This is one in a series of articles about farmers in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed who have implemented Best Management Practices (BMPs), demonstrating that agriculture is half way to achieving the nutrient reductions needed to restore the Chesapeake Bay and its waters. View the rest of the series here.
Hardware River watershed farmer Jimmy Powell with one of his Angus bulls. Photo by Bobby Whitescarver.
Jimmy Powell and his family have been farming for three generations. He owns 420 acres of pasture and hayland in the Hardware River watershed, a James River tributary that flows through Albemarle and Fluvanna Counties.
Powell is on the Farm Bureau Board of Directors for Albemarle County, and he serves on the county committee of the Farm Service Agency. He also was the first farmer to participate in Albemarle County’s purchase of development rights program. Powell received cash from the county to extinguish most of the development rights on the farm. His land is now protected from development forever.
“I love this farm, and I don’t want to see it developed,” he says.
Ches Goodall, Albemarle County’s director of open-space protection said, “Jimmy’s farm was the perfect fit for our farmland protection program. It’s a productive family farm. We created these incentives because we don’t want development in our rural areas. It’s too expensive, and keeping [open space] in farm and forest land protects our rural character—the scenic beauty…and water resources.”
Said Powell, “Now that I know the farm is going to stay farmland, I am going to work even harder to improve the soil and water resources. I’ve fenced off some of my streams, and it has been a good thing. My cows are healthier, and I can rotate my pastures easier...These volunteer programs have helped. I could not have done it without them, and they need to keep going.”
Powell has a current CREP contract with the Farm Service Agency and has applied for assistance through the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Initiative to fence off another stream on his farm.
“We’ve got a ways to go, but I know it’s good for my cows, my farm, and the streams where I live,” he says. “I want to leave this farm in better shape than when I took over.”
Whitescarver lives in Swoope, Va.
For more information, visit his website or e-mail him at email@example.com.