Home Nine Virginia farms receive 2023 Clean Water awards for efforts to protect soil, water
Environment, Virginia

Nine Virginia farms receive 2023 Clean Water awards for efforts to protect soil, water

Rebecca Barnabi
Shenandoah River Basin winner Justin Schmidt of Rockingham County is presented with a 2023 Clean Water Farm Award. Courtesy of DCR.

Nine Virginia farms which demonstrated exceptional commitment to practices that protect the soil and water have been recognized as grand winners of the 2023 Clean Water Farm Awards.

The awards recognize farmers or farm owners, one from each of Virginia’s major river basins, doing exceptional work to protect soil and water resources.

“We celebrate and appreciate these award recipients, who are truly dedicated to sustainable farming and serve as role models for others across the commonwealth,” Secretary of Natural and Historic Resources Travis Voyles said. “Their commitment to improve the health of Virginia’s river basins by implementing best management practices is inspiring, and future generations will benefit from their stewardship of the land and natural resources.”

The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation sponsors the Grand Basin Clean Water Farm Awards each year in partnership with Virginia’s 47 soil and water conservation districts. Individual soil and water conservation districts select local Clean Water Farm Award winners in the state. Awards were presented December 4, 2023 during the Virginia Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts annual meeting in Norfolk.

The winning farm owners, producers or operators employ technologies and best management practices that improve water quality. Efforts include keeping livestock out of streams and rivers, planting cover crops, instituting rotational grazing and adding vegetative buffers along waterways.

“These Grand Basin award winners, representing all regions of the Commonwealth of Virginia, are on the forefront of agricultural practices that protect one of our most precious resources: water quality,” said DCR Director Matt Wells.

Virginia’s soil and water conservation districts offer farmers technical assistance and advice on new technologies and practices to help them stay on the cutting edge of conservation farming.

“District staff and the farmers they work with are dedicated to continually improving practices that enrich our natural resources,” Dr. Kendall Tyree, executive director of VASWCD, said. “We are proud of our partnerships with these farms, many dating back decades, and appreciate the opportunity to assist the agricultural community while expanding these mutually beneficial partnerships that enhance our land and waters.”

2023 Grand Basin Clean Water Farm Award recipients

Big Sandy – Upper Tennessee River
Greg Meade
Lazy M Farm, Tazewell County
Nominated by Tazewell Soil and Water Conservation District

Shelton Alley
Shelton Alley Farms, Northampton County
Nominated by Eastern Shore Soil and Water Conservation District

James River
John Bryant
Old Tavern Farm, New Kent County
Nominated by Colonial Soil and Water Conservation District

New-Yadkin River
John Fant
Summerfield Pastoral Farm, Grayson County
Nominated by New River Soil and Water Conservation District

Potomac River
Justin and Casey Wisch
Long Stone Farm, Loudoun County
Nominated by Loudoun Soil and Water Conservation District

Rappahannock River
John Paul and Mollie Visosky
Locust Dale Cattle Company, Culpeper County
Nominated by Culpeper Soil and Water Conservation District

Roanoke River
Tim Alderson
A-Plus Farms, Pittsylvania County
Nominated by Pittsylvania Soil and Water Conservation District

Shenandoah River
Justin and Kristi Schmidt
Rockingham County
Nominated by Shenandoah Valley Soil and Water Conservation District

York River
Fred Massie and Peter Massie
Louisa County
Nominated by Thomas Jefferson Soil and Water Conservation District

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.