Jeff and Christy Gibbs of rural Kilkenny, MN were selected as the Le Sueur County Soil and Water Conservation District’s 2019 Outstanding Conservationists.
The Gibbs manage an 800 acre farm. Their cropland is currently rented out and is planted to corn and soybeans. They also manage a hog operation with space for 7000 pigs.
Jeff grew up working on the farm with his father, Don. They raised chickens, dairy cattle and pigs. Jeff, being the eldest son, was groomed to eventually take over the operation. He was taught to farm the land that they were given, even if marginal. They were blessed with the land they had and learned to manage it with the tools available at the time. Through hard work and sacrifice they felt successful with their efforts.
Over the years the Gibbs’ started working with the soil and water conservation district and began installing best management practices to preserve the soil on their land. Terraces, windbreaks and farming on the contour of the fields were some of their early practices. As time went on, they increased their hog operation and made that their main focus.
This past year Jeff and Christy made the decision to enroll 48.25 acres of cropland into the perpetual Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program through the State of Minnesota. Within the easement 3 individual wetland basins were restored. Native vegetation were established within the upland acres. With the Gibbs’ land making up a major portion of the Lake Volney watershed these wetland restorations will significantly reduce runoff of sediment and nutrients, allow valuable water storage and create habitat for wildlife.
“Farming has definitely changed over the years”, Jeff commented. “Soil and water conservation has become a high priority for our farm.” Filter strips along the ditches, grass waterways, and enrolling into the CRP are some of the things that Jeff and Christy have done to protect their soil from eroding. They also sold over 53 acres to the DNR, on the south side of Lake Volney for environmental protection of the lake.
Jeff and Christy have 4 grown children who were raised on the family farm. “It was a pleasure for our children to be raised around family and farming”, Christy said.
The Gibbs will be honored in December at the annual Minnesota Association of Soil and Water Conservation District’s convention that is held in Bloomington. The Farmer magazine will present them, along with other counties outstanding conservationists in the state, with a certificate for their dedication to conservation.
Le Sueur County Soil And Water Conservation District