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Read the latest conservation success stories that show how NRCS and Washington's farmers and ranchers work together to improve agricultural operations while helping the environment.

Manuel and Marcello Imperial

EQIP Helps Row Crop Farmers Diversify

When Manuel Imperial emigrated from the Philippines in the early 1980s to help out on his uncle’s farm, he had no idea how hard the work would be. This is when Imperial, who was only 15 years old at the time, along with his sister, Virginia, and three brothers, Marcello, Melchor and Marlo first put down roots in a small community near Yakima, WA where his uncle owned about 40 acres of farmland.

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Robin Mason

Mason "Critter Pad" EQIP Project

Robin Mason saw the water coming before she heard the flood warnings on the radio. Mason gathered all of her horses in the barn like usual, but panic swept over her as she and forty-five head of horses waited anxiously to see if the water would rise to the second floor of her ninety-four-year-old barn. Would the horses survive the night?

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Restored Ranch Gives Hope to Disabled Vets

Most ranches nurture and sustain cattle or sheep. But the Barker Ranch in West Richland, Wash., also nurtures and sustains the spirits of our nation’s injured soldiers.

For disabled military veterans who thought they could no longer experience the joy and exhilaration of hunting in the great outdoors, the 2,000-acre Barker Ranch’s rich wildlife provides the opportunity to rekindle that experience.

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Orchard Takes ‘Natural’ Path to Pest Control

The harvest season of 2009 was not a good one for Junell and Jerry Wentz. There wasn’t a market for their high quality cherries that year, and they would have lost money by picking the fruit, so they left it to rot on the trees and fall to the ground.

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Imahe: Yacolt, WA farmer Naomi Ferreira.

From healing people to healing the land

As a registered nurse, Naomi Ferreira helped people heal. As a farmer, she’s helping the land heal.

Nurse Ferreira served active duty in the U.S. Air Force for two years, then for another 24 years in the Reserves, until returning full-time back to her 250-plus acre farm in Yacolt, Washington. Farmer Ferreira now spends her time caring for 250 head of cattle and enjoying the land she loves – adorned with plush-green pastures and tree-lined serpentine creeks.

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Image: Denise, at left holding their dog Sammy, and Jim Wilder own and operate a Christmas tree farm in Clark County Washington.

Farm, forest thrive thanks to new generation of land stewards

Despite growing up in the urban environs of San Diego, Jim Wilder always wanted to be a farmer. As a professional landscaper for 20 years, he understood the value of hard work–but nothing prepared him for just how hard that work–as a farmer–would be.

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image: Orchard owner Sergio Marquez (left) and his wife Lilia.

Leading by example: Washington orchardist embraces “soft” pest management

It’s not just about the money he’s saving – though he’s happy not to have to write those big checks. And it’s not just about reducing potential chemical exposure to his farm workers – though he’s delighted his employees are working in clean environment.

For Sergio Marquez, implementing his Integrated Pest Management (IPM) plan is really about being more responsible – and, of course growing beautiful fruit.

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Image: April Jones (center) credits her mother Pat (left) and father Bob Jones with her land stewardship ethic that is such an important part of her 24-acre, certified organic farming operation today.

Farmer connects with her community

April Jones went into farming to grow good food.

What she didn’t know when she planted her first seed was that she would also be growing a sense of community — a community of people who appreciate her, her land, and her locally grown vegetables. Cultivating that sense of community has resulted in a following of loyal customers who value both the quality of her produce and the relationship they now have with the local farmer who helps feed their families.

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Image: Owner Mike Van Horn (left) and orchard manager Hector Torres.

‘Go-all-the-way’ attitude pays

When Mike Van Horn left home to attend Washington State University as a young man, he told his father, “I don’t know what I want to be, but I know I don’t want to be a farmer.”

Four years later, when Van Horn returned with a degree in agriculture, he had changed his mind. A farmer is exactly what he wanted to be. Van Horn was knee-deep in agriculture, whether it was working for warehouses, packers, growers and shippers, or owning his own orchard.

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Miguel Contreras on his 56-acre orchard just north of Zillah, Washington.

Integrated pest management works if you do it right, orchardist says

Miguel Contreras likes calling the shots. He likes making the management decisions that go into producing a beautiful crop of Washington apples. But most of all, he likes seeing the “fruits of his labor” in the bin – ready to go to market. But he wasn’t always calling the shots.

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