The Leopold Conservation Award was established in memory of conservationist Aldo Leopold. The award recognizes agriculturists who inspire others with their dedication to land, water and wildlife habitat on private, working land.
Clarkridge Farm in Goffstown, NH, has been named as a finalist for the 2023 New England Leopold Award.
Daniel King is the owner and operator of Clarkridge Farm. After growing up on the farm, he took over operation of the business after his uncle’s passing in 2013. The farm is located on 300 acres. According to King, 200 acres are woodlands, 40 acres are pasture lands and the rest is wetlands.
Operating out of a historic barn from the 1880s and a much newer barn built in 2000, Clarkridge produces grass-fed beef, pasture pork, maple syrup, honey and timber.
“We have anywhere from six to 10 beef cows, and they graze alongside cows owned from nearby Benedikt Dairy,” explained King.
He said that over 90% of his customers come from within a 20-mile radius. “We sell our beef and pork directly to consumers, and our honey and maple syrup is sold at the Benedikt Dairy farm stand.”
He raises his pork on a combination of pasture and woods (silvopasture). In 2023, he raised Ossabaw Island and Berkshire cross pigs.
The Maple Barn at Clarkridge Farm was constructed in 2015, and maple products are sold directly from it during peak maple season. The lumber for the barn was harvested from the farm’s woods. King works with a New Hampshire certified forester to ensure the long-term health and viability of the working woodlot.
Clarkridge Farm is a first-time nominee for the Leopold Conservation Award. It is being recognized for its grazing and reseeding practices, as well as for preservation of prime wetland and wildlife habitat in Hillsborough County.
King rotationally grazes his beef cattle. Using this method, cattle are concentrated on a smaller area of the pasture for a few days then moved to another section of pasture. King said the practice has prevented soil erosion and improved forage and water quality.
“My uncle used continuous grazing,” he said. “When it was all said and done, it left the area pretty beat up. So I tried rotational grazing, and the results have been pretty phenomenal. Within two seasons, the areas that had gotten pretty sandy really turned around and started producing.”
Consequently, King reported that since using a rotational grazing approach, he gets three times as many grazing days out of his land.
Other improvements include reseeding pastures with cool season grasses and legumes. The benefits of cool season legumes and grasses overseeded on dormant warm season perennial grasses include providing nitrogen to subsequent warm season soils, reducing nitrogen fertilizer requirements in subsequent seasons.
The winner of the New England Leopold Award will be announced in October. For more information on this nominee, visit clarkridgefarm.org.
by Enrico Villamaino