[caption id="attachment_29965" align="aligncenter" width="935"]<img class="size-full wp-image-29965" src="https:\/\/mountainmedianews.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/sites\/13\/2017\/10\/Monroe-County-Farm-takes-top-conservation-honor-PIC.jpg" alt="" width="935" height="1050" \/> Little Brown Cow Dairy Farm is owned and operated by Aaron and Tara Helmick and received top honors.[\/caption]\r\n<h1>Winners of the 2017 West Virginia Conservation Farm of the Year were recently announced at the West Virginia Conservation Partnership Conference in Flatwoods. Top honors went to Little Brown Cow Dairy Farm, second place went to Family Roots Farm, while Carr Farm took third.<\/h1>\r\nLittle Brown Cow Dairy Farm, a certified organic grass-based dairy in Hans Creak Valley of Monroe County, is owned and operated by Aaron and Tara Helmick. The Helmicks have been in business since 2010 and occupy approximately 425 acres of leased or owned land. They milk approximately 150 jersey crossed cows.\r\n\r\nFrom the beginning, the Helmicks have paid attention to the overall environmental health of the property while striving to maximize productivity and profitability. Each decision they make is based on these principles.\r\n\r\nWith the help of the Greenbrier Valley Conservation District (GVCD), the West Virginia Conservation Agency (WVCA) and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), the Helmicks have participated in various cost-share programs implementing conservation practices such as exclusion fencing, pipeline and water troughs, nutrient management, cover crops and riparian buffers.\r\n\r\nAaron and Tara have three children, Andrew, Lainey and Graham. Little Brown Cow Dairy Farm will receive a $1,000 check, a plaque and 200 hours use of a John Deere tractor from Middletown Tractor Sales in Fairmont.\r\n\r\n\u201cAll three of the farms exemplify the best in conservation practices, and the competition was very close,\u201d said West Virginia Commissioner of Agriculture, Kent Leonhart. \u201cThe fact that three diverse farms were so close speaks well of the conservation programs being implemented in the state of West Virginia and speaks to the unity that\u2019s developing in our state. It\u2019s a real privilege for me to be the commissioner of agriculture and the chairman of the state conservation committee because such great things in conservation are happening in our state.\u201d\r\n\r\nThe West Virginia Conservation Awards Council (WVCAC) honored this year\u2019s recipients at an awards luncheon during the West Virginia Conservation Partnership Conference in Flatwoods.\r\n\r\nTo 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 consisting of Commissioner Leonhart and officials from WVCA, NRCS, Farm Service Agency, State Conservation Committee, West Virginia Division of Forestry, West Virginia University Extension Service, and WVU\u2019s Davis College of Agriculture Natural Resources and Design, toured each farm over the summer and ranked them based on the implementation of conservation plans and community-based services.