The Ohio Livestock Coalition bestowed its Environmental Stewardship awards and Neighbor of the Year awards Sept. 4 at the annual symposium in Lewis Center, Ohio.
The dairy award went to Sharp Family Dairy, of Amanda. Don Sharp owns and operates the family’s 75-head organic, grazing dairy.
The dairy farm has taken a number of actions to make their operation more environmentally friendly, including managing and applying manure to the land, installing a settling basin and filter strips to protect soil and improve water quality, and participating in the Grassland Reserve Program and Conservation Stewardship Program to further protect the environment.
The family is active in the local community and has hosted many tours to educate various groups about their farming operation.
The beef award went to Ricketts Farm of South Solon. Ricketts Farm has developed a comprehensive nutrient management plan through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). The farm uses variable rate technology, which allows them to vary the rate of fertilizer application as it is applied on the fields.
In addition, Ricketts Farm protects the land from soil erosion through the construction of grass waterways and water and sediment control basins. The farm also has planted more than 55 acres of native warm season grasses to further prevent soil erosion and filter surface runoff.
The sheep award went to Cynthia Koonce and Duane Miller, of Blue Heron Farm in Lisbon.
Some of the farm’s projects include using a solar-powered water well system, properly managing and applying manure to the land, using minimum tillage practices to protect soil, and controlling weeds by selective timed mowing and active rotational grazing. Through the years, the farm has given tours to neighbors and media representatives, and has hosted events, including the Ohio Sheep Day.
The poultry award went to LeFevre Farms of Fort Recovery. The farm’s projects include developing a comprehensive nutrient management plan through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, properly managing and applying manure to the land, routine manure and soil sampling, using minimum tillage to protect the soil, constructing retention and detention ponds to capture runoff water and irrigate water out in the summer months, and installing grass waterways and filter strips to reduce erosion and further protect the environment.
The swine award went to Shoup Brothers Farm of Smithville.
Shoup Brothers Farm is an eighth-generation farm that raises hogs and grows corn, soybeans and wheat. Conservation projects include: Developing a comprehensive nutrient management plan, properly managing and applying manure to the land, using reduced and strip tillage practices for crop production to protect soil, and installing grass waterways and buffer strips to reduce erosion and further protect the environment.
In addition, the farm works with local farmers and organizations, including the Sugarcreek Watershed Partner to regularly test and monitor streams for nutrient runoff.
The Neighbor of the Year award went to James and Shirley Croskey of Holmesville.The Croskey family operates a dairy farm on the border of Holmes and two neighboring counties. Because the area where the family farms is a popular tourist attraction, the Croskeys take their responsibility seriously to maintain their farmstead and outbuildings at all times.
The family regularly answers tourists’ questions about their farm and farming practices. They also educate individuals and groups about the necessity to “sharing the road” with farm equipment and buggies.
The Croskeys received a plaque and a $250 cash donation to their favorite local charity courtesy of OLC, the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation and Farm Credit Mid-America.
Lucy Sondles of Wadsworth received the Neighbor the Year award (non-farmer).Sondles’ “neighborhood” expands well beyond the limits of her residence. She recently retired as director of Leadership Medina County.
During this time, she strived to make community newcomers feel welcomed; respect the community’s history; learn about the positive aspects of community services, churches and schools; and learn how they can better fit in as contributing members of that positive community.
She serves on several community boards, including Feeding Medina County. For more than 20 years, she has worked with farm families throughout the county and regularly helps organize the annual Ag Day event.Sondles received a plaque and a $250 cash donation to her favorite local charity courtesy of OLC, the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation and Farm Credit Mid-America.