banquet at the Hungry Mother State Park Restaurant. We would like to thank everyone who came out to help us honor our award recipients, especially the Farm Service Agency County Committee and representatives from our local government branches here in Smyth County and House of Representatives.
We would also like to thank the businesses that gave donations for our door prizes: Army and Navy Store, Tractor Supply in Marion, Laurel Springs Farm, Chilhowie Fencing Supply, and Smyth County Extension Office. This was the first year we asked for donations from local businesses and it added an extra high note to our banquet
Clean Water Farm Award
The 2017 Clean Water Farm Award went to Laurel Spring Farm. The Laurel Springs farm is owned and operated by Seth and Courtney Umbarger and family. Their first conservation practices were installed back when the farm was a dairy. In 2004 a new Liquid Waste Storage Facility was constructed using both EQIP and BMP funding. The farm implemented an extensive Nutrient Management Plan onto their crop and pasture land using their liquid manure waste. The Umbargers also implemented 42.7 acres into contour strip cropping and 78 acres into crop rotation, cover crop, and no-till, strip-till.
Due to economic pressures within dairy, the family decided to change farm operations from dairy to beef. After a few years their resource concerns needed to be reassessed. In 2012 they qualified under EQIP for a Covered Heavy Use Area with a dry Waste Storage Facility attached. Due to erosion problems, a total of 3,948 feet of Trail and Walkways and 1,216 feet of Access Road were installed.
Since 2004 they have fenced off livestock from 42.1 acres of forested land. They have also fenced off livestock from all surface water on their farm with a total of 11,957 feet of exclusion fence. Through all of their EQIP contracts they have a total of 18 troughs, 2 reservoirs, and 17,060 feet of pipeline. They have a total of 14,270 feet of cross fence and use it to follow a very extensive Rotational Grazing Plan.
They partnered with the Sprouting Hope Garden to plan and plant an organic and sustainable vegetable garden. they started with some small plots and have slowly grown more. Laurel Springs Farm has hosted several agriculture and environmental education days with the Smyth County’s Schools, garden clubs, and other groups. They continue to help educate the public on the importance of their natural resources and what farm to table really means. They have worked to turn part of their old dairy ice house into a farm store where they sell their own farm raised products and other local goods. They also sell at two local farmers markets.
Laurel Springs currently has 230 cows with split spring and fall calving. They raise their own heifers and finish their cattle on the farm before being sold to supplier or slaughtered and packaged to be sold locally. They are continuing their conservation plans and farming for the future.
The 2017 Farm Family Award went to the Terry Farm. In 2015 the Terry family applied for a joint CREP and BMP Project. The farm is owned by Deloris Terry and her sons William and Adam operate it. It is located right off of 107 going towards Saltville in the North Fork watershed.
The Terry Family wanted to exclude their cattle from surface water and needed a more reliable extensive watering system so the cattle could fully access all available pasture. They had two ponds and a spring excluded and a creek and wetland area excluded. They had a total of 2,112 feet of stream excluded and established 4.3 acres of riparian forest buffer in hardwood trees.
They Terry family installed 7,319 feet of pipeline, 8 troughs, a hydrant, a reservoir, and a had a new well drilled. Their cattle now have much more water access and they are able to fully utilize their back pastureland now. They did not have any rock outcropping on the farm, but the soil was extremely rocky. Just digging two feet deep for the pipeline was a challenge and putting in the reservoir was very difficult. They installed almost 9,000 feet of fence to now have 8 paddocks and are able to rotate their cattle between fields for more efficient grazing.
They Terrys have been doing a terrific job following their conservation plans. They are currently farming with 40 cow/calf pairs and are continuing their contracting business too.
Friend of Conservation
Tanya Hall was the recipient of the 2017 Friend of Conservation award. Tanya works at the Hungry Mother State Park as the Chief Ranger Visitor Experience. Tanya leads many hands on activities, nature workshops, hikes, and kayaking tours at Hungry Mother State Park for all ages. She has been an active partner with Evergreen Soil and Water Conservation District in teaching environmental education to Smyth County residents but has also partnered with other Conservation Districts in our area too. She has willingly written the Wildlife portion of Envirothon tests on several occasions and also helped with local and area Envirothon trainings.
Tessa Poston was the recipient for this year’s Conservation Educator. Tessa has played an important role in building a partnership between Marion Elementary School and Evergreen. She teaches 4th grade and has invited Evergreen into the classroom the past three years. We have been able to incorporate hands on watershed lessons that correlate to the Virginia SOL requirements. Students in the class build their own watershed using materials supplied by Evergreen and other resources around them. The students are able to see first hand how their own watershed it affected by topography and pollution. Tessa teaches our youth about the environment around them and the part they play in keeping it healthy.