Persistence Creek Farm of Faulkner, Md., has been selected as the first winner of the Maryland Leopold Conservation Award.
Kevin and Lauren Warring’s farm is a grain, seafood and timber business in Charles County. They were presented with the $10,000 award at the recent Maryland Farm Bureau Annual Convention in Cambridge.
Given in honor of renowned conservationist Aldo Leopold, Sand County Foundation and national sponsor American Farmland Trust present the Leopold Conservation Award to farmers, ranchers and forestland owners in 23 states for land, water and wildlife habitat management.
In Maryland, the award is presented with the Keith Campbell Foundation for the Environment, Maryland Association of Conservation Districts and Maryland Farm Bureau Inc.
Maryland landowners were encouraged to apply (or be nominated) for the award earlier this year. Applications were reviewed by an independent panel of agricultural and conservation leaders. Finalists included Ordinary Point Farm of Earleville, Persimmon Tree Farm of Westminster and Rich Levels Grain Inc. in Cecil and Kent counties.
About Persistence Creek
When Kevin and Lauren Warring bought their farm in 2009, they set out to leave it better than they found it. Their farm has become a confluence of how farming, fishing and forestry businesses can benefit natural resources.
The Warrings take soil seriously. They annually rotate crops of corn, soybeans and sorghum to sustain soil fertility. They use no-till or minimum tillage on all fields to reduce runoff. Cover crops are planted on all fields to protect soil microorganisms. Nutrient management plans and annual soil tests minimize fertilizer inputs and maximize yields by tailoring a crop’s nutrient needs.
To enhance wildlife habitat and maintain productive forests, the Warrings have used financial assistance from the Conservation Stewardship Program and technical guidance from a forester with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. By following a custom forestry plan, thinning acres of forestland has increased timber growth rates for future harvests while boosting biodiversity and providing wildlife with food and cover.
Acres of shrubs, maple, pine and oak trees have been planted to reduce streambank erosion. Riparian buffers that stretch 50 feet on each side of Ross Branch stream capture nutrients from crop fields, improve water quality and provide nesting habitat for wildlife.
Two acres of ponds and wetlands provide habitat for frogs, ducks and deer. Food plots of white clover, sunflowers, corn and soybeans are planted annually.
A self-described “flower geek,” Kevin has planted 5 acres of wildflowers and native grasses in prairie strips to attract monarch butterflies and other insect pollinators.
A stream-crossing project involved re-sloping banks and installing concrete footers and riprap to reduce erosion. The long-term health of the Potomac and Wicomico rivers has been improved by the more than 100 million baby oysters the Warrings have helped plant since 2014.
Kevin and his father, Francis, are both active members of the Charles County Waterman’s Association, which provides public and legislative outreach on fishery regulations. Both have served as associate supervisors for the Charles Soil Conservation District. Kevin’s parents, Francis and Joyce, have their own farm only 10 miles from Persistence Creek Farm.
Persistence Creek Farm’s enrollment into a perpetual conservation easement permanently preserves its future use for agriculture and forestry, and limits housing or mining development.
Kevin, who has degrees in physics and economics, helped reestablish a FFA chapter in Charles County. The active Farm Bureau member has hosted farm tours for schools and legislators, and appeared on a national conservation-themed podcast.
He also serves as a guide for youths hunting deer, turkey and waterfowl, showing these hunters and their parents how conservation practices benefit wildlife.