“Out with the old, in with the new” isn’t the rule of thumb at Sand Creek Farm
in Cameron, Texas. Ben Godfrey, the organic farmer who owns the farm, has used
the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), a conservation program
administered by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), to help
increase the environmental benefits on his farm in Milam County.
Sand Creek Farm produces raw milk, a variety of cheeses, grass-fed beef, yogurt,
jams, honey, soy-free pork and chickens, and cage-free eggs. To produce this
bounty, Godfrey practices old-fashioned ways of agriculture production, using a
two-horse system to plow and cultivate his fields.
Godfrey sells Sand Creek Farm’s products to many regular customers, and he also
has a booth at the local farmer’s market to help expand his market share.
Godfrey teamed up with NRCS after a neighbor suggested it as a way for him to
increase production on his 170 acres of farmland. Through the
Initiative, Godfrey worked with local NRCS personnel to develop a conservation
plan using conservation practices benefitting his organic farm, including crop
rotation, cover crops and pest management.
Godfrey says that technical and financial assistance from NRCS taught him many
ways to make his land more productive and expand the yield from his acres. He
adds that EQIP gave his farm the opportunity to produce more diverse, healthier
products and alternating vegetable crops every other year, including onions,
peas and many varieties of potatoes, as well as cover crops like oats and hairy
“EQIP has provided my farm the means to grow exceptional organic and seasonal
produce,” Godfrey said. “The word at our farmer’s market is that many farmers
are now considering going organic.”
EQIP assistance has always been available for organic producers, but the 2008
Farm Bill allows for a certain amount of EQIP funds in every state to be set
aside to assist organic producers with a number of conservation practices,
including cover crops, crop rotations, prescribed grazing, forage harvest
management, nutrient management and pest management.
Godfrey plans to continue using traditional agricultural practices, since he
considers them the key to his organic farm’s success.
Ben Godfrey, an organic farmer and producer in
Cameron, Texas, holds up a large cheese wheel that is one of the
many varieties produced at Sand Creek Farm in Milam County. He
produces raw milk Gouda, Colby, Mozzarella, and Yogurt cheeses,
along with other organic, raw milk dairy products and grass-fed
Doing it the old fashioned way, Todnechia
Mitchell, NRCS district conservationist in Milam County, works
the reins to control the only horsepower used to plow and
cultivate fields on Sand Creek Farm in Cameron, Texas. Ben
Godfrey, farm owner and organic producer, far left, walks behind
Mitchell guiding the draft horses pulling an older version of a
potato planter used on the farm.
Sand Creek Farm in Cameron, Texas, produces many
organically grown vegetables for public consumption throughout
the year, including this Kale that is a purple-colored, robust
wild cabbage. Kale is considered to be a highly nutritious
vegetable with powerful antioxidant properties that has a sweet
taste right out of the ground.
Ben Godfrey, left, organic farmer and owner of
Sand Creek Farm, shows Todnechia Mitchell, right, NRCS district
conservationist in Milam County, a Purple Majesty potato that is
one of many varieties of potatoes grown on the farm. Godfrey
offers several organically grown vegetables to the public,
including onions, peas, potatoes, tomatoes, squash, melons,
peppers, and okra.