Evergreen was happy to once again host our Awards Banquet to honor some of our local land owners for all of their hard work managing their property and conserving their natural resources. Our dinner and awards once again took place at the Hungry Mother Park Restaurant here in Smyth County. We would like to thank everyone who made it out to help us celebrate all of their hard work and achievements.
This was the second year that we asked for donations from local businesses for our door prizes, we would like to thank them for their support too: L&L Fencing Supply, Tractor Supply in Marion, Army Navy Store in Marion, Smyth County Extension Office, Laurel Springs Farm,
Our 2018 award winners starting with back left: Roscoe Call (Smyth County Board of Supervisors), John LaPrelle, Curtis Rhea (Smyth County Board of Supervisors), Charles Atkins (Smyth County Board of Supervisors), and Darrell Miller. First Row from left: Owen Waller, Jacob Waller, Jersey Waller, Rowan Waller, Kristy Waller, Charles Miller, Karlie Miller, and Melody Miller
Local Clean Water Farm Award
Our local 2018 Clean Water Farm Award went to Pine Hill Farms, located in Groseclose Virginia in the Middle Fork Holston watershed. It is owned and operated by Darrel Miller and his family. They run roughly 50 cow/calf pairs on their farm and have worked very hard to reinvigorate the farm into a profitable business since buying the property. Darrel and his family had to clear out a lot of abandoned VDOT materials and equipment from the property when it was first purchased. After he was able to clear out the small junkyard, Darrel applied for a TMDL contract in 2015. He fenced off a small creek running through the eastern part of his property. they excluded 850 linear feet of streambed and established a 35 foot buffer on both sides. He also was able to fix some erosion issues on the farm by grading and reseeding the worst areas.
Darrel Miller also put in a lot of cross fence to divide the pasture into smaller paddocks to establish an extensive Rotational Grazing Plan. He took soil samples and worked hard to raise his soil quality by spreading lime and fertilizer. He also reseeded his pastures in orchard grass and clover using a no-till drill. He had so much success with his forage quality he decided to apply for a second program in 2017 just to add in more cross fence and extend his existing watering system. He added two more sections of fence to split his two largest fields into two more pastures. Darrell also added in one trough and one hydrant along with the necessary pipeline. The Miller family now has 11 paddocks on 100.2 acres of pasture, including one field used only for hay. They continue to follow their Conservation Plans and Prescribed Rotational Grazing Plan.
Farm Family Award
Waller Dairy was the 2018 recipient of the John Waddle Conservation Farm Family Award. Located in Sugar Grove, Waller Dairy is a first generation Dairy Farm, owned and operated by Jacob and Kristy Waller along with their three children. The Wallers started milking in 2006 and are dedicated to keeping their herd happy and healthy. To be able to obtain this goal they have installed Conservation Practices through the Natural Resources Conservation Services (NRCS). They qualified for a Covered Heavy Use Area with an attached Waste Storage Facility for dry manure. This tremendously helps with their year round management strategies. They also qualified for an Animal Trails and Walkways to cut down on erosion between the milk pallor and other barns. The milk cows are able to stay drier and healthier, thus cutting down their somatic cell count and raising their milk fat percentage and quality of milk. They were also able to plant some trees in a very rocky and eroded area of the farm. The trees help the soil stay stabilized in what was an unusable section of the farm before. Every member of the family has a job on the farm. Their three children help feed and milk the cattle and have been very active in Smyth County 4-H Club and Livestock Club.
The family has just recently opened up new Farm Store and small dinner and ice cream shop where the old Sugar Grove Dinner was located. Once again, the whole family has been involved in this new adventure. They sell local milk, beef, pork, and other processed meats and cheeses as well as local can goods and crafts.
Forestry Conservation Award
This year’s Forestry Conservation Award went to John LaPrelle. The Virginia Department of Forestry has been working with John LaPrelle and his family since the 1980’s. They have completed Forest Management Plans, timber harvesting, and reforestation of harvested areas. More recently, the land has been upgraded to Forest Stewardship Plan. In 2009, the land was entered into a Conservation Easement to restrict development to over 2,700 acres on White Rock Creek.
The LaPrelle family has always shown a great interest in conservation and forest management. This year their land was certified as a Stewardship Forest by the Virginia Department of Forestry.
Friend of Conservation Award
This year’s Friend of Conservation award went to the Smyth County Board of Supervisors. Through their support, Evergreen has been able to provide scholarships to deserving Smyth County seniors for their first year of college. We have also been able to support various county and regional 4-H, Envirothon, and Extension projects. Evergreen has used Smyth County funds to develop a Lime Program for hay and pasture land within the county. The program was stalled out for a few years but has since started back up again with a great response for local farmers. The Board of Supervisors has helped our District continue our mission and goals to serve the farmers of Smyth County and help improve and protect our natural resources.