Here’s the story from the Ashland City Times!
Pictured are (from left) Phil Dawson, vice chairman; Janice Weiss, district secretary/technician; Edwin Hogan, member; Darwin Newton, member; David Shores, chairman; Wynne Luter, NRCS; Chase Coakley, NRCS; and Jonathan and Judith Smith. / Submitted photo
The Cheatham County Soil Conservation District hosted a pasture walk and awards day on May 3 at Happily Ever After Farm on Old Clarksville Pike in Joelton (owners Jonathan and Judith Smith).
About 65 landowners were welcomed by district chairman David Shores.
During the pasture walk, attendees were given information on a number of topics by special guests.
Following the pasture walk, the district supervisor’s grilled grass fed beef burgers that came from the Smith’s farm.
After lunch the district announced its “2012 Conservation Farmer of the Year” award winner — Jonathan D. Smith.
About six years ago divine circumstances led to the purchase of his existing farm, which under former ownership the property was used for horse pasture and livestock had unlimited access to the pond and creek, and pastures were overgrazed and compacted.
Smith attended Master Beef Producer classes and became a Master Beef Producer. In 2010, Smith began participating with the Cheatham County SCD and Natural Resource Conservation Service.
Since then they have partnered to produce a Forest Management Plan, which developed management strategies to meet his conservation and economic forest goals.
The district has worked extensively together in the development of infrastructure needed to facilitate a prescribed grazing system.
Practices have included permanent and temporary cross fencing, livestock water well and a solar powered pumping plant, livestock pipeline and watering facilities.
Smith has balanced his livestock stocking rate and rotates his cattle on a one to three day basis so to maximize forage growth. He has taken it upon himself to exclude his livestock from natural surface water sources. His pastures have been inter-seeded with legumes and pollination has been improved by keeping two hives of bees on the property.
A group of layer hens and multiple crops of broiler chickens are rotated behind cattle; a great method for cycling nutrients and producing some healthy chickens.
The culmination of the Smith’s efforts has allowed them to now offer grass-finished USDA certified beef, pastured poultry and free range organic eggs. None of the animals are given antibiotics or hormones. Farm management practices follow organic guidelines.
The Smiths believe firmly in the principle of growing healthy natural foods. Smith has recently applied for the USDA-NRCS Conservation Stewardship Program in an effort to further improve his farm.
The Cheatham County SCD also announces the election of Darwin Newton of Pleasant View to the district board.
Newton has a bachelor’s degree in agriculture and biology and a master’s degree in plant physiology. He is currently employed by Western Kentucky University, working with the university and USDA Agriculture Research Service in animal waste management research and is the president and CEO of Soil Search of Tennessee Inc. (Enviromental Consulting Company).
The following sponsors made this day a great success: Cheatham County Farm Bureau, H & R Agri-Power, Reeves Septic Tank Service, King Automotive, Tennessee Ag Enhancement, Natural Resource Conservation Service, UT & TSU Cheatham County Extension and the Tennessee Department of Agriculture.