The Ohio Department of Agriculture on Thursday recognized five families representing each region of the state as winners of the 2016 Conservation Farm Family Awards at the Farm Science Review in London. This was the 33rd year of the awards program.
“Farmers were the first conservationists, and to this day the conservation efforts they employ will allow the land to be the most productive it can be to provide food, fiber and fuel for generations to come,” said Ohio Department of Agriculture Director David Daniels. “I am proud of each of these families for being good neighbors, handling the land with care, and helping to responsibly keep food and agriculture a top ranking industry in Ohio.”
The five families honored were: Tim and Sandy Shoemaker and Howard Grabill of Highland County, Robert Lill of Marion County; Justin and Lowell Wolff of Medina County; Edward and Karen Bay of Guernsey County; and William and Shauna Wilkins of Miami County.
The Shoemakers and Grabill of Millstone Creek LLC farm more than 100 acres in Highland County. They raise beef cattle.
Millstone Creek farm has been a cooperator with the Highland Soil and Water Conservation District for 26 years. The Millstone Creek farm property was donated and accepted into the Ohio Department of Agriculture’s Farmland Preservation Agricultural Easement Donation program in 2004. The conservation practices used on the farm include: grass filter strips, exclusion fencing, pipeline, watering facilities, access roads, feeding pads, and pasture planting. The farm has hosted education events, such as a pasture management grazing school, kindergarten agriculture day tour, Highland County Farm Tour, and was part of an agriculture week celebration with the director of Ohio Department of Agriculture. Millstone Creek was also part of a National Grazing Lands Coalition grant, which helped to promote soil health, and emphasized the importance of managed grazing as a key component to meeting Ohio’s water quality goals.
When asked about their conservation philosophy, the Shoemakers said, “We strive to leave the environmental resources under conservation stewardship in good condition for the next generation and will continue to model conservation in a positive way to preserve their way of life.”
The Shoemakers and Grabill provide an outstanding example of how to incorporate conservation practices that contribute to an environmentally and economically sound operation.
“Each of the five farming families we recognized operates in a different geographic area of Ohio, with differing acreages, soils, and topography,” said Kirk Hines, chief of the department’s Division of Soil and Water Conservation. “They each have a unique mixture of crops and livestock. Each farm has its own management challenges and goals. They share a common commitment to conserve natural resources; the soil, water, woodlands, and wildlife on the land they farm. Every farm and family is unique, but conservation is the foundation of their livelihoods.”
Since 1984, the Conservation Farm Family Awards program has recognized 171 Ohio farm families for their exemplary efforts conserving soil, water, woodland, wildlife and other natural resources on the land they farm. Conservation farm families also host a variety of educational programs, opening their farms to schools, scout groups, farm organizations and others.
In addition to receiving $400 each from the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation, the families were also featured in the September issue of Ohio Farmer magazine and received plaques from ADS Hancor Inc. Ohio Farmer magazine has sponsored the Ohio Conservation Farm Family Awards since the program’s inception. Nominations are sought annually between January and May, and Ohio farming families are encouraged to apply. For more information or to apply individuals can contact their local Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD).
Submitted by Ohio Department of Agriculture.