I am so proud to announce that our family farm was awarded the 2016 Environmental Stewardship Award from the Berrien County Conservation District!
While I was in Missouri at the Food and Fear event, my parents received the award at a dinner banquet. The award was largely based on the fact that our farm became certified under the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program in the spring of 2016. The voluntary program aides farms of all sizes and commodities in the state to prevent or minimize agricultural pollution risks. Certification includes a three-step process of education, farm-specific risk assessment and practice implementation, and on-farm verification to ensure the farm has implemented all of the environmentally sound practices. So far, there are over 3,500 farms in Michigan that have voluntarily become certified under this program.
MAEAP does require a number of measures to be taken on the farm for certification. Thankfully, we did not have to make many changes before we passed. We did have to properly dispose of some old pesticides we still had on the farm, remove old gasoline cans, and move our gas tanks to a cement pad in case of a spill or leak. Each of us now has the local hazmat team programmed into our cell phones in case there is a spill and we need to call someone to help clean it up. We also installed an anti-siphon valve on our well that fills our sprayer, so the spray cannot accidentally go back into the well from the spray tank.
Fortunately, and proudly, we were already complying with many of the requirements for certification. We were already mostly using no-till practices. We keep precise records of pesticides and fertilizers. We do not over apply fertilizers. We already had a spray facility for storing and filling our spray tanks with a specialized floor to catch any spilled chemicals and pesticides. Our fertilizer tanks were in a secondary contained area. We take regular soil samples.
So now our family can proudly display the MAEAP sign on our farm.
I’m bummed that I missed the award presentation, but I am so proud of my parents! We take conservation seriously on our farm and I’m so happy we were able to complete the MAEAP certification to represent that.