Soil and Water honors Sgrecci farm, Curatolo
MONTOUR FALLS—The Schuyler County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) held its Annual Luncheon at the Human Services Complex in Montour Falls, Feb. 16.
This year’s Conservation Farmer of the Year Award was presented to More Sun Farm in the town of Catharine owned by Gail and Dana Sgrecci. Jim Curatolo, Coordinator of the Upper Susquehanna Coalition (USC), received the 2010 Service Award for the help he has provided to SWCD and for his work protecting the rural Southern Tier economy.
The event also highlighted soil and water improvement projects that were accomplished in 2010. Completed projects in stream stabilization, wetland construction, the prevention of agricultural runoff, GIS mapping, and successful grant proposals of over $9 million in total project funding were some of the areas reviewed with an attending audience of 60 people.
The Sgreccis milk 80 cows and farm 500 acres, most in pasture that is rotationally grazed; a system that helps reduce soil erosion and protect water quality.
“Rotational grazing requires experience to get highly productive pastures but once it is properly established, it truly helps the environment and farm profitability,” commented Dana.
“Farming is hard work but it is a satisfying lifestyle that allows us to raise our four children in an outdoor setting, and close to animals that provide healthy food,” said Gail who works full time on the farm with Dana.
The Sgreccis have also installed numerous other agricultural best management practices including a milk house waste treatment system, a barnyard water management system, diversion ditches and stabilized stream crossings. Their farm is an organic dairy farm certified by the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York.
Curatolo has written millions of dollars worth of grants for projects such as wetland improvement and construction, stream buffer protection, precision feeding for animals, and grassland enhancement. His grants help to fund two Schuyler SWCD staff positions. He was instrumental in getting the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to recognize the water quality work being done in New York state, which led to a more obtainable goal for the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) and will save the Southern Tier millions, if not billions, of dollars.
“Jim is an incredibly creative person who has decades of experience in the field of natural resources management. The SWCD’s, other groups who work in conservation, and our rural residents are very lucky to have him as a leader in the Southern Tier region,” stated Jerry Verrigni, District Manager.
“Our work in protecting soil and water resources is never done but we are especially proud of our accomplishments this past year achieved with the assistance of many cooperating organizations and individuals,” said Verrigni.