A Monroe County cattle farm, a Berkeley Springs hydroponics-based greenhouse system and a Mason County crop/cattle operation are this year’s finalists for West Virginia Conservation Farm of the Year.
Each year, one farm in the state receives the top honor after first winning at the county, district and area levels. All finalists have demonstrated a commitment to conservation practices that safeguard resources like soil and water. A panel of judges will soon tour each farm and rank them on implementation of those practices, in conjunction with other community-based activities.
The winner, which will be announced at the Oct. 4 West Virginia Conservation Partnership Conference Luncheon in Flatwoods, will take home $1,000, a plaque and 200 hours use of a new John Deere Tractor from Middletown Tractor Sales in Fairmont.
Canterbury Farm, Monroe County
Bill Canterbury drove a lime delivery truck to farms around southern West Virginia for many years. In that time, he took the opportunity to observe and learn about all the different farming practices he saw. After accumulating so much knowledge, he became a go-to for area farmers who had questions about how to manage their farms.
Now retired from truck driving, Canterbury focuses all of his attention on the 660-acre beef cattle farm he and wife Carolyn run in Monroe County. With the help of the Greenbrier Valley Conservation District, the Canterburys have increased grass production by 25 percent on their land. This makes for healthy cows and healthier soil. Other best management practices include 18 water troughs, 4,220 feet of pipeline, 5,126 feet of division fence and 1,833 feet of exclusion fence.
Mock’s Greenhouse, Berkeley Springs
For 13 years, husband and wife Paul and Raynette Mock have operated Mock’s Greenhouse and Farm, a 33-acre, 30-greenhouse hydroponics operation. Located in the Eastern Panhandle Conservation District, Mock’s produces 80,000 pounds of tomatoes, 400,000 heads of lettuce, 150,000 pieces of watercress, 5,000 basil plants and more each year.
Their wholesale purchasers include Whole Foods Market, Wegmans, Hearn Kirkwood and Produce Place. They employ six full-time and eight part-time workers. For six months of the year, they are the largest hydronic producer in the state. For the other six months, they come in second.
They have implemented numerous conservation best management practices, including irrigation systems, pumping plants, a 5,000-gallon storage tank, two 2,500-gallon storage tanks, energy circulating heaters and fans, and 1,940 feet of deer exclusion fence. Efficiency is important to them, and they are always studying different approaches to saving energy and resources.
Yauger Farm, Mason County
Raymond and Mollie Yauger run Yauger Family Farm, which has been in operation for 167 years. The farm – which consists of 745 owned acres and 305 rented acres – produces corn, wheat, soybeans, hay and beef cattle. Their conservation best management practices include no-till, crop rotation, exclusion fencing, alternate water sources and other measures.
In 2011, the Western Conservation District honored the Yauger Farm as a West Virginia Century Farm. Raymond Yauger’s great-grandfather acquired the 900-acre tract in 1849 for $50 and a horse. When he took over operations in 1989, Yauger increased production, implemented crop rotation and added crops like soybeans and alfalfa. He and Mollie have operated Yauger Farm Supply since 1965, making it one of the oldest custom feed and fertilizer farm stores in the state.