The Porter County
Soil & Water Conservation District (SWCD) announced the selection of Valmere
Farms, Jackson Township, as the recipient of this year’s Conservationist of
the Year Award. The 330-acre farm, owned and operated by Rick and Debbie
Matthys and family, includes pastureland, hay land, forest land with
beautiful, mature sugar maples as well as rented cropland.
“Even before Rick
came to the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) office to develop
a conservation plan, he had already implemented a tremendous amount of
conservation practices on his own,” said Derek Schmitt, USDA-NRCS District
Conservationist for Porter and Lake counties.
conservation practices for which the Matthys Family are being recognized,
are the enhancement of a prescribed grazing system and pollinator habitat.
Practices implemented to support the prescribed grazing system are multiple
watering facilities with water pipeline and interior fencing to keep the
livestock on a planned rotation. The rotation allows better vegetation
regeneration, helping with issues like nutrient uptake, sediment reductions,
and better forage quality. The pollinator habitat includes native grasses
and flowers that support hundreds of native insects including monarchs and
Rick is proud to
say it started with his grandfather Achiel Matthys. Achiel was a past Porter
County Soil and Water Conservation Board Member more than fifty years ago,
and his passion for conservation remains with Rick. The diversified family
farm produces beef, elk, maple syrup, and honey while making a conscious
effort to improve the environment.
The Matthys Family
will be recognized at the 67th annual meeting of the SWCD to be convened in