Gene and Rose Thornton of Roanoke, Alabama have been named the Alabama Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) 2018 Small Farmers of the Year. An award plaque and an engraved special-edition clock were presented to the Thorntons by Alabama NRCS State Conservationist Ben Malone at the 75th Annual Alabama Association of Conservation Districts (AACD) Conference in Huntsville, Alabama on November 13, 2017.
The Thorntons own and operate Sneaky Crow Farm in Roanoke, Alabama. Over the last 13 years, the Thorntons have made a name for themselves throughout their community. A USDA certified organic operation, the Thorntons grow a variety of delicious fruits and vegetables such as strawberries, blueberries, okra and potatoes. The Thorntons’ roadside stand is among the 50 best roadside stands in the U.S. and is rated the top roadside stand in Alabama by Rodale’s Organic Life Magazine. They have also assisted in the establishment of several farmers markets in east central Alabama.
The Thorntons have demonstrated a commitment to growing with care and conservation by adopting farming methods such as cover cropping which help improve soil health. They have also successfully used Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) conservation practices to address natural resource concerns on their land. Additionally, the Thorntons make it a priority share their knowledge and experience with other farmers. In the last seven years, they have hosted eight field days, tours and workshops on their farm. The Thorntons’ commitment to conservation and community involvement is why they’ve been recognized as Alabama’s 2018 Small Farmers of the Year.
To learn more about the Thorntons, view their story here:
For more information about NRCS and its programs, visit your local USDA Service Center to determine eligibility. Individuals are not eligible for USDA programs until they have completed the Farm Bill eligibility requirements. Contact your local Natural Resources Conservation Service office or Farm Service Agency Office to begin the process.