Copper’s Hawk Vineyards
The Winner of the 2021 Conservation Farm Award was announced at the Essex Soil & Crop Improvement Association (ESCIA) Annual Meeting on Thursday, December 2, 2021. The award is presented each year to the farming operation which best display’s conservation minded farming practices from those nominated. The farms are graded on tillage practices, crop rotation, chemical use and storage, knowledge of fertility programs, Best Management Practices and overall farm maintenance. The winner is determined by a committee of Directors from the Essex Soil & Crop Improvement Association. This year the winner of the Conservation Farm Award is Cooper’s Hawk Vineyards of Harrow.
Cooper’s Hawk Vineyards have established many conservation practices on their fields over the years.
Over 7000 trees have been planted on 8 acres in the forms of shelterbelts and windbreaks. A wetland was also constructed on 3 acres. A community planting event established native wetland plants, prairie seed, shrubs and trees on the berms around the one acre wetland feature. The remaining area was surrounded with native trees and shrubs, prairie grasses and forbs.
The vineyards are tended using minimum herbicide applications, and a compost made from the by-products in wine making process as a soil amendment, as well as annual applications of SMS, (spent mushroom substrate) from Highline mushrooms. Field management practices on their grain fields incorporate minimum/no till management systems with cover crops to reduce soil erosion and promote soil health. An adjacent creek is protected and buffered with a 30 foot riparian grassed strip. And field tile outlets were constructed with rip rap stone and are regularly maintained.
Cooper’s Hawk Vineyards is owned and operated by Tom and Katy O’Brien and Debbie and David Meloche. They have used funding from the Essex Region Conservation Authority’s Clean Water ~ Green spaces program, and the Essex County Stewardship Network program, to implement many of the Best Management Practices on his farm.