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Highland Farm Named 2019 Outstanding Tree Farm Of The Year

In an earlier story, Missy Moyers-Jarrells from Laurel Fork Sapsuckers Farm in Highland County spoke about two upcoming events they are hosting September 13th and 14th. One of those events is a celebration of the farm being named Virginia’s 2019 Outstanding Tree Farm, and I asked her more about the award, and why they had been chosen for it.

“The award for the Outstanding Tree Farm of the Year is given each year in the spring by the Tree Farm Foundation. They award that during a forestry summit – this year it was held in Norfolk, Virginia, and that’s where we went to receive our award. Now that we are representing Virginia this year as the Tree Farm of the Year, we are now going to be entered into a regional tree farm award program, which runs essentially from Virginia north up to Maine.”

“We were chosen as Tree Farm of the Year due to our willingness to open our farm to the public, to allow people to come and learn from the practices that we are currently implementing. Tree Farm looks for sustainable management – we have been managing our farms, we have been managing them for maple syrup production, for wildlife. (They) also look for non-timber forest products, alternative incomes to our farm other than just timber value.”

She noted some of these diversified alternatives.

“We are looking to use our farm beyond a source of income from timber. We are also planting non-timber forest products going to focus more on the ginseng, the golden seal and the black cohosh. We’re also focusing more on ramps. Although those grow naturally, we have started to transplant some and add seeds, so that we can also incorporate that into some of the products that come from our farm.”

“We’re working on an apple orchard that was there when my grandparents bought the farm 69 years ago – those trees have started to decline, so we’ve started working on grafting those trees and bringing those older varieties back. We’re working on pollinator habitat – it’s very important for our honeybees. We also have bees on our farm, so we want to have happy, healthy bees, so we’re working on two acres of pollinator habitat as well.”

“We started planting Dunston chestnut trees on the farm, trying to get those chestnut trees reintroduced back on the farm as well. We’ve used a lot of the native red spruce and hemlock and white pine on our farm to build the new events building with, so we’re also utilizing the lumber for that.”

“Forest land is typically not looked at in a sense of farming, but we want to show people how you can farm forest land. We’re hoping that our farm can be a model for people to take information back, and apply to their farms as well.”

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Scott Smith

Scott is the News Director for Allegheny Mountain Radio and Station Coordinator and News Reporter for WVLS. Scott’s family has deep roots in Highland County. While he did not grow up here, he spent as much time as possible on the family farm, and eventually moved to Highland to continue the tradition, which he still pursues with his cousin. Unfortunately, farming doesn’t pay all the bills, so he has taken other jobs to support his farming hobby, including pressman/writer for The Recorder, and Ag Projects Coordinator for The Highland Center. He lives in Hightown with wife Michelle and son Ethan, and also is a member of the boards of the Highland-Bath Farm Bureau , Highland Chamber of Commerce and Highland Sheep and Wool Association. In his spare time, he wishes he had more spare time, especially to ride his prized Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

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