It was good to see that Jeremy and Sarah Wilson won the 2018 Leopold Conservation Award for North Dakota. They certainly deserve it.
Named after Aldo Leopold, a famous conservationist who worked in the U.S. Forest Service and the University of Wisconsin, the award recognizes farmers, ranchers and private landowners who exemplify voluntary, responsible stewardship and management of natural resources. The Wilsons received the award — and the crystal vase and $10,000 prize that comes with it — at the North Dakota Association of Soil Conservation Districts' recent annual meeting.
I’ve have visited the Wilson farm several times. Jeremy and Sarah no-till, plant cover crops and have an extremely diverse rotate. Although they are young, they have been no-tilling a long time and are pioneers in the regenerative ag movement.
The Wilsons farm some pretty tough looking ground, too. A lot of it looks like a stone pocked unmaintained dirt road. But with the soil building and water saving practices the Wilson use, they have produced some impressive yields. More importantly, they have done it without spending a lot of extra money on fertilizer and chemicals. Instead, they are using no-till and cover crops, and they are trying to mimic Mother Nature.
Sarah has also been a very active blogger and ag advocate. Over the years, she has taken on everything from the animal rights antics to a church’s criticism of GMOs. Goat yoga is one of her and her daughters’ latest projects. I bet the yoga classes give her a great opportunity spread advocate for agriculture.
It’s always good to visit with Jeremy and Sarah because they are always trying something new or different. According to press report when Jeremy took the podium to accept the Leopold Award, he encouraged farmers to continue trying new things and to learn from their experiences.
"This journey has been very rewarding," he said, of their experience. "And it’s far from over."
The most fun I had at the Wilson’s farm didn’t have anything to do with no-till, conservation or ag advocacy. It was helping them pick sweet corn for the Great Plains Food Bank. A crew of 20 to 30 people worked a half day to fill a semi-trailer with sweet corn.
Although the Wilsons only had a couple acres of sweet corn that year, Jeremy said it was his favorite crop because it was going from their farm to someone’s plate, not to a grain elevator, feedlot or ethanol plant.
It is good to be reminded that we grow food for people, he said.
Amen to that.
Clearly, there’s more going on at the Wilson farm than just conservation.