VASCI congratulates John and Carolyn Wheeler of Wheel-View Farm in Shelburne Falls for winning the 2022 Leopold Conservation Award for New England!
The Leopold Conservation Award is presented by the Sand County Foundation in Wisconsin in memory of the famous conservationist Aldo Leopold. Leopold was best known for his book, The Sand County Almanac. He wrote of the “Land Ethic,” the interconnectivity of all species, and the value of even the smallest plants. The award is usually given to one farm in each state, but there is only one award for all of New England.
Students in VASCI's Belted Galloway Cattle Management class have had the privilege of working with the Wheelers over the past decade. The Wheelers' devotion to thoughtful land and animal management and their continued investment in the acquisition of new skills and innovative technology have enabled them to grow and diversify their business into an exemplary model of farming at its best. Wheel-View Farm serves as an outstanding hub for outreach to students, farmers, and consumers in Massachusetts.
During field trips, Carolyn Wheeler emphasizes to students the importance of developing communication skills for modern farming and explains the importance of getting to know the consumers who purchase your farm products in order to build a devoted clientele. She also explains the importance of being able to effectively communicate farm goals in writing as a prerequisite to applying for farm expansion grants. John Wheeler talks about pasture rotation/soil health, methods of herding and fencing, safe handling of bulls, and competition in the growing grass-fed industry. Whether students plan to pursue farming as a career or simply learn about the current beef industry in New England, students leave the Wheel-View Farm as well-informed consumers with a profound respect and appreciation for the work of farmers. Upon arrival back on campus after a Wheel-View Farm visit, it is common to hear students remark, “I can’t believe they do all of that by themselves!” The Wheelers have a lasting impact on UMass students.
As recipients of Leopold Conservation Award, the Wheelers will receive a farm sign, a monetary award, an engraved crystal, a farm brochure, and a video (viewable at https://youtu.be/3FyxYEUbMLA). Their story will also be printed in a magazine with all the 2022 award recipients.
Congratulations to Carolyn and John Wheeler from the Department of Veterinary and Animal Sciences!!