A weekly blog for all things conservation
By: Nathan Dewing, Agricultural Team Leader, Bradford County Conservation District
Sustainable food production and distribution is getting people’s attention today. Thankfully, we have had leaders among us who haven’t taken this for granted. Let’s remember some.
Two local leaders who knew that sustainable food production required a vibrant soil resource, were Mr. Gerald Warner, an East Troy machinery dealer, and Mr. Edward VanDyne, a Troy area orchardist and free-lance writer. The two were instrumental in organizing a 1955 town-hall meeting in Wysox, PA to discuss soil conservation.
This meeting promoted enough interest to petition county commissioners J. Lloyd Loushay, Ben Ballard, and John E. Snedeker, who on November 13, 1956, resolved as follows: “Whereas the Board of County Commissioners of Bradford County have determined through petitions and meetings with interested farm groups, that the Conservation of soil resources and control and prevention of soil erosion are problems of public concern in the said County, and that a substantial proportion of the rural land owners of the County are in favor of establishing a soil conservation district, pursuant to Act of Assembly of 1945, May 15, P. L. 547. The Board of County Commissioners of Bradford County does hereby declare the County of Bradford to be a soil conservation district pursuant to the said Act of Assembly and for the accomplishment of the purposes and policies therein provided.”
Five dairy farmers led the newly formed conservation district during its infancy: Commissioner Ben Ballard oversaw an exemplary dairy farm in East Troy. Mr. Harold Woodard was instrumental in beginning watershed restoration efforts in the Bentley Creek watershed. Mr. Alfred Durand operated a prominent dairy farm in Herrick Township and owned a dry goods store in Towanda. Mr. Gus vonWolffradt was an active Grange leader and went on to serve two terms as Bradford County Commissioner. And Mr. Richard VanNoy, also of East Troy went on to Harrisburg, working for Grange and PA Department of Environmental Protection, where he remained involved in conservation his entire career. In their first year these leaders had over 60 farmers working to improve soil management practices on their farms!
Since that time, 30 more men and women have served as conservation district directors to promote natural resource conservation in Bradford County. Some of these volunteers served in leadership for over 30 years!
We have lost some of these earlier food production and natural resource leaders. We miss them, and we thank them for looking ahead and acting before there was a crisis. Have we learned from them? I hope so. Some say, “They don’t make ‘em like they did in those generations.” That is true in many ways, but I believe today’s leaders young and old will help develop even more healthy and more functional food production and distribution. For now, we simply remember those who have gone before. Thank you for leading.
The Bradford County Conservation District is committed to helping people manage resources wisely. You can visit the Bradford County Conservation District at 200 Lake Rd in Wysox across from the Wysox Fire Hall. Contact us at (570) 485-3144 or visit our web page at www.bccdpa.com.
Various staff at the Bradford County Conservation District