Meadow View Farm near Moundsville in Marshall County wins 2021 WV Conservation Farm of the Year award
SUTTON, W.Va. -- A cow/calf farming operation near Moundsville in Marshall County that has implemented numerous best management conservation practices over 15 years has won the 2021 West Virginia Conservation Farm of the Year award.
The West Virginia Conservation Awards Council presented the award Tuesday to Meadow View Farm, which is owned by Jeff and Janet Allen. The Allens, along with their daughter, Kelsey, have operated their nearly 202-acre Northern Panhandle farm since 2006.
Due to COVID-19, this year’s award was presented during a virtual ceremony. In addition to being named Conservation Farm of the Year, Middletown Tractor will provide the Allens with the use of a new tractor for 90 days or 200 hours of use. The Allens will have the option to purchase the tractor at a discounted price after the 90 days/200 hours of use is up, according to Brandon Thomas with Middletown Tractor Sales.
The Allens’ farm was in the running against the Antram Farm near Hedgesville in Berkeley County, owned by Randy and Shelley Brock and Tyler Butts. The Allens, as well as the Brocks and Tyler Butts, have each shown a commitment to conservation practices that protect soil, streams, water, grasses, wildlife, and other natural resources.
The Allens have re-built nearly five miles of fencing to divide cattle into five pastures, and also to exclude them from getting into streams, forests, and crops. Nearly 4,000 feet of wildlife friendly fencing increases visibility of the fencing to animals to prevent entanglement and injury.
Every three to five days, the Allens rotate the cattle from one pasture to the next. This “prescribed grazing” practice is good for the farmland’s grasses and soils and prevents erosion problems.
The farm also has nine watering troughs that provide cattle with easy access to water in the pastures. A roof runoff system attached to the farm’s winter-feeding facility also supplies water to one of these troughs.
Also, to prevent erosion problems, 4,200 square feet of heavy-use area protection is provided at the winter-feeding facility and at other points around the farm, which prevents soil loss and mud at areas where cattle tend to congregate, feed or drink water.
The winter-feeding facility also has allowed the Allens to reduce hay waste. Before the facility was built, Jeff Allen fed each cow about seven bales during the winter. He has been able to reduce that to 5 and 1/2 bales per cow.
The Allens also use soil samples to help them determine when and how much lime or fertilizer to apply to their fields to improve the grasses and soil.
Over the past 15 years, the Allens have worked with the Northern Panhandle Conservation District, the West Virginia Conservation Agency, the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service, West Virginia University soil scientists, WVU Extension, the state Division of Forestry and others to help benefit their operation.
Jeff Allen said the reason he has implemented best management conservation practices is to preserve the land and maximize what the land can do for his farming operation.
“By doing the right thing for the land, then it pays you back in the other respect, and that’s what we like, to see that,” he said. “And we’re to the point now we’re seeing a pretty big difference in that, from what it was when we showed up here.”
The Allens also are active in their community. Janet Allen is a co-organizer for Ohio Valley Night to Shine, which is a prom for people with special needs ages 14 and older. They are active members of Limestone Presbyterian Church, hosting hayrides and bonfires over the years, and have been active with the Marshall County Fair for many years. Kelsey is currently a member of the fair’s board.
The Allens also have hosted “farm field days” and have found other ways to share what they’ve learned about conservation practices with others, including talking to other local farmers.
The West Virginia Conservation Awards Council is comprised of representatives of the West Virginia Association of Conservation Districts and the State Conservation Committee.