ST. CLAIRSVILLE, Ohio – Ebbert’s Farm Market of St. Clairsville, Ohio has been selected the Conservation Farm Family for 2003 by the Belmont Soil and Water Conservation District.
Family recognized. Jerry and Lova Ebbert and their children, Matt, Jonathan, and Aaron, run the 407-acre operation where they raise 35 acres of sweet corn, three acres of pumpkins, two acres of melons, and five acres of other vegetables.
The Ohio Conservation Farm Family Awards program recognizes farmers who are doing an outstanding job of protecting and conserving soil, water and related natural resources on the land they farm.
Agriculture promotion. The Ebberts’ main objective is to promote agriculture as our nation’s No. 1 industry where they stress conservation of natural resources, farm life and nutrition.
Their philosophy is “God has given us this land to preserve and protect. As His stewards of the earth, it is our responsibility to nurture and enhance the land for the benefit and enjoyment of future generations.”
A legacy. Jerry’s father, Jerome, was a supervisor on the Belmont SWCD board from 1973 until 1987. Jerry continues the tradition, as he has been a cooperator for 20 years.
The program emphasizes the application of technically sound, innovative and cost-effective conservation practices and encourages the sharing of this information with other farmers and the general public.
The Ebberts do this by providing diverse educational opportunities. During the past several years, thousands of students and adults from the tri-state region have toured their operation.
Special programs. One program that they have developed is an intense educational program called Agri-Days. Besides the farm market, it includes a mini-ag classroom program coupled with hands-on agricultural demonstrations.
Milky. A highlight of the program is Milky the Cow, a model cow that students and adults can milk.
Although their objective is to bring students and adults “down on the farm,” they have also taken their program to the classrooms in each of the local school districts.
They have also worked with Farm Bureau, Belmont SWCD, FFA chapters and the local media to tell about agriculture.
The program recognizes the soil and water resource management problems found on the nominee’s farm and how they address them. One of the greatest challenges facing the Ebberts is the production of vegetables on the moderate to steep terrain of Belmont County.
Land use. They use contour strips with field laid out every 30 feet. Every other strip has been sown down in perennial rye grass the preceding fall and maintained as a filter strip.
The strips used this year are moldboard plowed, turning all the soil uphill to offset the downward movement experienced in further tillage and erosion.
The perennial rye grass cover crop is sown as soon as the other crop comes off. The 30-foot strip left for a filter strip will be put into production the next year. This cycle involves nearly 300 strips.
Half of these strips are always fallow. No hay is made on the filter strips. The grass is mowed and left to accumulate organic matter and humus.
Solves other problems. This conservation practice also aids in reducing insect and disease problems. They have installed 50 acres of filter strips and five acres of grassed waterways, as well as maintaining a wetland to prevent soil erosion and protect the water. They have fenced cattle out of their 110 acres woodland, conducted a timber harvest and cleared the undergrowth.
Other conservation practices that they have installed consist of sub-surface drainage, wildlife fencing, drip irrigation under plastic, and a pond refuge for wildlife.
Other conservationists. Five area finalists are selected from around the state. These top conservation farm families will be recognized at a ceremony during the Farm Science Review in September .
The winner will also receive a $400 check courtesy of the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation.
The contest is coordinated by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Soil & Water Conservation.
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