Peter Francisco SWCD Awards

Published 4:23 pm Thursday, May 30, 2013

BUCKINGHAM – Peter Francisco Soil and Water Conservation District recently held its annual Spring Awards Banquet at Buckingham County High School. Eighty-seven guests attended the program, which recognized and awarded agriculture producers from Buckingham and Cumberland for their conservation efforts.

The meal, which was sponsored by the PFSWC District, was prepared and served by BCHS Culinary Arts students led by Chef Sandra Hawk.

Conservation Education

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Charity Manis, a teacher at Buckingham County Middle School and founder of the BCMS Ecology Club, was the recipient of the Conservation Education Award for her efforts in educating youth on conservation and environmental issues.

Not only does Manis guide the students on the proper upkeep of the school's landscaping but she also encourages the school and local community to recycle.

Thanks to Manis' enthusiastic commitment and dedication to her students, school, and the environment, BCMS is exemplary in its recycling program.

Each week, the Ecology Club collects the school's used paper for recycling. Through its efforts, BCMS recycles the most paper in the county. The successful program requires the school to utilize a paper barge rather than a regular paper bin.

Forestry Conservation

Kennedy Tree Farm, LLC, of Buckingham, was the recipient of the Forestry Conservation Award.

The Kennedys have been managing pines for almost 70 years on approximately 1,400 acres.

Currently, they have planted 374 acres of loblolly pines, including 75 acres of genetically improved seedlings; performed hardwood brush control on 312 acres; pre-commercial thinning on 93 acres of pines to help reduce the threat of pine bark beetle; and, commercial thinning on 130 acres of intermediate aged pine stands.

Although Jan and Kit Kennedy were unable to attend the awards banquet, they were represented by Bob Warring, their forester consultant, and Houston Lee, caretaker of the property.

Wildlife Conservation

Gerald and June Kay Freeman, of Buckingham, received the Wildlife Conservation Award. Their 149-acre farm is an inviting environment for many species of wildlife. They have been designated a Quail Program Cooperator for their efforts and have participated in the Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program offered by the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

In 2010, Gerald Freeman, along with Doug Ladd, Magi Van Eps and others, formed the Buckingham Bee Club. Gerald is also a member of the Heart of Virginia Beekeepers. As co-founder of the Buckingham Bee Club, he assists first time beekeepers with establishing their own hives.

Clean Water Farm

There were two local winners with one from each county for the 2012 Clean Water Farm Award, which is offered through the Department of Conservation and Recreation, DCR, in partnership with the Peter Francisco Soil and Water Conservation District.

This award is given to producers who are exemplary in their actions as conservation stewards and are implementing agricultural best management practices.

Recipients included Becky and Ernest Bowling, Jr., of Buckingham; and, Marilyn and Roy Watson, Jr., of Cumberland. Each received a blue metal sign proclaiming “2012 Clean Water Farm Award.”

The Bowlings operate Oak Grove, a 54-head beef cattle operation. They have been involved in the Willis River TMDL Program offered through the Peter Francisco District.

The conservation practices installed-stream exclusion fencing, an alternative watering system and cross fencing for rotational grazing-created a more efficient management system for their beef cattle operation.

Cattle have now been excluded from all water sources on the farm. As part of their management system, the Bowlings stockpile fescue through the use of the rotational grazing system, which assists in supplementing their hay supply during the winter months.

The Watsons operate Buck and Game Creek Farm, a poultry and beef cattle operation. They manage 118,000 broilers in five Tyson poultry houses and 400-plus Angus/Charolais cross brood cows.

They have participated in cost-share programs offered through the Farm Service Agency and the Peter Francisco District such as the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program, the Best Management Practices Program and the Willis River TMDL program.

To date, the Buck and Game Creek Farm has utilized five separate projects under the Willis River TMDL program on two properties, fencing the cattle out of two miles of the Willis River and smaller tributaries. They are currently working to develop their sixth project.

With Sincere Thanks

The Peter Francisco Soil and Water Conservation District would like to recognize these producers for their commitment and thank them for all of their hard work toward the conservation of natural resources.

By implementing conservation practices, they are creating an example for others on ways to protect the environment and prolong our rural heritage.