Thirteen years ago, with no real farming experience, Jon and Sylvia Bednarski purchased 35 acres at the headwater of Harrods Creek in LaGrange, Kentucky. Having grown up in rural America, Jon and Sylvia had a dream that their own children would share that lifestyle and grow up in similar fashion.
From the beginning, The Bednarskis had conservation foremost on their minds. With intentions of building a house and horse barn and starting a life on the farm, they mapped out plans to protect and preserve the natural resources in their care. They consulted with a county conservation agent, a state fish and wildlife biologist and the Kentucky Division of Forestry and began the hard work of cleaning up the land that had been neglected and overgrown for years. Invasive trees and vines were removed, pastures for cattle and horses were created and a pond was constructed. Jon spent his spare time learning how to manage a beef herd through the University of Kentucky Master Cattleman and Master Grazer programs.
Along the way, Jon and Sylvia added a shallow stream-crossing, winter feeding pads, rotational grazing practices and prescribed grazing. They introduced better quality grasses and adopted other practices to keep the cattle happy and healthy.
Through their stewardship and good management practices, the Bednarskis took tired, unproductive land and transformed it into the foundation of a profitable cattle operation. By mid 2005, their hard work started to pay off. The family began to direct market their Belted Galloway beef through a number of farmer’s markets, and later, through a chain of four stores, multiple restaurants, online sales and a retail store.
The Bednarskis added 15 acres to their farm and purchased another 100 acres in Henry County where their conservation practices carried on. With a mix of woods, water and open areas, the land is now teeming with wildlife including wild turkey, songbirds and whitetailed deer – living proof that the once overgrown land has healed.
Away from the farm, Jon Bednarski serves on the Oldham County Conservation District, on the Cooperative Extension Council and in other industry leadership roles.
“Those responsibilities as well as working on my own farm have made me more aware of how important environmental stewardship is,” Jon Bednarski wrote in their Leopold Conservation Award application. “I believe more than ever before that what happens on my farm and other farms has a great impact on our neighbors, our community and beyond.”