Outstanding Conservation Farmer Award to John Venskoske Sr., Frederick Cty
John Venskoske Sr., his wife, Charlotte, and their sons own and manage Sunny Acres, a beef cattle operation. John has been working with the district to promote conservation on his farm in Frederick County for more than 16 years. Even while busy managing the farm and installing conservation practices, John still has time to run a successful black powder business where he sells and ships black powder all over the country, supporting Civil War re-enactments and the preservation of our country’s history.
John originally contacted the district to discuss how to increase the health of Back Creek that runs through his farm. The district has worked with John to implement numerous practices which help conserve soil and water resources by reducing erosion and runoff, thereby keeping the soil and valuable nutrients on the field and out of Back Creek and his local watershed. John protects his stream with engineered, structural practices to stabilize the streambanks and enhance the riparian buffer along Back Creek, installed in 2000 and 2005.
John’s farm is situated just 10 miles from downtown Winchester City. Looking towards the future, John placed Sunny Acres into a conservation easement to protect the land and water from development. With this new designation, John committed to completely excluding his livestock from Back Creek. John signed up with the district for a stream exclusion project and completed that in 2014, which involved installing a new water system for his livestock, fencing out his livestock from the stream and creating a 35 foot riparian buffer on each side of Back Creek. With the conclusion of this project, John has protected 6,150 feet of stream bank along Back Creek.
Additionally, John has signed up to plant a diversity of native, hardwood trees within the riparian areas along Back Creek to increase the ecological benefit of his riparian buffer and further decrease the amount of soil erosion, sediment flows and concentrated nutrient run-off into the stream. The trees will be planted this program year.