The Southern Conservation District is home to this year’s third place winner of the West Virginia Conservation Farm of the Year contest, Daniel Vineyards. The vineyard, owned and operated by Dr. C. Richard Daniel, is comprised of 192 acres and is an excellent example of conservation farming.
West Virginia Commissioner of Agriculture Walt Helmick presented Daniel with an award plaque and a $250 check during the 2013 West Virginia Conservation Awards and Recognition Program in Flatwoods.
“Daniel sets an example to the community through his use of sound conservation practices and is an outstanding representative of conservation in West Virginia. Dr. Daniel has implemented numerous best management practices on his Raleigh County farm; some of these include: nutrient and pest management plans, brush management, micro irrigation and mulching,” Helmick said.
Winters in Raleigh County can be extremely harsh. One of Dr. Daniel’s first challenges when starting the vineyard in 1990 was finding grape vines that could survive these harsh winters. Over the years, he has tried 117 different varieties of grape vines before settling on the 14 he currently grows. These 14 varieties, called cold climate cultivars, are hybrids which he received from Cornell University and the University of Minnesota.
Commissioner Helmick awarded the first place plaque and a $1,000 check to the Grantham family, who own and operate Meadow Green Farm in Jefferson County. The Grantham’s also won 200 hours or four months use of a brand new John Deere Tractor, courtesy of Middletown Tractor Sales in Fairmont. Angelhedge Farm, owned and operated by Keith and Terri Hieronimus, in Marshall County came in second place and received a plaque and check for $500.
The West Virginia Conservation Farm of the Year competition occurred successively on four levels: county, conservation district, area and state. The judges for the West Virginia Conservation Farm of the Year competition were representatives of the following agencies: West Virginia Association of Conservation Districts; West Virginia Conservation Agency; West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection; West Virginia Department of Agriculture; West Virginia Division of Forestry; WVU Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design; WVU Extension Services; USDA-Farm Service Agency; and USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service.