‘A great example’: Skaneateles farm wins NY environmental conservation award | Politics

Two state agency commissioners traveled to central New York on Thursday to present a Skaneateles farm with a prestigious award. 

Greenfield Farms is the winner of the annual New York Agricultural Environmental Management-Leopold Conservation Award. According to the state Department of Agriculture and Markets, the award “honors a farm for its extraordinary efforts to promote and protect the environment through the preservation of soil and water quality while ensuring farm viability for future generations.” 

The 1,400-acre farm was recognized for its soil erosion prevention efforts and the changes the Greenfield family has made over the years to be good environmental stewards, such as planting cover crops and ditching their mold-board plow to adopt no-till drill technology. 

Jim Greenfield was one of the first farmers who participated in the Skaneateles Lake Watershed Agricultural Program, an initiative that was an alternative to constructing an expensive water treatment plant. Skaneateles Lake supplies drinking water to the city of Syracuse and other municipalities in Onondaga County. 

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There are other components to the Greenfields’ environmental conservation strategy, including 12 miles of grassed waterways and grass buffers to prevent runoff along crop fields. The farm also has 20 water and sediment control basins to shift clean water underground and release it to an outlet. They also use smart technology to apply fertilizers and other products needed to grow crops. 

Basil Seggos, the commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Conservation, was impressed by what he saw after touring the farm. 

“Long before there was a potential award, they were pioneering some of these very sustainable practices at the farm,” he told The Citizen. “Doing so because it’s not just good for the environment and the community, but also for their bottom line. I think that’s what became apparent to me today was seeing the investments they’ve made in controlling stormwater on their landscape and how that safeguards their most precious resource, which is soil.” 

Richard Ball, who is the commissioner of the state Department of Agriculture and Markets, said Greenfield Farms is “setting a great example” and “doing great work managing their farm in a financially responsible way and an environmentally responsible way.” 

“That’s having real benefits to the farm and the overall community,” Ball added. 

The Leopold Conservation Award is presented in 24 states. It is named in honor of the famed conservationist Aldo Leopold. In New York, the state’s soil and water conservation districts are encouraged to nominate farms for the honor. The three other finalists for this year’s award included Humbert Farms in Wayne County and Lawnhurst Farms in Ontario County. 

Along with the award, Greenfield Farms will receive a $10,000 prize. 

Politics reporter Robert Harding can be reached at (315) 282-2220 or robert.harding@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @robertharding.

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