The Patrick Soil and Water Conservation District Board of Directors and staff nominated and presented Benton Culler and Michael Culler of the Ararat community with the Patrick County Clean Water Farm Award.\r\nThe Clean Water Farm award was established to provide special recognition to farmers who demonstrated a strong commitment to natural resource conservation through the implementation of best management practices and management of their lands. The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation was given lead responsibility for program development and administration and the department relies upon Soil and Water Conservation Districts to select worthy recipients within their communities.\r\nBenton and Michael Culler operate cow\/calf pair farms in the Ararat and Bell Spur Communities of Patrick County in both the Yadkin and Dan River Watersheds along the Blue Ridge Parkway.\r\nBenton and Michael are a father and son farming operation that take great pride in continuing a family tradition of farming. They both work full time jobs and spend their weekends and evenings working on the farm. Benton works for the Mount Airy City Police Department and his son Michael is an agricultural teacher for North Surry High School.\r\nThey decided a couple of years ago that it was time for them to get their cattle out of all of the streams on their farms. They also decided they wanted to do most of the work themselves. With cost share assistance from the Virginia Agricultural Cost Share Program they got started.\r\nThey installed 21,000 feet of fence to create 19 grazing paddocks and to exclude their livestock from a wetland, over 9,000 feet of stream bank along the headwaters of the Ararat River, and all of their woodland on their farm. To provide their cattle with water they drilled a well, installed 7,300 feet of pipeline and 13 frost-free watering facilities.\r\nFour limited access stream crossings were installed to allow cattle and farm machinery to cross the streams without damaging the stream banks and channel.\r\nBenton and Michael are now reaping the benefits of all of their hard work. Their cattle are healthier than ever and enjoy rotating to another new field of grass. The Cullers are both very proud of their work and they\u2019re glad to do their part to help keep our waters clean.\r\nThe Cullers join many other area farmers that are protecting and conserving our natural resources along with past Patrick County recipients of the local Clean Water Farm Award which include: Pam Hall, Joey Epperson, Joe and Denise Clark, Dannie and Kathy Anderson, Larry Hutchens, Leon and Jane Stevens, John and Rose Wood, Marion and Glenda Cobbler, Ted and Brenda Kirby, B H Cooper Farm, Dewey Moss and Roger Wilson, Clarence and Darrell Mitchell, Chester Turner; and John F. Clark.\r\nThe Patrick Soil and Water Conservation District located in the USDA Service Center on Stonewall Court in Stuart, along with the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, are proud sponsors of the Clean Water Farm Award.\r\nIn Virginia, farmers voluntarily incorporate nutrient management and other environmental safeguards within agriculture operations as their contribution toward protecting water quality for citizens throughout the Commonwealth. There are 47 Soil and Water Conservation Districts throughout Virginia. To nominate someone for the Clean Water Farm Award, please stop by the Patrick SWCD office.