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In the Beginning

We're Halfway There: Hills Farm

10-8-2013 1-03-51 PMThis is one in a series of articles about farmers in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed who have implemented Best Management Practices (BMPs) to improve water quality and efficiency on their farm. As a result of these and other success stories, we're halfway to achieving the nutrient reductions needed to restore the Chesapeake Bay and its waters. View the rest of the series here.

Tim and Susie Brown own Hills Farm, 630 acres adjoining the Chesapeake Bay on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. It's a historic farm dating back to 1747.

Hills Farm also has the distinction of being the first farm on Virginia's Eastern Shore to be protected with an open space easement and the first farm on the Shore to enroll in the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP).

"I'm a big supporter of the Farm Bill," Tim Brown says of the federal legislation that has provided much of the funding for CREP and other farm conservation programs helping farmers protect soil and water resources. "I wish more people would take advantage of the conservation programs."

"We have wildlife buffers around all our crop fields; they filter nutrients out of runoff water, which helps clean up the Bay," he says. "The buffers were installed as part of the CREP program. They do more than filter runoff; they also provide habitat for wildlife."

Hills Farm has 100 acres of tillable land, but most of the farm is woodland and marsh. Of the 100 acres of tillable land, about half is planted in annual crops; the rest is either in CREP or in some sort of wildlife habitat, including 13 acres of impoundments.

Brown has a passion for ducks and wading birds and partnered with Ducks Unlimited to construct several holding ponds that can be planted with annual crops or allowed to grow natural plant foods for ducks, then flooded during the migration season. This provides much needed food for waterfowl migrating along the Eastern Shore, a major East Coast flyway.

"I'm proud that we use conservation practices that not only protect the Bay but also the wildlife that use the Bay and the Eastern Shore."

—Bobby Whitescarver  

 Whitescarver lives in Swoope, Va. For more information, visit his website.

Ensure that people like the Browns are able to continue doing these innovative things on their farms. Tell Congress to protect conservation programs--that are critical to restoring the Bay--in the Farm Bill!

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