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Solbergs honored as outstanding conservationists by Wadena SWCD

Photo provided Kent and Linda Solberg of Verndale received the Outstanding Conservationist award in December. Presenting the award to the couple was Paula Mohr, right, editor of "The Farmer."

Kent and Linda Solberg of Verndale were honored as outstanding conservationists at the annual meeting of the Minnesota Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts Dec. 5-7 in St. Paul. They were selected by the Wadena Soil and Water Conservation District for the award.

Each year, the state's SWCDs recognize individuals and organizations for outstanding accomplishments in implementing conservation practices and improving Minnesota's natural resources. The award program is conducted with support from "The Farmer" magazine.

According to Anne Oldakowski, Kent and Linda Solberg were recognized for a variety of reasons. Following is a summary of some of the reasons why Kent and Linda were chosen:

"Kent and Linda are more than willing to share their experiences, knowledge and skills with anyone interested in low input, grass-based farming. They noticed marked improvement in soil quality and forage health based on their conservation practices. Their farm is a training ground for future farmers. Kent and Linda have hosted an apprentice family from Brainerd for almost a year. They have also hosted numerous college level interns interested in sustainable agricultural practices. They have a way of teaching and mentoring to others that is unique and respected; they are known in the community as being hard-working stewards of their farm. Kent is most recently a part of a new Sustainable Food Production program through M State in Fergus Falls, where he serves as a lead teacher.

"Solberg's farm, Seven Pines Farm & Fence, is a grass-based, rotational grazing operation with dairy cattle, chickens and hogs. They milk 45 cows. They have between 100-150 laying hens and six brood sows which farrow spring and fall. Chickens are rotated through the pasture using a portable coop that follows the dairy herd. Hogs consume waste milk and produce from the farm, help convert winter bed packs to compost, which aids in building soil fertility and prepare sites for reseeding. Cattle are systematically outwintered on pasture. This outwintering aids in distributing manure, thus saving time and energy spreading it."

"We're really proud of Kent and Linda and what they have done for conservation in Wadena County," said Oldakowski. "Kent and Linda provide a wonderful example for others by truly showing what being a conscientious steward means and why it's important for central Minnesota."

For more information on the program, contact Anne Oldakowski at the Wadena SWCD at (218) 631-3195, ext 3.