Tidewater SWCD Clean Water Farm Awards

The Clean Water Farm/Bay Friendly Award is sponsored by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation. This award is given to recognize and thank Virginia farmers who implement nutrient management plans and are exemplary in their protection of the state’s soil and water quality. These individuals are role models who encourage others’ stewardship. Farmers spend time, energy and hard-earned money carrying out conservation practices that benefit many people. They themselves benefit because nutrients, pesticides, and chemicals they invest in remain with the land where they’re most productive. The soil necessary to grow crops also stays put because of conservation planting techniques. When these potential pollutants are kept out of surface and ground waters, citizens benefit by having cleaner water for drinking, recreation, industry, wildlife and transportation. On a local level, each District can nominate one farmer per river basin to win a certificate of recognition signed by the governor and a sign to post at their farm for this award.  Above and beyond the local award, one farmer or farm from each of Virginia’s 10 major river basins is chosen for outstanding management that improves water quality. These 10 winners receive an additional award presented at a special recognition ceremony; one winner will then be chosen as a state winner.  

2021 Clean Water Farm Award Winner

Charles Rich - Richland Farms

Tidewater Soil and Water Conservation District is proud to honor Mr. Charles Rich of Richland Farms, with the 2021 Clean Water Farm Award. Mr. Rich has had quite the farming career! He grew up on a farm in Gloucester, Virginia, and began farming on his own after graduating high school in 1967. Throughout the years, he has entered into many different agricultural ventures including raising cattle, hogs, grains and timber. No matter the avenue, Mr. Charles Rich always recognized the importance of conservation practices and the benefit they have on his land.

Charles Rich adopted conservation practices into his operation very early into his career. He noticed the advantages of controlling erosion and installed grass/sod waterways and drop structures into his farm. Both of these practices substantially cut back the risk of gully erosion. Charles has also been practicing no-till farming for over 40 years and grows cover crops through the winter. No-till farming and cover cropping keeps the soil in place and helps to maintain a beneficial soil structure and biological life. He maintains and follows an up-to-date Nutrient Management Plan on all of his cropland acres and has also been split applying his nitrogen fertilizers on both corn and small grains.

Mr. Charles Rich also has done quite a bit of work to ensure those who are interested in learning more about conservation practices have had the opportunity to do so. He played a critical role in the Gloucester Agronomy Tour, an education event for Gloucester farmers that highlighted different farmers’ fields and crops as a way for farmers to learn from one another and to hear alternate perspectives and experiences on agronomic practices.  He has also partnered with Virginia Cooperative Extension to host a Gloucester Area Field Day for middle peninsula farmers and agribusiness representatives. This educational event showcased field plots looking at hybrid seed varieties, tillage, and yield enhancers. Charles’ farm has been used many times over the years for research endeavors by Extension Agents and Specialists.

Charles Rich has truly had an exceptional career and was on the forefront of advancements in conservation practices. Through these and other efforts, Tidewater Soil and Water Conservation District is proud to recognize Charles Rich of Richland Farms as the Chesapeake Bay Coastal Clean Water Farm Award winner for 2021!