2018 Bay-Friendly Farm Award presented to owners of Thornton River Farm

Rappahannock County cattle farmers Chris and Caroline Parrish have been presented with the 2018 Bay-Friendly Farm Award by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation at its annual awards dinner in Culpeper.

“I got the same award about 30 years ago and it was presented by Jim Massie, whose grandson David Massie after all these years presented us with the award this time,” Parrish tells this newspaper.

Seen here, left to right, are Culpeper Soil and Water Conservation District Rappahannock Director Mike Biniek, Bay-Friendly Farm Award recipients Chris and Caroline Parrish, and Department of Conservation and Recreation Division Director of Soil and Water Darryl Glover. Courtesy photo

The Clean Water Farm Award Program, under which the Chesapeake Bay-Friendly award is presented, recognizes farms that utilize practices designed to protect water quality and soil resources. Chris, whose family roots in Rappahannock go back generations, lives in the same house where he grew up.

The family’s Thornton River Farm near Viewtown encompasses 650 acres — 250 acres of cool season perennial hay land, 300 acres of pasture, and 100 acres of managed forest. The farm has just over three miles of frontage on the Thornton River, which is a major tributary of the Hazel River.

Over 80 percent of the farm has stream exclusion fencing, which totals over 20,000 feet of protected streambank. It has at any one time 140 head of cows/calfs that Chris rotationally grazes in multiple pastures. The cattle drink from several spring development systems that were installed through the cost share program, as well as two pressurized systems.

Besides cattle, the Parrish family produces high quality horse and cattle hay marketed as square and round bales to horse and cattle owners. All the hay fields are overseeded using a no-till sod drill. Legumes are used to improve the orchardgrass stands and supply nitrogen.

Chris Parrish is vice chair of the Rappahannock County Board of Supervisors.

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