HAZARD — The Perry County Soil Conservation District has moved into a new building and will host a ribbon cutting ceremony next month.
The soil conservation district serves many functions in the county, and one of its main objectives is to build up quality soil for agricultural economic development. Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer is promoting the expansion of agriculture across the state, and especially in Eastern Kentucky. He has been a big supporter of turning former mine land into pastures for cattle and vineyards for wine.
All of this would be made possible by promoting healthy soil on these sites. Soil is created and maintained by natural processes such as growing crops that then deteriorate. By rotating crops and cattle, soil can be built up much faster than through reclamation alone.
This is part of what the soil conservation district does in the county. Board Chairman Bobby Brown said that they are involved in many different agricultural and conservation efforts.
On the wall of their new building is several paintings that help describe their mission including a quote from Theodore Roosevelt: “There can be no greater issue than that of conservation.”
A large mural across the back of the main meeting room shows a great number of different projects and interests of the group. The mural was painted by Karen Cornett.
“When we did it we wanted to incorporate the different practices that we are involved in,” said Patty Fugate the District Program Coordinator.
The mural shows Kentucky wildlife, waterways, plants, orchards, farms, bees, and the oldest building in the county, the Eversole Cabin. They will soon be adding cattle to the mural since they are doing work in promoting farm animals in the region.
The new building will act as the new home of operations for many of the projects the district will work on, such as helping people create new agribusiness. “We started a cost-share project in cooperation with the Department of Agriculture,” Brown noted. “We help get people set up in the bee keeping business.”
Another way they are helping people with agriculture is by promoting no-till farming, a method that utilizes just a slight disturbance of the fertile top soil to plant seeds, instead of turning over dirt and losing much of the top soil to the poorer soil underneath. This also helps to build up the soil and promote healthier pastures and fields.
The district also has grants and programs for education in schools. The grants can help bring groups like the Center of Science and Industry, or build outdoor classrooms to study nature. Many of the schools have taken advantage of these programs. Fugate also runs programs for classes teaching about soil and even wildlife tracking.
The district also hosts several giveaways during the year, including giving out trees to encourage reforestation and seeds for gardening. Brown said they are hoping to move these giveaways to this new office.
“We did all of those at the library, but we plan on doing all of those here,” he said.
The district’s new building is next to Ponderosa on Morton Boulevard. It sits in between the restaurant and the Hillside Theater, in the former Integrity bookstore.
The ribbon cutting and open house will be held to let the public know about all of the district’s and have people see their new space. It will be held Dec. 11 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The ribbon cutting will be at 12:30 p.m. For any information call Patty Fugate at (606) 435-1725.