Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

July 14, 2014

Local farm in the running for West Virginia conservation award

SPEEDWAY — A local farm is now among farms across West Virginia that are competing for a statewide conservation award.

The Southern Conservation District recently announced the winners of the 2014 Conservation Farm Contest. This year the honor has been awarded to the Sun Valley Farm owned and operated by Kenneth M. and Sandra G. Phillips in Mercer County, according to Christi Meador, SCD program coordinator.

The Phillips run a cow and calf grassland farming operation, Meador said. It has a total of 190 acres with 24 cows, 22 calves, one bull, and three horses.

Now that Sun Valley Farm has won its district award, it will be competing for the state award, said Virgil Caldwell, a supervisor in the Southern Conservation District.

“It’s a state contest for the conservation practices you do, and being a good steward of the land,” Caldwell said.

Judges for the Area One Conservation judging will be at the Mercer County farm on July 24, he said, adding he was once in the contest, too.

“I was in the contest before I was in the district, and I won second place in the state in 2004,” Caldwell said. His own farm is at Bent Mountain near Athens.

Judges will be looking at factors such as erosion control, conservation practices with lakes, and use of grass and fertilizer, Caldwell stated.

Many Mercer County farms are a second job for their owners.

“Most farmers have other jobs,” Caldwell said, who once drove a school bus. “They work that (farm) for a hobby and then have a full-time job.’

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