Land Stewardship Through Conservation

 

Healthy soil is the foundation of organic and sustainable farming, yet successful farming and land stewardship depend on the health of all natural resources on the farm and its surroundings. Soil, water, plant diversity, wildlife, pollinators and human actions are all critical elements in thoughtful land conservation planning.

 

By using conservation practices, farmers and gardeners can benefit the environment and improve soil health, while also decreasing their dependence on fertilizers purchased off-farm, reducing pest management troubles and costs, maintaining reliable sources of clean water, increasing drought resiliency and achieving better pollination. Land and forest managers can reduce erosion of topsoil, support thriving ecosystems and create long-term stewardship of healthy habitats for wildlife, pollinators and people.

 

OAK’s Conservation Outreach program provides one-on-one assistance for Kentuckians interested in adding conservation practices to their land or farm management. From urban gardens to rural farmscapes, woodland owners to tenant farmers, OAK’s Conservation Outreach Coordinator can assist Kentuckians in creating an individualized conservation plan and navigating the process for technical or financial assistance from the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

 

This program is supported by a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). 

 

Farmer and Landowner Resources

One-on-One Conservation Support

Schedule a time with OAK's Conservation Outreach Coordinator to explore conservation planning, financial resources and technical assistance.

 

Get Started - Schedule Today!

Peer Learning and Community Events

Conservation Resources

 

Conservation Education Events 

Conservation Chats

July 23, 2024, 6 - 7 pm ET
July 24, 2024, 12:30 - 1:30 pm ET

OAK Conservation Chats are open, virtual gatherings where Kentucky farmers, growers and landowners connect with peers and OAK conservation staff to share experiences and ask questions about on-the-ground conservation.

Participants will explore the basics of conservation practices and how to engage with technical and financial assistance through the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Tailored to the needs and goals of registered participants, topics may include connecting with NRCS field staff, applying for NRCS cost-share programs, identifying appropriate conservation practices to meet farm/land goals and interpreting NRCS payment timelines and scenarios. 

Registration is required for these free events in order to best serve the needs of participants. Two times are offered to provide choice for registrants, and registrants need not attend both options; these events are not recorded.

 

Register Here

 

 

  

Farmer Field Days

Exploring the Ecosystems of Community and Conservation 

Seedleaf's Headwater Farm, Lexington KY -- September 12, 2024 -- 9 am - 12 pm ET

freshly turned soil strip with tractor exiting in background and two people measuring the width of the new crop bedFarms come in all shapes and sizes and involve one farmer or a team of farmers - and sometimes, they’re managed in community. Along the headwaters of the Elkhorn Creek in Northeastern Fayette County, Headwater Farm is growing its work to cultivate nutrient-dense produce for community partners and support small local agribusinesses in Lexington. On this 30-acre parcel of leased land, Lexington nonprofit Seedleaf provides acreage to small-scale growers, cultivates culturally significant seeds for organic markets and offers community education on organic agriculture and agroforestry.

Join this OAK Farmer Field Day to learn about Headwater Farm’s integration of whole-farm planning and management built on an ethic of community engagement, land stewardship and a long-term vision. Hear from Headwater Farm’s multiple market and subsistence growers using different small-scale production systems on individual plots while maintaining the integrity of the whole farm’s transition to organic certification. Learn more about Headwater’s collaboration with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in adopting conservation practices that protect the natural resources of Headwater Farm and its local ecosystems - and how OAK and NRCS can help any Kentucky farm to do the same. Thanks to a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), registration fees are waived for this event. Registration is required.

 

  

Growing on Principles: Soil Health, Farmer Health and Community Health

Apostles Garden, Bowling Green, KY -- October 10, 2024 -- 9 am - 12 pm CT

vegetable crops in lower foreground; stand of drying cover crop in upper foreground; high tunnel in background of small farmscape

Farming, fellowship and fungi are interconnected at Apostles Garden. On this ½-acre of vegetable production in Bowling Green, Jackson Rolett and his family are creating a collaborative market farm based on soil health, farm and family work-life balance and mission-driven work on their church’s land. Join this OAK Farmer Field Day to learn from Jackson about the realities of part-time farming and co-farming, leasing community land, transitioning acreage to organic certification and balancing crop management with time management in year-round farming. 

Tour their Warren County gardens to see Jackson’s efficient practices of cover cropping, crop rotations and field and tunnel vegetable production - yielding healthy crops and benefiting the natural resources of soil, water and pollinators. Learn how OAK programs can assist growers and farmers in on-farm conservation, organic production and organic transition, and hear from the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) on financial and technical assistance available for conservation efforts. Thanks to a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), registration fees are waived for this event. Registration is required.

  

 

 

Conservation Resources

Conservation Assistance from the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)

OAK assists farmers in understanding the programs, processes and applications of NRCS assistance and offers assistance to farmers fulfilling NRCS contracts and program requirements. Click below to explore these programs directly on NRCS websites.

 

Climate-Smart Farming and Conservation Practices

Already established with on-farm conservation practices? Interested in taking a commercial operation to the next level with a dialed-in conservation plan and further financial assistance? Check out OAK’s Climate-Smart Project, which supports farmers who want to implement climate-smart practices (e.g. cover cropping, perennial planting, rotational grazing), collect data on outcomes and engage with emerging markets seeking positive environmental and climate impacts. 

 

Explore the 20 Climate-Smart Practices included in OAK's Climate-Smart Project, as defined by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). 

 

 

Conservation, Connection and Capital: Bringing EQIP Support to Your Farm

Webinar Recording and Resources -- April 24, 2024

crowd of farmers in conversation in front of high tunnels and farm infrastructure

This webinar guided farmers through all they need to know to apply for and implement Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) support and funding. This free online event provided participants with sure-footed next steps and connections with people who can help, from identifying conservation concerns to completing a successful contract. Click below to access a summary, follow-up resources and the event recording. Learn from OAK staff members, a Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) specialist and experienced farmers Cortney Moses and Paul Dengel. Cortney and Paul shared their farm's story of the EQIP application and funding process and its on-farm benefits for GoodThymes Organic Farm in Williamsburg, KY. 

 

  

 

This work is supported by a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender in accordance with USDA Departmental Regulation 4300-3, Equal Opportunity (EO) Public Notification Policy, and Section 7.