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Lucas Young, part of four generations of farmers in Woodstock, was named a Soil Health Champion. Pictured: Dexter Young, Timothy Young, Lucas Young and Chase Young with his heifer Ivy.  Photo courtesy of Cabot Creamery Co-operative.

soil health
WOODSTOCK — Four generations, all Young, are planning for and chasing the legacy of their soils.
The Eastern Connecticut Conservation District (ECCD) announced that Lucas Young of Valleyside Farm was named a Soil Health Champion by the National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD).
ECCD worked with NACD to nominate Young, based on his extraordinary work to promote soil health management practices on the family farm and advance the adoption of these practices within the larger farming community. ECCD supports the work of Lucas by helping to publicize field days and farm tours, and by providing resources for other soil health related promotional activities.
Soil Health Champions are raising awareness about the benefits of soil health practices from the local level to a national one. Champions share their personal experiences using best management practices through the national network on a peer-to-peer basis and through NACD-hosted national meetings and events.
The land that Lucas manages has been in his family for 11 generations.  As dairy farmers, their cows, which consist of a 220 milking herd of Holsteins, are a treasured part of their farm. The quality milk they produce is shipped to make the Cabot dairy products.
The land the cows are raised on was originally part of a King’s grant, remaining in the family ever since it was deeded to his ancestors in the early 1700s. “We are blessed to be the caretakers and continue its long-standing legacy. As a multigenerational operation (four currently on the farm), our history drives our future and we are always looking for new technologies and ideas to keep our business sustainable and moving forward.  This year we are building our own creamery where we will bring a touch of our past back by selling our dairy products directly to our neighbors in the surrounding community,” said Lucas.
Lucas’ grandfather, Dexter Young, said: “Lucas wakes up in the morning thinking and talking about the legacy of the family and the farm.” Lucas’ determination to shape the family legacy is apparent in all that he does, from hosting soil health workshops to participating in research to study the best methods to germinate and manage cover crops as well as traveling to various regions to explore and learn from other leaders in the field.  Pursuing the family legacy has economic benefits, as well. According to Tim Young, Lucas’s father, the soil health practices they have adopted, “make the farm viable and sustainable for future generations.”
As field manager for the family farm, Lucas has been instrumental in converting Valleyside Farm’s practices to supporting soil health. Under Lucas’ leadership, Valleyside has implemented no-till farming and the use of diverse cover crops. Last year, with assistance from CT DEEP through Sec. 319 of EPA’s Clean Water Act, Valleyside purchased precision planting equipment to allow its cover crop to remain in the ground longer which helps to naturally feed the next crop.
“It is an honor to be chosen as a Soil Health Champion,” said Young. “Building soil health is essential if America is to meet the challenges of providing food, fuel, and fiber for a growing population here and abroad.  I encourage my fellow farmers to research methods that can improve farming practices all while keeping economics and sustainability in mind.  We are all unique due to the make-up of our lands but we can always learn from one another.”
“Lucas richly deserves this honor. He will be a stellar advocate in helping to increase adoption of soil health practices – his humility, when discussing soil, disarms the staunchest doubters,” said Dan Mullins, executive director of the District.
Lucas has also installed other conservation practices to help protect the environment.  Last summer, Lucas and his 13 year-old son Chase installed a woodchip bioreactor to remove excess nitrogen from tile drain discharge. Chase looked confident and regal as he steered the front-end loader into position. Surely the King’s grant will be left in good hands as four generations of Youngs pursue the noble enterprise of dairy farming while implementing soil health practices that will improve the farm’s soil quality and protect local waterways.
To arrange a speaking engagement, interview, field tour, or other activity with Lucas Young or the NACD Soil Health Champions Network, contact NACD’s Beth Mason at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or ECCD’s Dan Mullins at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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