River Friendly Farms
River Friendly Farms are farms that have gone through a certification process to prove their conservation practices. As homesteaders, many or even all of us are focused on bettering the land we live on. We also want to provide safe food for our families and keep the ecosystems near us thriving.
Practicing the conservation elements required of River Friendly Farms is a great way to do that. Our focus in this article is to show you why River Friendly Farms are important. We also want to cover how your farm or homestead can make the jump to becoming one.
What Are River Friendly Farms? Why Is It Important?
River Friendly Farms are farms that do their part to keep waterways clean and healthy for the environment. To be a River Friendly Farm, your farm must do the following to help local waterways:
- Implement conservation practices that limit water pollution – prevent excess nutrients, bacteria, and pesticides from making their way into waterways.
- Build soil organic matter and protect topsoil from erosion – keeps soil healthy and productive.
- Encourage natural pest suppression and pollinators.
- Create diverse streamside habitats.
- Ensure a healthy ecosystem for native species.
- Help sequester carbon and preserve soil quality to sustain future generations.
Being a River Friendly Farm is important for many reasons. Doing so helps ensure the health of your local topsoil, which can help protect your fields during drought periods. It also helps to bring back the health of your soil. Healthy soil helps to sustain the next generation by making the area more resistant to weather changes.
Farmland is suffering more than ever, with almost half of it suffering from significant degradation. Building your soil organic matter back up can help reverse those negative effects. It improves the health and protection of local produce and ecosystems.
Plus, being a River Friendly Farm helps keep the waterways in your area healthy and free of chemicals and pesticides. These unnatural additives can make their way into our waterways and harm the animals and organisms that call your local waters home. Plus, they can be harmful to people who ingest them through the waterways.
How do You Get Certified? Is There a Certification for This in Your Area?
Are you interested in becoming a certified River Friendly Farm? The process is simple and can be done in just a few steps. First, you’ll need to find out if there is a free certification available for your area. Our area is covered by the Cumberland River Basin, but you may be covered by a different certification organization.
If you’re in one of the covered areas, the certification program is currently FREE to all applicants. Otherwise, you will need to pay a $500 certification visit fee. The process starts with a farm application that you fill out. Then, there’s a certification farm visit where the Certification Committee will determine if your farm is eligible.
When they visit, they will be looking at the following areas:
- Soil Health and Erosion: Little to no soil erosion, good pasture management, and practices that protect and increase soil organic matter.
- Nutrient Management: Using crop nutrients at the right rate, in the right placement, and with the right timing.
- Pest Management: Preventing pests through non-pesticidal measures, having IPM Strategies in place, utilizing record keeping and calibration, taking mixing and storage precautions, and correct pesticide selection.
- Farmstead Management: Run-off management, leachate, and wastewater management, concentrated livestock areas managed, manure and compost storage, and litter and trash management.
- Protecting Waterways: Riparian buffers on permanent waterways, streams not impacted by on-site activities, restricted livestock access to waterways, and irrigation water management.
You are Certified – Then What?
Once it’s determined that your farm or homestead meets the requirements, you’ll earn your certification. You can use this certification to show your commitment to stewardship, separate your products from those produced at non-certified farms, strengthen your brand image, or support your claims for environmental responsibility.
When your farm is certified, you will receive ongoing educational and marketing opportunities through your Certification Committee. These resources will help ensure you stay up to date on all the steps you should be taking to stand out as a River Friendly Farm.
If your farm doesn’t qualify, you’ll receive a written explanation as to what changes you’ll need to make to become certified. The Certification Committee will also suggest grands, cost-share programs, or other resources that may help guide you in the efforts.
Do You Have a Creek, Stream, or River on Your Homestead?
If you have a creek, stream, or river on your homestead, it’s more important than ever to practice safe soil and water farming. Furthermore, if you want to take the extra step to show your commitment to conservation practices, becoming certified as a River Friendly Farm is a great idea.
Are you looking to sell produce or other products from your homestead? Earning this certificate will give consumers an added layer of confidence that they are purchasing safe, healthy, and environmentally friendly goods. This can mean a lot, especially for consumers looking to reduce their impact on the environment and support local farmers and homesteaders.
We Are Certified as a River Friendly Farm
We’re proud to say that Stoney Creek Farm is a River Friendly Farm. We make every effort to practice sustainable farming and share our knowledge with other homesteaders who are looking to learn. Our main conservation practices include the following:
- Rainwater capture
- Use of beneficial insects to control pests
- Cover crops to regenerate our soil
- Conservation of the wetlands area that feeds into Stoney Creek
If you want to become a River Friendly Farm, one of the most important parts of the certification is eliminating pesticides from your farm or homestead. Our e-book is designed to help you make the switch with plenty of tips and guides to gardening without pesticides.
Remember that when you focus on these conservation practices, you’re helping your family and community, but you’re also helping the generations to come. You’re providing a healthy habitat for local animals, safe waterways, and pesticide-free produce while improving the topsoil and making your land more conducive to healthy homesteading.