Farm families earn Ohio’s top farm conservation award

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COLUMBUS – Five families joined the exclusive ranks of 106 other Ohio farm families as Ohio’s top conservationists.

The families honored are Walter and Donna Lange of Fulton County; Chase Heyman and family of Huron County; Don Guindon of Belmont County; Don and Gloria Riley of Montgomery County; and Russell and Barb Casper who farm in Highland County.

They were honored at last week’s Farm Science Review for their dedication to natural resource conservation.

The Ohio Conservation Farm Family Awards program, coordinated by Ohio Farmer magazine, is in its 20th year.

“After 20 years, what have we learned?” asked magazine editor Tim White. “Simply this: Conservation works.”

“Ohio is easily the nation’s leader at putting it to work on farms,” White added. “No other state comes close to us.”

Walter and Donna Lange. Walter and Donna Lange own a 56-acre certified tree farm near Swanton in Fulton County.

Cooperators with the Fulton Soil and Water Conservation District since 1988, the Langes have completed a number of conservation practices, including windbreaks to control wind erosion, more than 6 acres of grassed and forested filter strips, tree planting, grapevine control, and wetland restoration.

The Langes have hosted numerous education programs, including the October 2002 Central States Forest Soils Conference.

They both serve on the Ohio Tree Farm Committee and the American Forest Foundation’s Education Committee. Walt was recently elected to the Fulton SWCD Board of Supervisors.

Chase Heyman. Chase Heyman and family operate a 2,778-acre diversified farm in Huron and Erie counties. Crops include soybeans, corn, wheat, popcorn, hay and cabbage.

As cooperators with the Huron and Erie Soil and Water Conservation Districts since 1954 and 1977 respectively, Chase and his son, Kurt, have installed numerous conservation practices, including water and sediment control basins, 11 acres of grassed waterways and 24 acres of grass filter strips.

Conservation tillage and no-till are practiced on all cropland acres.

Chase Heyman has served on the Huron SWCD board of supervisors for more than 40 years; Kurt has served on the Erie SWCD board of supervisors since 1989.

Olney Taber Farm. Donald Guindon manages the Olney Taber Farm for the Olney Friends Quaker High School in Belmont County.

Corn, hay, oats, a 2-acre orchard, 67-acre woodlot, ponds and gardens occupy the 300-acre farm. A 114-head registered Jersey herd is pastured on 100 acres.

The farm, a Belmont Soil and Water Conservation District cooperator since 1956, practices conservation tillage and no-till. Guindon utilizes cover crops, crop rotations, 110 acres of contour strips, and fencing to exclude livestock from streams and woodlands. Pasture stand improvement was recently completed on 8 acres, six additional springs were developed, and a roofed livestock manure facility was installed .

Don and Gloria Riley. Don and Gloria Riley farm 500 acres in Montgomery, Darke, and Preble counties. Major crops include soybeans, wheat, and corn. They also have a 98-acre woodlot.

The Rileys employ numerous conservation practices on his farm, including the installation of grassed waterways, buffer strips and windbreaks to reduce erosion.

Don was member of the Montgomery Soil and Water Conservation District Board of Supervisors for six years, and served as the county’s coordinator for the multi-county Mohler Ditch Project.

Russell and Barb Casper. Russell and Barb Casper operate a 250-acre livestock farm in Highland County.

Cooperators with Highland Soil and Water Conservation District for more than six years, conservation practices include grassed waterways and forested filter strips.

With assistance from SWCD staff, the Caspers developed a Woodland Management Plan that includes livestock exclusion fencing, timber stand improvement, brush pile management, and wood duck and bluebird boxes.

The annual awards are sponsored by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), Ohio Farmer magazine and the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation.

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