“Everything in the oyster business is dependent on what happens on the land.”
As one of the largest oyster planters on the East Coast, Lake Cowart’s business is dependent on the quality of the water in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. “Everything in the oyster business is so dependent on what happens on the land,” he said.
“We need to be careful with our acreage to protect this watershed.” Having seen the link between water quality and land use, Cowart is turning his sights towards protecting additional farmland he owns on the banks of the Coan River where his business, Cowart Seafood Corporation, is headquartered.
Lake Cowart, Jr. – Owner of Cowart Seafood Corp
Photo Credit: Northern Neck Land Conservancy
Conservation of Land and History
Located at the confluence of the Robinson and Rapidan Rivers in Culpeper County, Horseshoe Farm encompasses a rich history that unfolded there, including a Greek Revival house built in the 1850’s. Sheldon Clark, the owner, worked with the Virginia Outdoors Foundation to conserve the 761-acre farm in 2021.
“Conservation of land and history for future generations is important to me, and conservation was the goal from the moment I bought Horseshoe Farm,” said Mr. Clark. The conservation easement protects three miles of river frontage, valuable wildlife habitat and 450 acres of prime farm soils.
Mr. Clark also has conserved about 3,000 acres nearby on Clark Mountain in Orange County over the past 20 years with the Virginia Outdoors Foundation.
Sheldon Clark, Horseshoe Farm, Culpeper County VA
Looking Forward, Looking Back
The Goodall brothers, Joe and Paul, had heartfelt opportunities to speak with their father before his passing about his wishes for the farm that has been in the family for now over 100 years.
Culton Goodall’s response was, “If it’s not too much trouble, I would like to see it protected as a working farm.” Looking back on those poignant conversations, Paul and Joe are working to honor their father’s wishes by conserving the farm with a farmland protection easement.
Following in his footsteps, they are implementing ever evolving best management practices and employing the best technology to achieve their goals for beef production and conservation. With backgrounds in education, the Goodall brothers are looking to the future as well, “Passing along a good understanding of conservation issues empowers the next generation to carry forward a healthy land ethic.”
Toward that end, the Goodall brothers have involved numerous high school and college students in environmental stewardship, including hands-on learning by planting native trees to restore streamside forest along the waterways that bisect their almost 600-acre Century Farm.
“We want our kids to be able to farm.”
In a unique approach to private lands protection, the Nixon family partnered with PEC, NRCS and Culpeper Soil and Water Conservation District to leverage federal and state farmland protection funding to conserve their farm fronting the Radidan River for over one mile at the base of Clark Mountain in Orange County in 2018.
“We want our kids to be able to farm and provide for future generations. And that’s kind of the whole goal of this,” said Tom Nixon, who owns and operates Glenmary Farm with his wife, Kim, along with their children. “Both of our children have developed a strong passion for working on our farm for today’s agricultural industry.”
Nixon Family, 382-acre Glenmary Farm, Orange County VA
The Friendliest Town on The Appalachian Trail
Damascus Virginia, voted by Blue Ridge Outdoors as the “2021 Top Adventure Town,” in the tiny Town category, has nine trails that converge in its small radius, seven of which are nationally known: The Appalachian Trail, the Virginia Creeper Trail, the Trans-American Bicycle Trail, the Trans-Virginia Bike Route, the Daniel Boone Trail, the Crooked Road Music Trail, the Iron Mountain Trail, the Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail, and the Mid Atlantic Backcountry Discovery Route.
The Appalachian Trail brings thousands of people through our beautiful Town with our annual Trail Days event being a major celebration. The Virginia Creeper Trail brings hundreds of thousands of visitors to Damascus yearly. A tourist Town, because of these wonderful trails meeting here, Damascus has become a highly desired destination.
“Outdoor recreation is imperative to the health and wellbeing of each and every person on this planet. We need to make sure we preserve the conservation of our Parks and Trails.”Mayor Katie Lamb, Damascus, VA