Mountain Castles SWCD recognizes local farmers


Barry Holland of Botetourt County and Tracy Roberts Frist of Craig County have each received a “Clean Water Farm Award” from Mountain Castles Soil and Water Conservation District.

Holland owns a 230-acre beef cattle farm on Long Run in Buchanan. Holland completed two “Stream Exclusion with Grazing Land Management” conservation projects on the farm in 2005 and 2015. These conservation practices featured the installation of over 5,000 feet of fence to exclude cattle from the creek and pond on the farm. The fences also created a streamside buffer which helps protect the creek from sediment and animal waste.

An additional 5,000 feet of cross fencing was built, allowing Holland to implement a rotational grazing system for his cattle. The grazing paddocks contain a total of ten frost-free watering troughs which were connected by over 7,000 feet of pipeline to an existing well.

Frist owns a 936-acre grass-fed beef cattle farm on Sinking Creek in Craig County. She completed a “Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program” project in 2014. This project was administered by the Farm Service Agency (FSA) with cost-share provided by Mountain Castles SWCD and FSA. Technical assistance was provided by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

The project included fencing the cattle out of Sinking Creek and developing an alternative watering system. Frist also planted hardwood trees, shrubs and grasses which provide a streamside buffer and wildlife habitat.

Frist has completed several NRCS projects over the years which have included hardwood and pine tree plantings, a prescribed grazing plan (with rotational feeding emphasis) and livestock exclusion from creeks, ponds, and forests.

Along with federal partners FSA and NRCS, Mountain Castles SWCD works with landowners to reduce water pollution in Craig County and Botetourt County through technical assistance and cost-share programs. Homeowners who are not associated with farming may also take advantage of cost-share programs through the Virginia Conservation Assistance Program (VCAP). For more information, visit or call (540) 400-0707.

-Submitted by Tim Miller