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Hemdale Farms in Ontario County named a finalist for state conservation award

Julie Sherwood
jsherwood@messengerpostmedia.com
Dale Hemminger is seen last year at his family farm, Hemdale Farms and Greenhouses in Seneca Castle, talking about the farming operations with some of his workers.

Hemdale Farms and Greenhouses in Seneca Castle in Ontario County is one of three finalists selected for New York’s inaugural AEM-Leopold Conservation Award.

Awarded in partnership with the Department of Agriculture and Markets, the AEM-LCA award honors a farm and its nominating Soil and Water Conservation District, “for their efforts to promote and protect the environment through the preservation of soil and water quality while helping to ensure farm viability for future generations,” stated a release.

Hemdale Farms and Greenhouses, a multi-family farm, features a 1,300-cow dairy, 70,000 square foot greenhouse operation, and 3,000 acres of cropland that produces feed for the dairy along with cabbage and various specialty vegetable crops. “The farm has adopted countless Best Management Practices (BMPs) using the AEM framework to preserve its land and build soil health, including implementing a robust cover crop and reduced tillage program,” according to the state Department of Agriculture and Markets.

Earlier this year, Soil and Water Conservation Districts statewide were encouraged to identify and nominate the best examples of conservation success in their district. Applications were reviewed by an independent panel of agricultural and conservation leaders.

Sand County Foundation, a national nonprofit conservation organization, will present the $10,000 cash award with the support of New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, American Farmland Trust, Cornell Cooperative Extension, The Ida and Robert Gordon Family Foundation, Farm Credit East, New York State Agribusiness Association, and other sponsors.

The annual award will be presented later this summer. The farm honored will also be featured in a video promoting their award-winning conservation practices.

The other two finalists are Honorone Farm of Canajoharie in Montgomery County and Sang Lee Farms of Peconic in Suffolk County.

Here’s what was stated about the selected finalists:

NYS Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball: “We are honored to host this most distinguished award recognizing farms and supporting Conservation Districts dedicated to the implementation of sound land management practices. Congratulations to our three finalists. These outstanding family farms represent the diverse nature of New York agriculture and are an inspiration to other landowners. Their dedication and leadership in the implementation of conservation practices not only help provide economic and environmental benefits to their farm but also to the communities in which they farm, protecting the valuable land and water resources of New York State.”

New York State Soil and Water Conservation District Chair Dale Stein:

“Congratulations to our farms and to our districts for this recognition. These deserving farms and districts have exemplified extraordinary work in caring for our land and water and for our communities, using AEM best management practice to ensure the protection of our natural resources. New York’s farms are leaders in environmental stewardship and the finalists of the AEM-Leopold Conservation Award help us shine the spotlight on their efforts.”

Kevin McAleese, Sand County Foundation President and Chief Executive Officer: “Recipients of this award are real life examples of conservation-minded agriculture. These hard-working families are essential to our environment, food system and rural economy.”

For more information on the award, visit www.leopoldconservationaward.org.