A working farm and an outfitter are typically not synonymous activities on a single property in the Eastern United States.  North River Farms (NRF) and DB bar D Outfitters are two businesses that operate in unison on a working farm in Mills River, North Carolina to achieve a common goal: the education, preservation and conservation of farming, wildlife, and natural resources.  

OF(Photo by: www.wingedreel.com)

 

NRF offers tours to the property where agritourists are educated on various farming activities and the efforts implemented to grow and cultivate vegetables, row crops, livestock, and hay.  Along with these farming efforts, the tour attendees are introduced to the ongoing voluntary efforts of NRF known as Agricultural Best Management Practices (BMPs).  

These BMPs are standardized through the USDA: Natural Resources Conservation Services and are designed to benefit water quality and water conservation while maintaining agricultural production.  To ensure the farm is effectively implementing these BMPs, we seek out biologists and ecologists for consultations on the current BMP efforts.  

Our current BMP efforts are:

  • Water Resource Protection using riparian buffers, grassed waterways, rock lined outlets, cover crops, setbacks, and swales to reduce or prevent any sediment and nutrient transportation from field production areas to any water resource.

  • Nutrient Management which helps determine nutrient needs and sources, as well as nutrient applications to minimize impact to water resources.

  • Irrigation Management which helps reduce water and nutrient loss to the environment through implementing proven irrigating methods and scheduling.

DB bar D Outfitters works alongside NRF to showcase how modern farming and wildlife can coexist and thrive with concerted efforts.  Mills River, NC is in a watershed that often has heavy rains that will transport unwanted debris into the river from the surrounding area.  The outfitter and farm will have stream clean up days to comb the river and its banks for trash to throw away or recycle.  This cleanup is a responsibility we feel is necessary to keep our waters clean for its current inhabitants and for the future. 

 

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The outfitter has a permit through NC Wildlife which allows us to stock a limited number of trout in the river bordering our property.  Since stocking, we have seen an increase in the growth of the trout population and in the size of the trout.  More streamborn fish have been observed while the existing population has grown in size--this tells us the trout are reproducing as well as growing in length/weight.  

With the efforts of NRF and DB bar D to implement water resource protection procedures, the trout population should continue to thrive due to reducing sedimentation and increasing oxygenated water in the river.  To solidify this, a group of biologists have studied our water extensively and have concluded some interesting findings.  Their findings have been positive and support our Agricultural BMPs to protect and conserve water resources.  These findings show minimal erosion and sedimentation around agricultural fields, well oxygenated water, a healthy trout population, and a high concentration of thriving hellbender salamanders (cryptobranchus alleganiensis).  

The most telling finding that supports our BMPs is the high concentration of thriving hellbender salamanders.  Hellbenders breathe primarily through their skin and rely on cool, well-oxygenated, flowing water.  If the stream was full of sediment or runoff, which in turn would lessen the oxygen; the hellbenders would be negatively impacted and not able to thrive.    

We are proud of the farm’s and the outfitter’s efforts to set an example of ethical practices to protect our natural resources and the continued efforts to be stewards of healthy rivers which provide a habitat for aquatic species to thrive in, as well as an irrigation source to the vegetables we grow that are sold in grocery stores. 

Farmers are inherently conservationists and rely on natural resources to produce and be sustained for future use without interruption.  NRF implements these BMPs to benefit the farm and environment while demonstrating commitment to water resource protection.  

While the farm offers farm tours 6 months out of the year, the outfitter offers guided fly fishing, wingshooting, and big game hunting trips year round.  Each guided trip generates fishing and hunting license fees for NC Wildlife Resource Commission to help fund the state in its many conservation projects.   

 

OF3(Photo by: www.wingedreel.com)

 

It’s a joy as an outfitter for us to see our clients enjoy their time on the water landing fish of a lifetime because of North River Farm’s BMPs in the agricultural fields.  It is our commitment to continue to educate and inform on how to protect water resources, as well as set standards and examples for others to follow.