WALNUT CREEK, Ohio – For the Bob Hunter family, conservation is a heritage that has been passed down from generation to generation, just like the 150-acre farm, known as Ancestor Acres, that has been in the family since 1875.
The farm is a certified tree farm with an intensive woodland management plan including practices such as crop tree release projects on 80 acres of woodlands and planting about 50,000 trees over the years, beginning with a reforestation project in the 1930s.
As a teacher, Hunter uses his farm as a site for conservation field trips for students in grades three through six.
The Hunters have also remodeled Bob’s aunt’s house into a bed and breakfast and have constructed a log cabin from pines salvaged from a major ice storm that hit the county three years ago.
For these reasons, the Holmes Soil and Water Conservation District named the Hunters and Ancestor Acres the 2007 Conservation Farm Family Cooperator of the Year.
Farm tour. Another highlight of the Holmes annual meeting is the recognition of the winners of the Tom Graham Fifth Grade Conservation Farm Tour.
This year, the winners were Alison Sprang, Luke Hochstetler and Christopher Sprang.
Jerry and Gloria Miller and family hosted the tour this year. The Millers operate an organic dairy farm.
The district presented their Friend of Conservation Award to board member David Woodring. Woodring is retiring from the Holmes County Soil and Water Conservation District board of supervisors after serving since 1996.
He has also served as the fiscal agent as well as a forestry resource person, assisting with the fifth-grade farm tour, Arbor Day tree plantings, forestry field days, forestry camps and forestry training programs.
Following a career as a service forester, Woodring has been a natural resources teacher in East Holmes school district for 22 years.
He also manages his own tree farm and has hosted forestry classes for the district.
Programs. During the meeting, district cooperators learned about the various programs the district has completed during the year. One of the highlights of the year is the Alpine Cheese Nutrient Trading project.
The Alpine Cheese Company has committed $500,000 over the next five years to fund conservation practices and staff in the district to benefit the Sugar Creek Watershed. The result is 5,500 credits toward the reduction of nutrients in the Sugar Creek Watershed by 2011.
As part of the project, farmers have completed feedlot improvements, stream crossings, installed heavy use pads and milk house discharge tanks.
Speaker. Gary Mast, USDA deputy under secretary, Natural Resources and Environment, was the featured speaker.
Mast highlighted some features of the farm bill including better crop insurance provisions, help for new farmers and increases in funding for conservation and rural development.
Elected to the board of supervisors were Harold Neuenschwander and Jason Schuch. Neuenschwander is the owner of Harold’s Equipment. Schuch is the farm manager at Sweet Breeze Farms and Excavating.