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Success Stories - Carlton Jones - Conservation Star | Delaware

You're a Shining Star, No Matter Who You Are - Carlton Jones is Delaware's Conservation Star, by Stuart A. Lee

Overview of Carlton Jones and his Farm

Carlton Jones.Sitting down to talk to Mr. Carlton Jones is like listening to a perfected folklorist telling colorful stories full of great and inspiring moral life-lessons. In conversation with Carlton, you'll hear notable one-liners and wonderful quotes. But, the best thing about Carlton is that he wholeheartedly believes in what he is preaching and, likewise, he practices what he preaches and this is what shines prevalently though all of his conservation practices and his ever growing endeavor to protect our environment.

Carlton and his wife Jody have had their 200-acre farm in Sussex County Delaware for more than 40 years, and were once operating a traditional farm; growing beans and corn with the use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers, and raising grain fed poultry. Now their Delaware farm, located within the Chesapeake Bay Watershed and about 35 miles inland from the Atlantic Ocean, is an environmental friendly operation where the Joneses are raising grass-fed Black Angus cattle.

Carlton's passion is farming, but his determination is to have a family farm that is managed under sound conservation practices. He remembers a time when his farming was different - when farming practices did not take into account the importance of conserving natural resources and the environmental and health benefits of natural farming and conservation management. "It is almost a sin, what we have done to the soil. I'm no authority, but I can see it. The Lord gave us a pretty good thing, this world, but we've messed it up, the way that we fertilized the soil and worked the soil, we've accumulated a lot of problems," says Carlton. "I was told that I couldn't fight the process. I said, I couldn't but I don't have to join it."/i>

With this confidence Carlton Jones went chemical, fertilizer and pesticide free, turning toward operating a grass-fed beef farm. "The good Lord didn't put that wide mouth on cattle for them to eat corn; chickens can eat corn with their little beaks. Cattle are foraging animals meant to eat grass,"/i> says Carlton. In 2003 he planted his land in pasture from organic seed, erected fencing, and bought 17 Black Angus heifers. Now he boasts of the nearly 60 cattle that have come from his first heard all of which have been grass-fed and chemical free.

Conservation and conservation management is very important to Carlton. For him it is important for the land, for the health of others, and for the future our children. "I feel like I am working for the Lord a little bit, we are doing our best to be helpful to people," said Carlton. "I won't get rich doing this, I am not going to do this and be the largest landowner in Sussex County, or be a millionaire. I may even go broke doing this. But, this is my contribution to people's health, and I take a lot of satisfaction in that "satisfaction of knowing that you are helping the situation and not adding to the problems of the situation."

With the help of the NRCS and the Sussex Conservation District Carlton Jones has addressed water quality, nutrient management, soil conservation, and air quality by implementing prescribed grazing, forage harvest management, pasture and hayland planting, cover crops, windbreaks, irrigates forage for maximum yield and nutrient uptake and feeds to beef cattle. He has worked with NRCS to build and acquire fencing, waterers and manure storage structures and a dead bird composter. "I don't need to go to a casino to gamble, farming is a big enough gamble, and without the NRCS I wouldn't be where I am today,"</i> said Carlton.

"That Carlton has done for Sussex County and by having land in Delaware's In-Land Bay and the Chesapeake Bay Watershed is to insure that we are all one step closer to higher quality and productive soils, cleaner and more abundant water, healthier plant and animal communities, cleaner air, more adequate energy supplies and productive farm lands, " said Tim Garrahan, NRCS Program Manager. "He and his practices embody what the NRCS and all of our mission goals stand for, he is a star NRCS conservation partner.