Maryland 2021 Persistence Creek Farm Faulkner Leopold Conservation Award Recipient

Persistence Creek Farm

When the Warrings bought their farm in 2009, they set out to leave it better than they found it. Their Persistence Creek Farm has become a confluence of how farming, fishing and forestry businesses can benefit natural resources.

Healthier soil leads to higher crop yields. Cleaner water leads to higher crab and oyster populations. Agricultural conservation practices are good for the bottom line and natural resources.

The Warrings take soil seriously. They annually rotate crops of corn, soybean and sorghum to sustain soil fertility. They use no-till or minimum tillage on all fields to reduce run-off. Cover crops are planted on all fields to protect soil microorganisms. Nutrient management plans and annual soil tests minimize fertilizer inputs, and maximize yields by tailoring a crop’s nutrient needs.

Prarie Bloom 2

To enhance wildlife habitat and maintain productive forests, the Warrings have utilized financial assistance from the federal Conservation Stewardship Program, and technical guidance from a forester from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. By following a custom forestry plan, thinning acres of forestland has increased timber growth rates for future harvests, while boosting biodiversity and providing wildlife with food and cover.

Acres of shrubs, maple, pine and oak trees have been planted to reduce streambank erosion. Riparian herbaceous buffers that stretch 50 feet on each side of Ross Branch stream, capture nutrients from crop fields, improve water quality, and provide nesting habitat for wildlife.

Two acres of ponds and wetlands provide habitat for frogs, ducks and deer. Food plots of white clover, sunflowers, corn, and soybeans are planted annually. A self-described “flower geek,” Kevin Warring has planted five acres of wildflowers and native grasses in prairie strips to attract Monarch butterflies and other insect pollinators.

A stream crossing project involved re-sloping banks and installing concrete footers and riprap to reduce erosion. The long-term health of the Potomac and Wicomico rivers has been improved by the more than 100 million spat on shell (baby oysters) the Warrings have helped plant since 2014.

Kevin and his father Francis are both active members of the Charles County Waterman’s Association, which provides public and legislative outreach on fishery regulations. Both have served as associate supervisors for the Charles Soil Conservation District.

Next Generation Tracy

Persistence Creek Farm’s enrollment into a perpetual conservation easement permanently preserves its future use for agriculture and forestry, and limits housing or mining development.

Kevin, who has degrees in physics and economics, helped re-establish a FFA chapter in Charles County. The active Farm Bureau member has hosted farm tours for schools and legislators, and appeared on a national conservation-themed podcast.

Kevin also serves as a guide for youth hunting deer, turkey and waterfowl. He shows these hunters and their parents how conservation practices benefit wildlife.

Like Aldo Leopold before them, the Warrings teach others that wildlife is a natural resource that must be managed to ensure its long-term sustainability. They are believers in the inherent land ethic that Leopold first wrote about.

The Warrings say the day they signed the farm’s deed was a dream come true. Yet they are quick to note they are just temporary caretakers. Kevin says visible reminders of this are the arrowheads their children frequently find buried across the fields of Persistence Creek Farm.

Kevin And Lauren 2

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