Robinson Family in York County
A New Way of Life: York County Couple Increases Productivity though EQIP
By: Sabrenna Bryant, Public Affairs Specialist
When Mark and Shannon Robinson moved to their current home and farm in Edgemoor (York County) in 1998, the place was pretty run-down and needed major repair. When they initially bought the place, it was simply to have a home in the country to raise their family. Both were working full-time jobs as they restored the place. From time to time, they would help the existing tenants with various farm chores and as those tenants got older and stopped farming, the Robinson’s sort of picked up where they left off. Fast forward ten years and the couple now operates over 300 acres of farmland between York and Chester counties, with a total of 120 head of cattle.
The Robinsons now operate over 300 acres of farmland between York and Chester counties, with a total of 120 head of cattle.
The Robinson’s signed their first Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) contract in 2005 for their farm in Chester county, installing several conservation practices, including cross fencing, buffer strips, a well and watering troughs. After realizing the benefits and efficiency of the conservation practices, the couple decided to sign-up for EQIP on their farm in York county, which is on the county line, with 197 acres in York and approximately 7 acres in Chester. “We feel that what we are doing are not only good conservation practices, but just good farming practices overall,” declared Mark.
Through EQIP and technical assistance from Soil Conservationist, Jessie Thomson and York District Conservationist LaKeisha Hill, the Robinson’s newest conservation plan will enable them to cross-fence their farm into smaller paddocks and install nine watering troughs. “The installation of this fencing will allow us to practice rotational grazing effectively and give the grass a chance to grow properly,” stated Shannon. The couple also has heavy use areas installed at high-traffic areas, and at each of the watering troughs. The installation of the heavy use areas has replaced the once unsightly mud holes and eliminated soil erosion that was occurring in these areas. “Jessie and I are excited to be working with the Robison's. They realize the benefits of conservation practices to their bottom line and to natural resources overall,” stated Hill. “It makes my job that much easier when the customer has this understanding and an appreciation for what we try to promote as conservationists.”
As the Robinson’s farm grew, so did the demand for time. Shannon quit her full-time public job two years ago to dedicate all her time to the farm, spending between 60-80 hours a week maintaining the operation. Mark continues to work full-time, but spends at least 40 hours a week helping Shannon run the farm. He plans to farm full-time once he retires. In addition to the cattle, which are raised for commercial beef, the Robinson’s are also involved in hay production. They produce square and round bales of hay from 320 acres of neighboring farmland to sell for profit. Aside from occasional help from their son and Shannon’s father, the Robinson’s run the farm pretty much on their own.
The Robinsons love what they do and feel that the beauty of their land and productivity of the farm is well worth the investment of time and energy spent. “Through EQIP we are installing practices that will provide us with an efficient and effective farm in the future”, stated Mark. “And regardless of how much or how little our farmland may expand in the future, we will continue to practice conservation.”
For more information, please contact the York USDA Service Center at 803-684-3137.