Parrish Farm saves resources

Published 11:39 am Thursday, December 15, 2016

Parrish Farms in eastern Lunenburg County recently received an award for its “exemplary conservation practices.”

The award is an annual recognition provided by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (VDCR) to a farm in each of the state’s 10 water basins.

Parrish was nominated by the Southside Soil and Water Conservation District and chosen as the winner for the Chowan River Basin.

Charles Parrish said he runs the farm with his sons, Chip and Ryan. They maintain the 2,400-acre property and practice conservation in several ways.

“We’ve been doing waterways I guess for 30 years or more,” Parrish said, mentioning one of the ways he helps preserve the soil and water on his property.

According to Parrish, sod buffers and waterways carry and trap runoff.

“You’re trying to keep the watershed clean (and) keep the dirt and the filth out of the streams that are going to the oceans and the rivers,” Parrish explained. “That just helps everything and it helps us, too, because it’s maintaining the topsoil on the land.”

The farm has transitioned

from growing only tobacco to include wheat, soybeans, milo and canola.

All the crops, excluding tobacco, are planted no-till. Parish said this has increased the crop yields.

In addition to the crops, the farm supports 800 acres of timberland. This land is managed with select cutting, prescribed burning and spraying after replanting, according to Parish.

A 260-acre portion of the property has been placed under an easement with the Ward Burton Wildlife Foundation. Parish said he regularly invites college classes to the farm and helps students understand the “economic and environmental benefits of best management practices.”

The Virginia Clean Water Farm Grand Basin Awards are presented annually by DCR to farmers or farm owners who are “doing exceptional work to protect soil and water resources,” according to a DCR press release. They are organized in partnership with the state’s 47 soil and water conservation districts.

The 10 winners, including Parish, were invited to the Virginia Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts annual meeting in Roanoke where they received plaques for their farms displaying the award.

“These farms represent the best in conservation farming in Virginia,” DCR Director Clyde Cristman said.

Cristman said they are improving conditions on their properties and conditions for those who live downstream by voluntarily implementing these conservation practices, such as stream fencing, cover crops, riparian buffers and nutrient management plans.