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Diverse Organic Farm Sees Growing Success with Help from Conservation Program

Troy, New York, August 26, 2013

Pam Schreiber with a new high tunnel that extends her vegetable crops growing season
Pam Schreiber with a new high tunnel that extends her vegetable crops growing season. Full screen view
Pam Schreiber with some of 24 cow/calfs beef cattle utilizing new rotational grazing system on 42 acres of pasture
Pam Schreiber with some of 24 cow/calfs beef cattle utilizing new rotational grazing system on 42 acres of pasture. Full screen view
Pam Schreiber, farm owner and operator, with CNMP planner Sally Flis, and NRCS District Conservationist, Eric Swanson
Pam Schreiber, farm owner and operator, with CNMP planner Sally Flis, and NRCS District Conservationist, Eric Swanson. Full screen view

Eight Mile Creek Farm, located in the rural Town of Westerlo in Albany County, New York, is owned by Pam Schreiber. Pam has been working and growing her certified organic farm since 2005 with her three kids and now two interns. Eight Mile Creek Farm is a diverse organic farm with both vegetable and beef production her primary focus. Pam also has chickens, hogs, and a wide variety of vegetables.

USDA Certified OrganicIn 2009, Pam was successful in receiving approval on her first Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) grazing contract through the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). This conservation grazing contract targeted the farm’s poor conditioned and overgrazed pastures. The program helped to refine and implement the farm’s prescribed grazing plan by designing the proper layout of needed fencing to divide the pastureland into workable paddocks. The system of paddocks would allow for the cattle to move from one paddock to another through a planned schedule, providing time for the grasses to regrow. In addition, environmentally sensitive riparian areas have been fenced and protected. “Rotational Grazing has been one of our most important and successful conservation tools on many farms in the area,” said Eric Swanson, District Conservationist for Rensselaer and Albany Counties with the NRCS.

“With the Rotational Grazing System, the farm pastures have consistently seen higher yields, despite problem dry periods for each of the years since first installing the fencing in 2010”, said owner and operator, Pam Schreiber. The grazing contract continues with new cattle watering systems planned, along with improved laneways.

In 2010, Pam was successful in seeing her second EQIP contract approved, this time focusing on her vegetable crops and need for a seasonal high tunnel system. Seasonal high tunnels are plastic covered structures aimed at extending the growing season for a variety of vegetables and small fruits. Through this program, vegetables are grown directly in the ground and often rotated to different crops through the extended growing seasons. “I was able to grow a variety of greens the very first fall the structure was installed and harvested them each day for special orders to customers. The greens stopped growing in the late fall, but thawed out each morning, allowing for harvesting in the afternoon throughout the winter”, said Pam. She has been extremely happy with her success in her first high tunnel, now in its third year. Pam is looking to install another when she can. The high tunnel allows for more diversity on her farm, which she says is a key to her success in farming to date.

In 2012, Pam was able to secure her third EQIP contract, this time targeting the livestock, manure, and whole farm, under a  Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plan-Conservation Activity Plan (CNMP-CAP). This contract helped Pam to hire a certified planner to develop the CNMP for the farm and to utilize the manure produced by the beef cattle to its fullest extent in this diverse organic operation, while protecting the environment as well. Pam is currently working with a certified planner, Sally Flis, in the plan development. The plan is also a step to even more EQIP assistance in the future.

Agricultural Environmental Management (AEM)
Eight Mile Creek Farm was the recipient of the AEM award for Albany County in 2011 for its outstanding stewardship of the land.
 

Pam has worked closely with the Albany County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD), Cornell Cooperative Extension (CEE), the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA), the USDA NRCS, and a number of farm organizations in seeing her Eight Mile Creek Farm become successful. Pam researches and reaches out to get assistance where it is available.

With offices in nearly every county in the United States, NRCS works with landowners and communities to improve our soil, water, air, plants, wildlife, and energy use. The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) is a voluntary program that provides financial and technical assistance to farmers to help plan and implement conservation practices to protect the environment while helping producers meet Federal, State, Tribal and local environmental regulations. If you are interested in how you can protect natural resources on your farm or forestland, please contact your local county NRCS office.