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A P.E.I. farm is being celebrated for its measures to protect the province’s soil.
Somerset Farms received the 2019 Gilbert R. Clements Award for Excellence in Environmental Farm Planning during the P.E.I. Federation of Agriculture’s annual meeting Friday.
The award, which is named after the late environment minister and province’s 25th lieutenant governor, is given annually to a farm that is economically viable, environmentally sound and socially responsible.
Darren and Brenda Peters started the first-generation farm in 1994.
“We’re pretty honoured to be picked,” said Darren. “A lot of farms on P.E.I. could have gotten the award so we are honoured.”
Somerset Farms includes 200 acres of potatoes, 60 acres of carrots and other crops on a five-year rotation.
The farm has installed thousands of feet of soil conservation features including 3,300 feet of farmable berms, 12,000 feet of permanently grassed waterways and 6,000 feet of diversion terraces.
The farm also frequently uses conservation tillage practices as well as progressive integrated pest management techniques.
Somerset Farms is also a participant in the Alternative Land Use Program (ALUS), which helps reduce soil erosion while increasing wildlife habitat and reducing the impacts of climate change.
The Peters family recently retired 12 acres of sloped land that would have otherwise contributed to excessive soil erosion. These acres are now preserved as ALUS projects.
Darren has played an active role in his community, both agriculturally and otherwise, as a member of the P.E.I. Potato Board, the P.E.I. Federation of Agriculture and retired member of the Kinkora Fire Department.
The farm has also increased public awareness of sustainable agriculture practices.
Daren is seen as a tireless promoter of the ALUS program and has introduced the benefits of sustainable farm management to many fellow producers. He also hosts tours at Somerset Farms for Kinkora Regional High School students in an effort to share sustainable farming practices with the next generation.