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Stamps Receive NYS Ag Environmental Management Award
New York Ag Connection - 08/09/2018

New York State Wednesday congratulated Lakewood Farm and Lakewood Vineyards, located in Watkins Glen, Schuyler County, as the recipient of the 2018 State Agricultural Environmental Management (AEM) Award. Each year, the award honors a New York State farm for its outstanding efforts to protect the environment through the preservation of soil and water quality and ensure the next generation of farming. This is the first time a New York State vineyard has been recognized with this long-standing award.

New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, "Congratulations to Lakewood Farm & Lakewood Vineyards, the Schuyler County Soil and Water Conservation District, and all of our nominees, who have gone out of their way to care for the environment while increasing the profitability of their operations. The steps these farms have taken to protect our most precious resources are making an significant impact today and will benefit New York for generations to come."

The Department, the Empire State Potato Growers, and the American Agriculturist Magazine presented the award to the Stamp family for implementing conservation best management practices that benefit the environment and protect the community. The award was presented at the annual Empire Farm Days event in Seneca Falls.

David Stamp said, "We're very honored to receive the award. I'm just carrying on what was instilled in me growing up. We've got to take care of the land to reap its rewards. We've worked with Soil and Water over the years to help implement a lot of projects. We've always had good people there, and I'd say their current crew is among the best. We always seek their advice because it's good advice."

Lakewood Farm and Lakewood Vineyards has implemented various practices to address issues that will improve soil health and protect water quality in neighboring Seneca Lake. That includes cover cropping with fast-germinating rye and mulching hay, both of which stabilize soil, replace nutrients and retain moisture in the ground.

Since 1951, the farm has grown from 52 acres to 85 acres while cutting its pesticide use nearly in half with a weather station that's connected to Integrated Pest Management data and the use of regulated flow sprayers with reduced drift nozzles. The Stamps have reduced erosion and helped protect Seneca Lake -- a highly-rated drinking water source -- from pollutants in storm water runoff with clean water diversions and permanently vegetated buffers.

The farm was one of the first to compost grape pomace with horse manure to create fertilizer and build organic matter into the soil. Today, the award-winning winery boasts 15 grape varieties and 100,000 gallons of production.

Lakewood has worked closely with the Schuyler County Soil and Water Conservation District, which provides technical assistance to advance agricultural environmental management practices within the county. In the last 10 years, the Schuyler County Soil and Water Conservation District has secured nearly $16 million in funding for agricultural projects. That includes miles of lined waterways for erosion control, clean water diversions and grassed waterways, among other protective measures.

Since 1940, the District has been working to conserve and enhance natural resources in Schuyler County through education, planning and implementation, addressing issues like improving water quality, the prevention of soil erosion and the management of natural resources.

Schuyler County Soil and Water Conservation District Manager Jerry Verrigni said, "Working with the Stamp family is always a pleasure. You know any project you are building on the farm will be utilized and maintained to ensure the integrity of the project. You also know that, while the Soil and Water Conservation District is assisting with one project, the Stamps themselves are working on several other projects. This is because the Stamp family truly believes in protecting natural resources and making their farm better for the next generation."

NYS Soil and Water Conservation Committee Chair Dale Stein said, "We should be very proud of this farm and all the farms that were nominated, and all that they've done to help improve the environment. Our farmers should be very proud. They spend a lot of their own hard-earned money to make great improvements to their farmland for future generations. That's what AEM is about. These farms have taken the lead with innovative ideas on how to preserve and protect our water, especially on the Finger Lakes. We need more farms to follow their example."

In addition to Lakewood, eight farms were nominated by their Districts for notable commitment to proactive environmental stewardship on their farms. They include:

- AngelRose Dairy, Bainbridge, a 350-acre dairy farm with 90 grazing cows, owned by John and Diane Kemmeren. The farm was nominated by Chenango County Soil and Water Conservation District for being among the first in the area to use no-till grass seedings to build organic matter, while reducing erosion, weeds and pests. This practice also reduced nitrogen inputs, while increasing corn yields by 10 percent.

- Barbland Dairy, Fabius, owned by Chip Engst, Luke Huysman and Brett Bossard. The farm was nominated by the Onondaga County Soil and Water Conservation District. The 2,600-acre-farm hosts crops and a 1,700-cow milking herd, while exceeding requirements for Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) compliance with manure storage plus injection, cover cropping, rotational grazing and buffers.

- Birds All Dairy Farm, Canaseraga, owned by Kim Shaklee and Janice Brown. The farm was nominated by the Allegany County Soil and Water Conservation District. This 300-acre rotational grazing farm milks 50 cows. Forages have been no-tilled for 12 years. The farm uses a pasture irrigation system on 90 acres to help avoid summer grazing slumps and improve yields. They've also implemented Best Management Practices, including buffers and stream habitat management.

- Grape View Dairy, Westfield, owned by Chad Fredd. The farm was nominated by the Chautauqua County Soil and Water Conservation District. Robotic technologies help manage the 230-cow milking herd. The farm has been a model of conservation, with cover crops, as well as a seven-month manure storage and a one-pass manure incorporation tool to reduce odor and ammonia volatilization.

- KC Bailey Fruit Farms, Williamson, owned by first-generation farmers Charles P. Jr., and Karla Bailey. The farm was nominated by the Wayne County Soil and Water Conservation District. The Baileys grow and sell 24 apple varieties on 350 acres that border Lake Ontario, requiring wind break buffers. They've implemented irrigation and pollinator habitats for three farm ponds to address climate risks.

- Kingsley Brothers Farm, Pavilion, owned by David and Gary Kingsley. The farm was nominated by the Genesee County Soil and Water Conservation District. The dairy farm milks 100 cows and diversifies with corn, wheat and soybeans on 750 hilly acres. Implementation of practices to reduce erosion and improve soil health include conservation planting methods, cover crops, forested buffers, and limiting access of livestock to streams.

- Milk Pail, Water Mill, managed by 12th-generation farmer, Jennifer Halsey Dupree. The farm was nominated by the Suffolk County Soil and Water Conservation District. The Long Island Sound farm protects ground water and soil with testing, crop rotation, cover crops, reduced tillage, irrigation, pollinator habitat development while growing 26 apple varieties, 1,200 peach trees, and vegetable crops.

- Whey Street Dairy, Cuyler, owned by Martin and Mary Ann Young. The farm was nominated by the Cortland County Soil and Water Conservation District. Martin is a leader on conservation stewardship, speaking at conferences and sharing knowledge with fellow farmers. The family farm has 600 dairy cows and was an early adopter of soil erosion control and riparian buffer practices. They implemented conservation tillage practices, cover crops and installation of several acres of buffers along the Tioughnioga River.

The annual Agricultural Environmental Management Award is jointly sponsored by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, American Agriculturalist Magazine and the Empire State Potato Growers. Award winners are chosen from nominees submitted by County Soil and Water Conservation Districts from around the state. The first Agricultural Environmental Management Award was presented in 2002; prior to that, the award was known as the Agricultural Stewardship Award.

New York State's agricultural environmental management framework is a model for the nation as a voluntary, incentive-based approach to protect natural resources and meet the economic needs of the agricultural community.

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