April is Water Conservation Month
We are pleased to partner with the St. Johns River Water Management District (SJRWMD) to increase awareness about the importance of water conservation with our annual Water Conservation Month Proclamation.
This spring is a great time to check your automatic sprinkler system to make sure it is functioning properly to conserve water. Here are some tips to help:
Other great resources recommended by SJRWMD:
The Duval Soil and Water Conservation District would like to thank April Thomas for her contributions to our organization, and especially the S-Line Regeneration Park Project. April was part of the University of North Florida's (UNF) Environmental Leadership Program. In Fall 2021, she and her cohort participated in leadership training and a retreat through UNF. This is also when different organizations participated in an online interview to match students with their community partners. April was matched with us and met with Duval SWCD's Urban Agriculture Coordinator, Alison O'Donoughue, to discuss the plan for her project.
April's project began in the spring. She was tasked with helping develop and advertise the mulch spreading work day and pollinator garden workshop. April researched pollinator plant species, discussed the plant palette, assisted in spreading mulch and planting at the park. She also created a multi-media presentation of the progress of the Regeneration Park Project using photos and videos collected by supervisors and staff over the course of 10 months. Finally, as part of the UNF requirement, she created a poster about her experience and will be presenting it at a future conference.
Thank you again, April! If you're interested in learning more about the UNF Environmental Leadership Program you can visit their website here. If you'd like to volunteer or intern with the Duval Soil and Water Conservation District, feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Applications are now open for the 2022 Start Farming Mentorship program! The goal of the mentorship is to empower Duval County residents with the tools and information necessary to start their own farm or agribusiness. In a mix of in-person workshops, virtual training, and on-site farm tours, mentees will learn about sustainable farming practices, resources available to start a farm and issues in farming practice. The program will take place from May to December, 2022. To receive a certificate of completion, mentees must attend at least 80% of programs offered.
An outline of the calendar of events is as follows:
May- In-Person Workshop on Water Conservation, Farm Tour of Juicy Roots
June- Virtual Workshop on Uprooting Racism in Food Systems, Farm Tour of White Harvest Farms
July- In-Person Workshop on Soil Health
August- Virtual Workshop on Florida Farm Bill
September- Farm Tour of Congaree and Penn, In-Person Pollinator Workshop
October- Farm Tour of Lola Farms
December- Panel Discussion & Holiday Market, Closing Celebration
The Start Farming Mentorship program is open to new farmers who reside in Duval County and are interested in starting a farm business. Preference will be given to past attendees of the District’s annual Start Farming events. Applications are only accepted online through this Google Form and must be submitted by April 16, 2022. Please note that there will be a small charge associated with this program. Additional details will be provided if you are chosen for the mentorship. If you have any questions or comments, please email us at email@example.com.
The Duval Soil and Water Conservation District is excited to announce that Allen Skinner of Soil Life Organics has recently been named a Soil Health Champion by the National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD)! Only the second Soil Health Champion in Florida and the first to be recognized in Duval County, Skinner joins approximately 300 members who practice positive soil health management and will help conduct outreach in their communities to improve soil health.
Skinner graduated from the University of Florida with a degree in Mechanical Engineering and practiced for over 20 years before becoming interested in soil biology. He is the founder and president Soil Life Organics, a local company that completes soil biology, structure and mineral assessments then assists in implementing programs to optimize soil performance. Since 2016, Skinner has been mentored by renowned soil biologist, Dr. Elaine Ingham. This spring (2022) he will complete his certification as a Soil Food Web Consultant. Skinner also serves on the board of Greenscape of Jacksonville, which is working to improve the urban tree canopy in Jacksonville FL. He recently completed a study at White Harvest Farms under a NRCS Conservation Innovation Grant. The study analyzed different farming methods using soil biology to reduce chemical inputs over the course of 3 years and has recently been published (short report here).
Duval SWCD has had the pleasure of working with Skinner, most recently helping to improve the soil quality at Regeneration Park. He performed an in-depth soil analysis of the site, made recommendations, then returned a few months later to inoculate the mulch with his company's special compost extracts all while sharing his extensive knowledge with the community and volunteers who attended the workshops.
Says Duval SWCD Chair, Jennifer Casey, “Allen has been a friend of the District for many years. His passion and enthusiasm for soil health has improved both public and private land while inspiring a new generation of land stewards in Duval County.”