A fourth-generation Sussex County farmer and a new botanic garden recently were recognized for their conservation efforts at the annual Governor's Agricultural and Urban Conservation Awards May 3.
James “Jay” Baxter IV, who works more than 2,000 acres in the Georgetown area alongside his family, earned this year's agricultural conservation award for promoting soil health and cover crop practices. Baxter Farms grows corn, soybeans, wheat, sweet corn and lima beans, as well as broiler chickens. Baxter Farms is also a Certified Tree Farm. Baxter, working with U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service and Delaware Association of Conservation Districts, grows cover crops on about 50 percent of his land and has produced videos promoting conservation planning, soil health practices and the importance of being good stewards for future generations.
“Much of the work we do at [the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control] is accomplished through partnerships with USDA-NRCS and Delaware’s three conservation districts, and these awards highlight the beneficial outcomes of these relationships,” said DNREC Secretary Shawn Garvin in a press release.
Delaware Botanic Gardens at Pepper Creek, a 37-acre site now under construction in Dagsboro, was recognized for its 10-year multiphase plan with the state's urban conservation award. The new attraction will include gardens, trails, habitats and outdoor classrooms that emphasize environmental stewardship, enhance awareness and educate residents and visitors about the natural wonders of Sussex County.
"The Delaware Botanic Gardens' conservation commitment will be evident in every aspect of our management of the land and our approach to plant and water conservation," said Gregg Tepper, the garden’s director of horticulture. The gardens are slated to open to the public in 2019.
“This year’s honorees are wonderful and diverse examples of how we can learn from the success of others and can all be better environmental stewards by taking thoughtful and important actions to protect and enhance our water and air quality,” Garvin said in the release.
Other award winners from New Castle and Kent counties were John R. Stinson & Sons Inc., the Dragon Run tide gate repair project, Robbins Farms and DE Turf. State Sen. David Lawson was awarded the 2016 Legislator of the Year for his ongoing conservation efforts.
Click here to read the full release.