Leaders in Sustainability: Charlie Williams, West Wind Farm

Known to his neighbors as “the tree man,” Charlie Williams owns and manages West Wind Farm, just about 15 miles from the geographic center of Kentucky.


His long history of forest management began when he was 12, when his grandfather presented him with a deed to a 90-acre woodland—part of a tract originally purchased by Charlie’s great-great-great-great  grandfather, Andrew Lang, in 1796. Today, West Wind Farm includes 1,100 acres of Lang’s original tract, and Williams has planted more than 75,000 trees on the property.

Charlie works with the staff of the Kentucky Division of Forestry, and they believe he is a shining example of a conservationist. His concern for the environment has also led him to support the Bacon Creek Watershed Council of the Kentucky Waterways Alliance, as well as serving on the Board of Directors of the American Cave Conservation Association.

“You need to use idle spots in the land to discover the treasurers of the soil,” said Charlie. “In a biotic enterprise, you must always let ecology trump economics. That is the only way you can reach a place where you can revere the stability, integrity, and beauty of the land.”

In addition to sustainable management of his land, Williams takes pride in educating the next generation of woodland owners and conservationists. He has held more than 4,000 Forestry Field Days—a day of work and learning—on West Wind Farm.

“If you can teach young people who come to your farm that day something they never knew about trees, you’ve had a successful Forestry Field Day. If you’ve taught them well, they will teach others,” Williams said.

“Sustainably managing my woodlands for water, wildlife, wood, and recreation, which is the tree farm mission, has been a lifetime of meaningful and fulfilling work and play. For me, and all the tree farmers I know—our commitment to sustainable forestry is the cornerstone of our belief system,” Williams said.

West Wind Farm Receives 2015 Leopold Conservation Award

You may also be interested to read about Jon and Sylvia Bednarski, owners of Sherwood Acres Farm in Oldham Co.