Steve and Diana Hobart have exemplified land stewardship through forestry and farming practices at their farm in Blanchard, Breakneck Ridge Farm. In addition, they have worked tirelessly to educate others and to help shape conservation management decisions at the local, state and federal level. The Piscataquis County Soil and Water Conservation District (PCSWCD) will present the Hobarts with a Lifetime Achievement Award on Saturday, September 16th for their contributions to natural resource stewardship and for sharing their knowledge and guidance with so many over the decades. We extend an invitation to the public to join us in honoring their achievements.
Steve and Diana Hobart started Breakneck Ridge Farm in 1979. Steve’s grandparents, Paul and Ruth Hobart, had acquired several parcels of forested land, which Steve and Diana added to and now make up the 950-acre farm. Breakneck Ridge Farm is comprised of 45-acres of open fields with the rest of the land being maintained under a Forest Management Plan. Over the years, the Hobarts grazed fallow deer, Hereford cattle and then American Buffalo on the fields, and produced maple syrup from the well-managed maple trees around the property. Steve and Diana opened their farm to the community on Maine Open Farm Days, to local school children, community organizations and to the PCSWCD’s youth programs, providing countless learning opportunities to the public.
Steve and Diana have been involved in several natural resource conservation and sustainable agriculture organizations. The Hobarts worked with other deer farms to form the New England Venison Cooperative and followed in Steve’s grandfather’s footsteps to become a certified tree farmer. Steve has served on the board of supervisors of the Piscataquis County Soil and Water Conservation District, worked with the American Tree Farm System’s Maine Tree Farm Committee to bring statewide publicity to commendable tree farmers, was a founder and member of the Forest Products Marketing and Management Association and served on the Maine Association of Conservation District’s Executive Board. Diana taught in the Guilford school system, taking every opportunity to expose her students to natural resource education in and outside of her classroom, including the PCSWCD’s Demonstration Forest.
The Hobarts have received many honors over the decades for their work caring for their land. Steve and Diana were the 1980 Marketing and Management Association Operator of the Year. In 1992, they were recognized as Outstanding Tree Farmer in Piscataquis, Franklin and Somerset counties. Because of their exemplary forestry practices, they were chosen as Maine’s Outstanding Tree Farmers of the Year in 1995. The outstanding conservation practices that they have implemented in cooperation with the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) resulted in the Hobarts being recognized as the PCSWCD’s Cooperators of the Year in 1990 and 2007. Diana was awarded the PCSWCD’s Outstanding Conservation Educator of the Year award in 2013.
According to the Hobart’s, “If you take care of the land, the land will take care of you.” In the case of the Hobarts of Breakneck Ridge Farm, this land that they have sustainably cared for has created a healthy ecosystem for farming and for wildlife. It has not only provided for them for so many years, but also fostered a love for the wilderness Maine experience in family, friends and visitors for several decades. PCSWCD Board Chair Gordon Moore noted that he “whole heartedly endorses the nomination of Diana and Steve Hobart of Breakneck Ridge Farm in Blanchard, Maine, for this Lifetime Achievement Award. Over the length of their stewardship the Hobart family has conducted outstanding silvicultural practices on their property which has proven beneficial in maintaining and enhancing wildlife habitat. The Hobarts are keenly aware of the unique position of their property with respect to wild salmon breeding waters and at the interface of the agricultural and woodland areas of the State of Maine. I believe that the Hobarts are an excellent nominee for this award.”
The Hobarts have implemented practices such as no-till seeding, management of high use areas, and sediment retention erosion control on their woods roads all to protect the soil and water. Forestry best management practices have helped the land to be self-sustaining. The Hobarts acknowledge that good conservation practices can be labor intensive and require an initial investment, but with the NRCS’s cost share programs, land can be managed in a sustainable manner. These practices will be highlighted on a tour on Saturday, September 16 with a rain date of Saturday, September 30, that will be led by Gordon Moore and Steve Hobart. This will be followed by a picnic luncheon and awards ceremony.
The cost for the tour and luncheon is $12.00. Please confirm your attendance by Monday, September 11 by calling (207)564 – 2321, extension 3 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org to pre-register. Pre-registration is required. The public is invited to register for this very special event to lend a hand to applaud the Hobarts for their Lifetime Achievement Award!