Bedford and Nottoway County farmers honored for environmental practices

Sam Gardner of Bedford County and John and Lydia Shepherd of Nottoway County have been named winners of this year’s Virginia Farm Bureau Federation Young Farmers Environmental Stewardship Award.

They were honored at the VFBF Young Farmers Summer Expo in Franklin. The award recognizes the efforts of young producers who work to protect natural resources. This is the first year it has been given to more than one participant.

Gardner is president of Gardner Heifers Inc., a 600- to 800-head dairy replacement heifer operation serving clients in Virginia and Maryland. He and his family have made numerous enhancements on their farm to reduce soil and roadway erosion, keep cattle out of streams, manage manure and implement drainage projects and rotational grazing.

The Shepherds have maximized the usefulness of their rented farmland by turning previously overworked and heavily eroded tobacco parcels into production grain land with grassed waterways, buffer strips and no-till propagation.

Gardner and the Shepherds will receive $500 and commemorative plaques from Bayer CropScience, and outdoor signs recognizing them for good environmental stewardship to display at their farm entrances. They also will receive travel packages to the 2011 VFBF Annual Convention in Norfolk and the 2012 VFBF Young Farmers Winter Expo in Leesburg.

With nearly 150,000 members in 88 county Farm Bureaus, VFBF is Virginia’s largest farmers’ advocacy group. Farm Bureau is a non-governmental, nonpartisan, voluntary organization committed to protecting Virginia’s farms and ensuring a safe, fresh and locally grown food supply

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