(l-r) Earl and Charisse Snell accept a clock with an engraved plaque from NRCS State Conservationist Dr. William Puckett honoring them as the Alabama NRCS 2011 Small Farmers of the Year.
Earl and Charisse Snell of Dale County were honored as the Alabama Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Small Farmers of the Year during the Outreach/Youth Day in Skipperville, Alabama, on Saturday, May 7. The winner is selected for environmental stewardship, innovations, and community leadership.
As the Alabama NRCS 2011 Small Farmer of the Year, the Snells will represent the state in the national competition.
The Snell family was recently featured in a U.S. Department of Agriculture video highlighting seasonal high tunnels or hoop houses, as they are sometimes called. This video is part of the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Initiative which connects farmers and consumers and promotes the purchase of fresh, local food. The Snells hoop house operation adds many benefits to the land including energy reduction, increased water quality (with reductions in pesticides and nutrient inputs and outputs), and improved soil quality. They are also extending their growing season.
“The Snells are pioneers in the field,” said NRCS State Conservationist Dr. William Puckett, “they were the first farmers in Dale County to construct a seasonal high tunnel and they have been instrumental in adopting and promoting this new technology in the area.”
The Snells participate in Alabama’s "Buy Fresh - Buy Local" Initiative, providing vegetables to:
seven high schools
two recreational departments
local farmers markets
senior citizens groups
low income communities
local events, i.e., rodeos
NRCS provides financial assistance for seasonal high tunnels as part of a three-year trial under the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) to determine their effectiveness in conserving water, reducing pesticide use, maintaining vital soil nutrients, and increasing crop yields.
If you are interested in receiving information about Farm Bill programs, contact your local NRCS or Farm Service Agency office listed in the telephone directory under U.S. Department of Agriculture or on-line at http://offices.sc.egov.usda.gov. Individuals are not eligible for EQIP until they have completed the Farm Bill eligibility requirements.