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Washington County farm wins conservation recognition

| Sunday, Jan. 4, 2009

The farm has been in the Sargent family since 1811, said Rennie Stoy of the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service. For the past 197 years, the 155-acre spread in West Bethlehem Township has served diverse duties.

Stoy said the farm began originally as a sheep operation. In later years, John's father, Glenn Sargent, farmed it as a dairy. Glenn Sargent became a Washington County cooperator in 1986. His primary concern when he ran the farm was the eradication of the multifloral rose.

John Sargent took over the farm with the help of his wife, Patricia. The couple is the fifth generation in the Sargent family to live on the property.

The Sargents have a beef operation with 50 brood cows. The animals are fed exclusively hay and pasture. In addition, the couple rent approximately 100 acres of additional neighboring farmland for hay crops.

They have been cooperators since 2001. In that short period of time, with the help of the EQIP program, John Sargent installed four spring developments and stabilized six stream crossings. He has installed more than 9,000 feet of stream bank fencing and planted four acres of tree and shrubs to act as stream buffers.

Sargent, on his own, made a roofed heavy-use area for feeding his animals during the winter months. In addition, Sargent uses a rotational grazing system throughout the pastures.

When asked how she likes the farm, Patricia Sargent responded positively. "I like it very much," but she admits to being semi-retired as far as farm work. She does not do much canning now as she did before.

The couple has one grown son, John, who no longer lives on the farm. Instead, he is a school teacher.

According to District Manager Gary Stokum, the farm is picture-perfect.

"It is beautiful," he said.

The 36-by-48-inch redwood outdoor sign presented to the couple by Stoy was made by the vocational agricultural department students at McGuffey High School. The couple also received a framed declaration of the award, presented by Slosky.

The 2008 Washington County Conservation District Awards Luncheon was held at the Holiday Inn in Meadowlands. In addition to directors, staff, associate directors and guests, notables attending were Washington County Commissioner Larry Maggi, DEP Regional Field Representative Chuck Kubasik and Jose Taracido, representing California University of Pennsylvania.

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