Green Horizons Turf Farm wins 2022 WV Conservation Farm of the Year
FLATWOODS, W.Va. -- A Jefferson County farm specializing in the marketing and sale of turfgrass sod – while controlling erosion and building organic matter in their soil -- received the 2022 West Virginia Conservation Farm of the Year award during a luncheon Tuesday in Flatwoods.
Farmer J. Ware III of Green Horizons Turf Farm near Kearneysville won the award during the West Virginia Conservation Partnership Conference banquet. He operates the farm with his wife, Andrea, son, August, and daughter, Edy.
The Wares' farm was in the running against Jason Meadows' cow/calf farm at Ripley in Jackson County. (See a family photo of the Meadows family in the bottom photo below.) Both farms have demonstrated a commitment to conservation practices that protect soil, land, water and related resources.
Each year, one West Virginia farm receives the Conservation Farm of the Year honor after winning at the county, district and area levels. Judges visited both farms in late August and graded the farmers on their use of best management practices, impact on ecological systems and community-based activities.
In addition to Green Horizons Turf Farm receiving a $1,000 award, J. Ware also will receive 200 hours, or three months, use of a John Deere tractor from Middletown Tractor Sales in Fairmont, with an option to later purchase the tractor at a discounted rate. Brandon Thomas of Middletown Tractor Sales (MTS) also said each participant in the Conservation Farm of the Year program would be able to receive a 10 percent discount on MTS equipment.
The Wares currently grow and maintain more than 125 acres of turfgrass sod, and the operation is one of only two turf farms in West Virginia. J. Ware III contracts to sell his turf to PGA golf courses and country clubs in the mid-Atlantic region.
He is quick to dispel the idea that sod harvesting strips topsoil. He’s researched and cultivated growing practices that help his crop stand out and contribute to soil conservation.
He notes that topsoil is not removed with the sod, and that the turfgrass sod is left growing until a mature root system has been developed. After the sod is harvested, cover crops or soybeans are planted to build soil structure, replenish nutrients, and control erosion.
The Wares’ operation also includes hay, grain, and beef cattle.
They have implemented agronomic best management practices on their farm, which include rotational grazing of cattle over nearly 88 acres, application of lime on 208 acres, pasture re-seeding, more than 2,800 feet of fencing, water pipeline for cattle, an irrigation system, precision soil sampling on 120 acres of sod fields, and more.
The Wares have been involved in the community and have shared their resources and knowledge, hosting agriculture field days, welcoming agriculture teachers and garden clubs to the farm, and sharing their knowledge and experience with local farmers about forage production, fertilizing and harvesting. J. Ware also serves on the Jefferson County Planning Commission.
Each member of the Ware family contributes to the farm's operation. August, 8, has his own beef herd of seven cattle and planted his own half-acre pumpkin patch, his first, earlier this year.
The mission of the West Virginia Conservation Agency is to provide for and promote the protection and conservation of West Virginia’s soil, land, water and related resources for the health, safety and general welfare of the state’s citizens.