The Haywood Waterways Association has spotlighted the farm efforts of Bill Holbrook, a farmer in the Bethel community.
Holbrook, who owns Cold Mountain Farms, is part of six generations who have farmed on the family land.
Holbrook says that he runs his farm operation as an efficient and productive business, but the way he does it attests to the strong ties to the river and what it has meant to his family over the years.
The state some years ago awarded Holbrook its River Friendly Farmer recognition as part of a statewide initiative that recognizes farmers who help to keep North Carolina’s rivers, lakes and streams clean. To be awarded this honor, a farmer has to do a double duty by using sound economic and environmental farming practices that protect and improve the precious water and soil resources for future generations.
Among other protections, Holbrook added an inventive system to his farm so that he wouldn’t lose chemicals sprayed on his 36 acres of crops as he filled tanks with water at the river’s edge. The pit holds any runoff from the tank and cleans the water before it is returned to the river.
The River Friendly Farmer Program makes sure that farmers who protect and preserve natural resources while making their living are publicly recognized for going the extra mile. These farmers provide their local Soil and Water Conservation districts with valuable information about the watershed that feeds the land they farm, as well as how they are improving the quality of the water that leaves their farms and flows into other areas.
“Farming has always been about surviving disease and weather,” Holbrook said. “But it’s also about being resourceful and creative.”