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Mitchell Paige - Outstanding Conservationist in Duplin County

Mitchell Paige - An Outstanding Conservationist in Duplin County

No-Till and Corn on Mitchell Paige's farm.

While traveling the landscape of Duplin County North Carolina you are bound to notice several things. There is an abundance of hog, poultry, and large-scale farming operations. Small farms, once the backcloth standard in this rural county are becoming more intermittent. For farmer Mitchell Paige, however, his operation has not become an endangered livelihood lost among a milieu of encroaching large-scale farming operations. Mr. Paige’s roughly 400-acre operation is thriving and is an example of what other operations, small and large, should strive to replicate.

Mr. Paige, a 4th generation farmer, is keenly aware of the issues that affect his business, including the economy, culture, climate, and natural resources unique to Duplin County. “There are large farms popping up all the time down here, farms where the people who own the land don’t live here and have others farm it for them. There are poultry operations being frequently, as well, but the landowners do not understand the type of land and water we have here,” said Paige. “We’ve been here, lived here, grew up here and it takes a lot more than being a huge landowner to be’ve got to know and care about the soil, water, and other resources we have to make it work for your farm and for everyone around you.”

 Mr. Paige understands that there is a lot more to farming than trying to turn a profit.
 “It’s important to know the farming business, and how to manage the resources. You also need to know how to make this land and water work for you, and to use it wisely,” said Paige.
  Mr. Paige uses his resources prudently. Because of longstanding water quality issues in Duplin County, he has worked with NRCS to adopt management practices that conserve water and help enhance water quality conditions on his farm. How is he doing this? He implements no-till techniques and plants cover crops. He also maintains 20 feet boundaries that are not farmed, off-set from ditches and uses an integrated pest management system. Furthermore, he understands that integrating wildlife habitat management into his operation will provide added resource benefits. Mr. Paige is working through the NRCS Longleaf Pine Initiative to restore Longleaf Pine habitats on his lands.

No-Till, Field Border and Corn on Mitchell Paige's farm.

Mr. Paige’s voluntary conservation management practices have improved resource conditions on his farm, which help him to stand out. Therefore, when he applied for NRCS Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), a program that helps producers who are already demonstrating a high level of conservation resource management to further their efforts, he was a prime applicant for the program.

His efforts to improve resources on his farm and for Duplin County will not end. Mr. Paige is leaving a legacy of good farming and conservation practices for the county. In addition, his lands are currently in a state easement program to protect farmland from development.

“I want this land to be here,” said Paige. “I want this farm to be an example of what can happen and how it can work when you tend to everything while being aware of the impact farming has on the environment and take appropriate steps to protect it.”

Mr. Paige and his farm may be a rare symbol of Duplin County’s agricultural past, but it remains extremely valuable to the county and its resources.