The Conservation Farm of the Year competition showcases the best examples of farms owned and operated by people who are dedicated to conservation.
Cooperating farms in each county are nominated by their local conservation district and go on to compete at the county, district, area and state levels. Farms are judged on several topics such as resource management, conservation plan, best management practices, cooperator contribution and involvement in the community.
To find out more about the West Virginia Conservation Farm of the Year contest please contact your local conservation district office.
Conservation Farm Award Rules, Regulations, and Evaluation
2015 Conservation Farm of the Year
WVACD President Jim Moore, Tom and Andy Stump of Chimney Hill Farm, WVCA Executive Director Brian Farkas, and SCC Advisory Member Louis Aspey
Hampshire County's Chimney Hill Farm takes top honor, Monroe and Marshall counties also rank high.
Chimney Hill Farm, a 1,060-acre Romney property owned and operated by Tom, Laura and Andy Stump, took home the top honor at the West Virginia Conservation Partnership Conference in Flatwoods on Tuesday, Oct. 27. Receiving Second Place was Meadow View Farm in Moundsville, Marshall County. Morning Mist Farm of Ballard, Monroe County, came in third. A banquet was held to honor all recipients.
To be in the running for West Virginia Conservation Farm of the Year, each farm first had to win at the County, District and Area levels. A panel of judges then toured each of the three farms over the summer and ranked them based on the implementation of conservation plans in conjunction with other community-based activities.
All three farms exemplify the best in conservation practices like grassland management, erosion and sediment control, nutrient management, stream protection and others, said Agriculture Commissioner Walt Helmick.
"These are incredible farms," said Helmick, who also served as one of the ten judges. "They are the best of the best in terms of conservation."
Tom, Andy and Laura's great-great grandfather purchased the property that is now home to Chimney Hill Farm just after the Civil War. It has remained in their family ever since. The Stumps take their roles as farmers very seriously and consider themselves stewards of the land. They run 50 head of cattle on the farm but also have created areas to allow wildlife to flourish.
"There's also many other creatures that live on the farm and they deserve a place also," Tom Stump said. "They have a right to be here. It's a balance and I think we're getting pretty close to being there."
And although West Virginia's 14 Conservation Districts offer a variety of programs to help cooperating farmers pay for conservation-related upgrades to their properties, the Stumps have implemented the vast majority of improvements at Chimney Hill Farm entirely on their own dime.
The Stumps will receive a $1,000 check, plaque and the use of a John Deere tractor for 200 hours.
Meadow View Farm is owned and operated by Janet and Jeff Allen. The Allens have enhanced their farm by implementing numerous conservation practices including rotational grazing, 17 acres of brush management, 9,000 feet of crop fence, 5,500 feet of pasture fence and 8,000 feet of woodland exclusion fence.
Morning Mist Farm is owned and operated by Kenneth and Norma Smith. The Smiths took an overgrown property and transformed it into a productive working farm by implementing conservation practices including 2,000 feet of water pipeline, 1,945 feet of division fence, three constructed ponds, and 770 feet of woodland exclusion fence. They have accomplished all of this in their retirement.
Middletown Tractor of Fairmont, Marion County, will provide the tractor to the first place winner. The locally-owned company is the oldest John Deere dealer in West Virginia and has been in business more than 60 years.
Sponsors for the awards program are the West Virginia Conservation Awards Council (WVCAC) and the state's 14 Conservation Districts.
The Chimney Hill Farm is located in the Potomac Valley Conservation District