Dean Family, Williams County

OFBF family receives national water quality award

“Cover crop technology … feeding the world through healthier soil.” When it comes to water quality and environmental stewardship, the Dean family in Bryan lives up to its business motto.

The Williams County Farm Bureau members are recipients of the National Association of Conservation Districts’ 2019 Conservation Award for conserving the nation’s natural resources. 

“It’s kind of neat to be recognized as a leader in soil health and water quality because both of these are very important to us and all farmers,” said Allen Dean, a first-generation farmer who helps run the family business, Dean Farms Cover Crops, LLC.  The Deans work closely with Williams Soil and Water Conservation District, even offering to host its annual field Technology Day when the district’s budget was cut.

The family first experimented with cover crops in the early 1980s with hairy vetch following wheat harvest. After many years of using various cover crops on their farm, they started their cover crop business, which is now a warehouse and dealer for Saddle Butte Ag in Oregon.

“We realized there was a need out there for cover crop seed and that there was a great opportunity to teach people about cover crops. Farmers are concerned about soil erosion and water quality and using cover crops can help,” said Dean, who uses a cover crop blend of 18 species. 

While the family has used cover crops off and on for decades, Dean said many farmers didn’t incorporate cover crops into their operation until recently. He praised Ohio Farm Bureau and other groups for getting the word out about how cover crops can help a farmers’ bottom line as well as be beneficial for the environment. He said he was encouraged by the large number of farmers attending informational meetings about Gov. Mike DeWine’s H2Ohio water quality plan for the state.

“There have been a lot of meetings going on with the H2Ohio initiative and heavy attendance,” he said. “It’s taken a long time to get to this point and we need to continue to challenge ourselves to have healthier soils, which will transition into healthy food.”

Photo caption: Williams County Farm Bureau members the Dean family of Dean Farms Cover Crops, LLC. were recently awarded the National Association of Conservation Districts’ 2019 Conservation Award for conserving the nation’s natural resources. Allen, Shelly, Carol and Tony Dean, whose business is located in Bryan,  work closely with Williams Soil and Water Conservation District. They even offered to host their annual field Technology Day when the district’s budget had been cut. The family attended the NACD award ceremony in Las Vegas in February.