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West Wind Farm places in top 10

Mark Palmer

Mark Palmer, owner of West Wind Farm, Chowan River, was nominated by the Southside Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD)and placed in the top 10 to receive the Virginia Clean Water Farm Grand Basin award presented each year to farmers or farm owners who are doing exceptional work to protect soil and water resources. One winner is selected from each of Virginia’s 10 major river basins.

Palmer is a longtime farmer and conservationist. In 1981, he established West Wind Farm in Lunenburg County and today raises cattle and crops on the 313-acre farm. Cattle are excluded from 4,000 feet of stream and rotate among seven pastures. Pastures are dragged for manure distribution, and feed troughs are rotated to prevent disease and erosion.

On West Wind Farm 75 acres of cropland are planted with cover crops and sod waterways and buffers carry excess water and trap loose sediment that borders woods, roads and irrigation ponds. Grain crops are planted with a no-till drill.

Palmer also manages 145 acres of planted pines and hardwoods for wildlife and timber use.

This year Palmer celebrates 31 years of service to the Southside SWCD Board of Directors. He practices what he preaches and promotes best management practices within the farming community.

The awards are sponsored by the Virginia Department of Conservation (DCR) and Recreation in partnership with Virginia’s 47 soil and water conservation districts. Awards were presented recently in Norfolk during the annual meeting of the Virginia Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts.

“These farms represent the best in conservation farming in Virginia,” DCR Director Clyde E. Cristman said. “The producers are enhancing their operations and improving conditions for people downstream by voluntarily implementing practices such as stream fencing, cover crops, riparian buffers, nutrient management plans and more.”

“Virginia’s soil and water conservation districts are honored to work with these producers who have made long-term commitments to practices that protect Virginia’s natural resources,” said Dr. Kendall Tyree, executive director of the Virginia Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts. “Through field days and other on-the-farm activities, many are also helping to educate local residents about agriculture and the environment.”