Crystal Organic Farm has been named Newton County's Conservationist of the Year by the Upper Ocmulgee River Soil and Water Conservation District.
The award was presented at the district's recent annual program to the business owner, Nicolas Donck, for his achievements in soil and water conservation on the farm, according to a release.
Donck became a certified organic farmer and started Crystal Organic Farm in 1994, growing organic crops year round.
He uses 20 hoop houses to maximize efficiency of land use throughout the year while protecting his crops from the harsh environmental elements, according to a release. Conservation practices implemented on his farm are numerous and protect and conserve the natural resources of the farm. The use of drip tape for irrigation saves water by placing it where it is needed and at metered amounts for crop needs with little to no evaporation. The use of plastic under crops aids in water conservation along with disease control. Fertilizer used on the farm is strictly certified organic fertilizer that has been composted and is applied by soil sample recommendations.
Crop rotation is a must on his farm along with cover crops which he plants on all exposed ground year round.
He has been approved for another hoop house made possible by the Environmental Quality Incentive Program, known as EQIP. It has also allowed him to affordably drill a well to supply water to his crops in the more remote areas of his farm. Cost share assistance has further been provided to implement cover crops and buffers around fields.
he Conservation Stewardship Program has rewarded Donck for already actively implementing conservation practices on his farm.
The business delivers produce to Atlanta restaurants and farmers markets. Major crops produced on his farm include sweet potatoes, kale, collards, peppers, tomatoes, corn, strawberries, and his most popular item, arugula lettuce.
The Upper Ocmulgee River Soil and Water Conservation District includes Newton and Jasper counties. The district serves as guardian of the soil and water resources for the citizens of its counties.