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Conservation district, farm honored

Fessenden Dairy, owned by Tim and Ronda Fessenden, of Genoa, and the Cayuga County Soil and Water Conservation District received the state's 2008 Agricultural Environmental Management Award for exceptional stewardship.

State Department of Agriculture and Markets Commissioner Patrick Hooker presented the awards at the 75th Annual Empire Farm Days in Seneca Falls. He praised the Fessendens for combining traditional conservation techniques with cutting-edge technology, maximizing environmental benefits and recognized the county Soil and Water Conservation District for providing technical assistance and resources.

The 650-cow dairy's innovative waste management system recycles manure solids into heat-treated bedding for the cows, or into compost marketed as certified organic Tender Loving Compost. It manages liquid nutrients and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. This sixth-generation family farm was established in 1863.

The dairy also raises 1,200 acres of corn silage and alfalfa for feed on carefully designed contours, terraces and strips. With Agricultural Environmental Management guidance delivered through the Cayuga County Soil and Water Conservation District, nearly 53 acres are dedicated to non-crop buffer strips and grass waterways to protect critical areas along Paines Creek.

“Our goal is to provide for future generations, just as we have been provided for in the past,” Tim Fessenden said, “by bringing together all of the elements necessary to maintain a profitable farming operation including quality employees, capable management, productive land, healthy animal.”

Four other nominees received Agricultural Environmental Management awards. Nearly 12,000 farms participated. The state Department of Agriculture and Markets, American Agriculturist Magazine and the Empire State Potato Growers sponsored the 15th Annual Agricultural Environmental Management Award.

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