2022 Conservation Awards

The Greenville County Soil and Water Conservation District is pleased to announce our 2020 conservation award winners. These winners have gone above and beyond in their service to conservation in Greenville County.

Farmer of the Year - Danielle Pereira, Farm in the Wildwood

Each year we recognize a farmer who is conserving, improving the resources on his or her land. This year’s recipient did not start out to be a farmer.  Graduating from college she jumped straight into a successful career in human resources.

In 2015 a most unlikely thing happened- she whole heartedly and unabashedly checked her corporate career at the door and embraced agriculture.  All because of a little vegetable garden in the spring of 2014.  She had found her life’s work- growing food and helping others learn to grow food too.

She had just turned 30 and had 3 young children. She knew it would not be easy, but she jumped right in, tackling each new challenge.

She enrolled in Greenville Tech’s Sustainable Ag program to learn about soil, water and growing things.

Her small garden grew into an acre and a half.  Her farm is located in Piedmont and is dedicated to drawing people closer to the source of their food by inviting the consumer to discover for themselves the meaningful life experiences food offers when experienced firsthand in the garden.  Farm in the Wildwood opened its seasonal farm stand, garden supply and classroom event space last year.  The farm hosts a variety of classes and learning experiences.

Utilizing Environmental Quality Incentive Program funding, Danielle installed a high tunnel and will be installing drip irrigation a little later.  We are also working with her to develop a detailed forest management plan for her woodland.

I’ve worked with a lot of farmers over the years and installed many high tunnels across Greenville County. I’ve not had a farmer as excited to get one installed as Danielle.  As the finishing touches were being completed she was planting her first crop of lettuce and greens. And this past week harvested 13 pounds of greens!

Congratulations to Danielle on the 2023 Farmer of the Year award!

Urban Conservationist of the Year - Melanie Ruhlman, Save Our Saluda

The 2023 Conservationist of the Year is Melanie Ruhlman. Melanie is a water resources specialist with over 20 years of professional experience in watershed planning and management and currently serves as President of Save Our Saluda.

Over the years, the Conservation District has worked on many projects with Melanie. Educational signage on the Swamp Rabbit Trail near First Baptist was an early collaboration.

More recently, Melanie has spearheaded efforts by Save Our Saluda to reduce sedimentation, administer soil conservation grants, and implement watershed planning in the Upper Saluda Watershed.

Projects include cover crops, floodplain and riparian restoration, farm road stabilization, stream restoration, sediment basin construction, and drainage improvement and stabilization.

Farm equipment (a roller-crimper and no till seed drill) purchased through a grant has been donated to the District and is available for lease to area farmers to help facilitate regenerative farming practices.

Save Our Saluda is also working in cooperation with Naturaland Trust to develop a demonstration site for agricultural best management practices.

Melanie has made major contributions to conservation in Greenville County and we are pleased to present the Conservationist of the Year award to her.

Educator of the Year - Berea Elementary Outdoor Learning Team

Join us to honor Mary McGowan, Tiffany Herndon, and Tom Miller – the outdoor learning team at Berea Elementary. The mission of Berea Elementary is to inspire, nurture, and educate our students as individuals, while encouraging positive relationships between school, family, and community. One way that this team fulfills this mission is through their Outdoor Learning Center and Nature Trail.

It was this program that brought Berea Elementary to us at the Conservation District. To enhance their garden program, the team requested a mini-grant to add a composting program utilizing scraps from the school cafeteria and groundskeeping waste. We awarded them a grant of almost $300 to implement this program and have now had the opportunity to visit the school with a composting program and a vermicomposting program for their students.

The composting program increased their already significant programming aimed to connect students with agriculture and the outdoors. Some of the ways that the team has engaged students and families:

  • Development of seasonal vegetable garden with crops benefiting school staff and being used on menu items in school cafeteria and student involvement in all gardening processes including planning, preparing, planting, sustaining, and harvesting
  • Seed starting & plant rooting to maintain current garden as well as begin propagating plants to be installed on the school's nature trail
  • Installation of efficient irrigation system to ensure proper maintenance of plant beds & reduce water waste
  • Use of environmentally friendly soil amendments & fertilizers
  • Addition of two composters for collection of cafeteria food waste, with grant funding and 5thgrade science lesson presentations on decomposition and life cycles from Greenville Soil & Water
  • Development of bird & butterfly friendly flower garden with an emphasis on enhancing the wildlife habitat
  • Restoration of 0.4 mile school nature trail for outdoor instructional use, with community volunteer support and grant funding from America Walks
  • Student planting of 10 trees on school campus with environmental science lesson presentations and trees provided by Trees Upstate

Greenville Soil and Water is proud to support the Berea Elementary programs and to award them the Educator of the Year award.

Congratulations to our 2022 conservation award winners!

Farmer of the Year

Farmer of the Year Winners

Formerly known as Cooperator of the Year

1968               Hoke Smith
1970               Charles Jones
1972               Ralph W. Blakely
1973               Hoke Smith
1974               Lem Dillard
1975               Ben Dillard
1976               J.P. Kellett
1977               L.L. Hyder
1978               Billy Ledford
1979               John F. Lynn, Jr.
1980               Frank Ferguson
1981               Keith Merck
1982               Phillip G. Smith
1983               J. A. Goodwin
1984               Richard T. Donald
1985               Grady M. Jones
1986               Thomas D. Cooper
1987               Dr. W.N. Gressett
1988               Clyde & Carl Chapman
1989               Maurice B. Henson
1990               Artie McCall
1991               Frank Ferguson
1992               Robert Estelle – BJU Dairy Farm
1993               L.L. Hyde Farms
1994               Tommy & Charles Fisher – Fisher Brothers Farms
1995               Joe Burdette
1996               Charles Max Laye
1997               Dr. George Smith
1998               Shirley Brown & Doris Blackmon - Famoda Farms
1999               J.D. Dill
2000               Dr. William Gressette
2001               Tom Trantham – Twelve Aprils Dairy
2002               Mark Turner
2003               John Kuykendall
2004               Stephanie Clark – Riverdale Farms
2005               Jerry Munns – Big Sky Farm
2006               Charles Cox
2007               Bob & Claire Bradbery
2008               Bobby Rice – American Breeding Services Global
2009               Tim Ayers
2010               James Brannan
2011               Donnie King
2012               Davis Dairy
2013               Arthur M. (“Mickey”) Fisher – Granjammer’s Farm
2014               Tankersley Brothers
2015               Wilson Farms
2016               Sam Howard
2017               Debbie Roe
2018               Bryan and Margaret Harrison
2019               Jim Blackwell
2020               Eugene Roe
2021               (no awards - pandemic)
2022               Danielle Pereira - Farm in the Wildwood

Urban Conservationist of the Year
Educator of the Year