The owner of a Greenbrier County cow/calf farm won a statewide conservation award Tuesday for implementing best conservation practices on his 74-acre operation in Ronceverte.
D. Frank Masters received the 2018 West Virginia Conservation Farm of the Year award during a luncheon in Flatwoods.
“We’re pleased to honor Mr. Masters, his fellow finalists and all those farmers who go to work with conservation and sustainability in mind each day,” said Brian Farkas, executive director of the West Virginia Conservation Agency. “Our hope is that their efforts and this recognition helps to raise more discussion about why conservation matters for West Virginia.”
Masters will receive $1,000 and 200 hours use of a new John Deere tractor for winning the award. Middletown Tractor Sales of Fairmont donates the use of the tractor.
Frank has installed exclusion fences that block cattle from his ponds, and is planning to add some alternative energy practices on the farm, like solar panels. He’s also installed a geothermal ball trough to supply his cattle with water and is in the process of setting up a high tunnel for growing crops.
Water from the Masters Farm drains into the nearby Organ Cave system, and Frank’s partnership with the West Virginia Conservation Agency has helped to prevent erosion of soil draining toward the cave.
He has taught others what he knows about farming, including his two sons. His eldest son, Jared, is a chef for The Greenbrier and son Jordon started his own produce business in Morgantown in 2015, MicroGenesis, which specializes in microgreens.
He tells those who are interested in farming that with all the conservation knowledge available today, even a small tract of land can be productive and profitable.
For instance, the conservation practices he has implemented with help from partnerships have increased his herd size and his per-acre hay production. Frank also runs the farm while working full time as a licensed professional counselor.
In addition to the Masters Farm, the Conservation Farm of the Year finalists honored Tuesday are: Ward Grass Cattle at Mill Creek in Randolph County, which is operated by James “Jay” Wallace; and the Hunter Family Farm near Ripley in Jackson County, operated by Luke and Mitsy Hunter.
The mission of the West Virginia Conservation Agency is to provide for and promote the protection and conservation of West Virginia’s soil, land, water and related resources for the health, safety and general welfare of the state’s citizens.