Leaders in Sustainability: Jon & Sylvia Bednarski, Sherwood Acres Farm
Sherwood Acres started as a dream for Jon and Sylvia Bednarski in 2000, when they purchased 35 acres of unimproved land along Harrods Creek in Oldham County.
Jon, who grew up in Vermont, spent summers working on his uncle’s dairy farm giving him his first interest in agriculture and the land. In 2003, the family purchased three Belted Galloway heifers, marking the beginning of their farming enterprise. Over the next several years, Jon developed Sherwood Acres and a beef program where they sell meat direct to markets in the Louisville metropolitan area. As the farm grew to 150 acres and 50 cows, so did Jon’s commitment to sustainability.
The Bednarski’s cattle are raised on pasture for 20 to 24 months and are then processed. They use a rotational grazing system where the cattle are moved every four weeks. The cattle are fed in a smaller area during the winter, and the manure is collected and composted. Due to their location along Harrods Creek, they make sure that the cattle do not contaminate the water by setting back fences and only allowing them to cross the stream when absolutely necessary. Since 20 to 25 percent of the farm is woodland, Jon enrolled those acres in the Conservation Reserve Program and met with the Kentucky Department of Wildlife to map out a plan to ensure they could protect the wildlife from nearby housing developments.
Jon gained much of his farming and land stewardship knowledge through the University of Kentucky’s Cooperative Extension Master Cattlemen, Master Grazer, and Master Stocker programs. He also serves on the Oldham County Conservation District board and is a leader in a number of other agriculture organizations. In 2011, Jon received the Oldham County Master Conservationist Award and the Kentucky State Master Conservationist Award in 2012. Sherwood Acres was also the inaugural winner of the Kentucky Leopold Conservation Award in 2013.
“Because of our location to the metropolitan area,” Jon said, “we play a large role to what is happening with conservation, and it is important to do the right thing for everyone.”
The Kentucky Agriculture Council and the Kentucky Association of Conservation Districts recently announced they are taking applications for the 2016 Leopold Conservation Award Program, which honors the outstanding soil and water conservation practices of our Kentucky farmers. This article is part one in a series share the stories of the winners and finalists from the past three years.