Stockton's Headquarters Farm receives recognition

On Friday, May 4, Kara Hasko, Natural Resource Specialist for North Jersey Resource Conservation and Development Council (NJ RC&D), presented a River-Friendly Certified Farm sign to Roger Byrom at Headquarters Farm in recognition of the improvements he has achieved on his farm.

Byrom applied to the River-Friendly Farm Certification Program in 2011, aiming to make his farm more sustainable by integrating practices that protect the natural resources on his land.

"I joined the [River-Friendly Farm] program to do what is right for the farm and the environment," Byrom said. "I learned so much about stream health and management from [NJ RC&D]. The experience has been wonderful, and I am grateful to be a part of this select group of farmers and land managers."

Headquarters Farm is a stunning historic property with the Neshanic River running through it. The farm, built in the mid-1700's, is home to a flock of sheep cross-bred over the years to create the Headquarters Farm Romney/Romeldale/Jacob breed which are raised for meat production and sheepskin byproducts. Byrom raises and finishes his sheep and lambs on grass, as was customary during the time the farm was founded in the 18th century. He also rents out his flock to solar farms to provide a sustainable mowing service and for invasive plant species control. Roger sells his meats and sheep skin byproducts directly to the consumer at several local markets.

In 2012, Byrom installed streambank and shoreline stabilization practices, planting a riparian buffer and erecting livestock access control fencing near some sheep pastures with the support of the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Byrom independently fenced out the remainder of the riparian areas around the farm in 2017 in an effort to increase protection of the stream and keep the waters clean.

Some other examples of the best management practices that River-Friendly Farm managers have done on their land include improving manure storage, composting and spreading techniques; installing vegetated filter strips to slow and absorb farm runoff; and reducing bare-soil areas on the farm through by utilizing cover crops or attentive pasture management.

The River-Friendly Farm Certification Program recognizes farms that protect our shared natural resources through responsible land management. The program is voluntary, and farms are eligible to be designated as River-Friendly Certified Farms when they have demonstrated a commitment to protecting soil and water quality and other natural resources.

The Resource Conservation and Development Program (NJ RC&D) was initiated in 1962 to help people care for and protect their natural resources to improve an area's economy, environment and living standards. The program provides a way for local residents to work together and plan how they can actively solve environmental, economic and social problems facing their communities.