The Pennsylvania Association of Conservation Districts, in conjunction with the Department of Environmental Protection, recently presented the operators of four farms with the Clean-Water Farm Award during its annual conference in Lancaster. The honor is awarded annually to farmers who manage their daily farm operations in an environmentally conscious manner that helps to protect Pennsylvania’s water quality. DEP has sponsored this award for the past 32 years. Recipients receive a certificate signed by the DEP secretary and a large award sign to erect on their property.

The 2018 Clean Water Farm Award Recipients are:

Ed Chianese (Susquehanna County): Ed Chianese owns a beef farm in Susquehanna. The farm has 80 acres of cropland and 25 acres of pasture. Best management practices include diversions, grassed waterways, 2.7 acres of riparian buffers, and 1,000 feet of streambank fencing. Future plans include more pasture work by installing subsurface drainage to collect water for two water troughs, underground outlets, and livestock water pipeline.

Justin and Doreen Geisinger, Air Hill Acres Farm (Franklin County): Justin and Doreen Geisinger own Air Hill Acres Farm in Chambersburg. The farm has 70 beef and 40 dairy cows on 135 acres of pasture. Air Hill Acres is an organic, 100 percent grazing dairy that also custom raises steers. Best management practices include rotational grazing, concrete manure storage, stream crossings, livestock fencing, and a grassed waterway. The Geisingers host many farm tours and pasture walks and were featured in a YouTube video on soil health.

Will and Kelly Smith, Deep Roots Valley Farm (Berks County): Will and Kelly Smith own Deep Roots Valley Farm in Mohrsville. The beef, hog, and poultry farm has 95 acres of pasture. Best management practices include animal walkways, rotational grazing, and riparian buffers. The conservation district said, “The Smiths have shown their hard work, dedication, and willingness to research. They have gone above and beyond, creating a sustainable farm for their family, their community, and the environment.”

Dave Pounds (Indiana County): Dave Pounds and family own a 101 acre beef cattle farm in Marion Center. The farm has 16 acres of rotational grazing pasture, with 35 acres of mostly hayland, and over 20 acres of Conservation Reserve Program land. Best management practices include grassed diversions, contour farming, stream crossings, and over 35 feet of riparian buffer on all stream corridors. The conservation district said, “Dave Pounds has allowed many local and regional farmers, agency personnel, and elected officials to tour his farm for educational purposes. He is an incredible wealth of knowledge and takes the lead when explaining the management of his operation, as well as, explaining how the BMPs on his operations function to improve water quality.”

The Clean-Water Farm award was initiated in 1986. Recipients of the award are nominated by their local county conservation districts.

Financial support for this award is provided by the Department of Environmental Protection through the Chesapeake Bay Regulatory and Accountability Program and the PA Chesapeake Bay Education Office administered by the Pennsylvania Association of Conservation Districts, Inc..