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Stauntons win stewardship award

by Jill Aho, Herald and News 3/13/09

TULELAKE — Staunton Farms of Tulelake was selected by the National Potato Council to receive its annual Environmental Stewardship Award for continuing efforts in soil and water conservation and wildlife habitat creation..

The Staunton brothers, Sid, Marshall and Ed, farm about 5,000 acres in the Klamath Basin and focus much of their production efforts on potatoes, although the brothers also grow mint and alfalfa crops.

“It’s a high desert climate. We get cool nights and warm days, which is just perfect for potatoes,” Ed Staunton said.

In the late 1920s, Web Staunton obtained a 60-acre homestead in the Klamath Basin. In 1929, when Web lost all his money in the big stock market crash, farming became his primary source of income.

The Staunton brothers are committed to continuing the legacy that attracted Web Staunton to the area, which includes caring for the abundant wildlife.

Through participation in the Walking Wetlands, a project of the Tulelake and Lower Klamath national wildlife refuges, the Stauntons have helped provide sustainable wetlands and food for migratory birds. The Stauntons were some of the first private landowners to create wetlands on their own farmland, and make up the acreage by leasing between 70 and 100 acres of land in the wildlife refuges.

After water was cut off to Klamath Basin irrigators in 2001, the Stauntons found ways to conserve water by updating their irrigation equipment. With a four- to five-year rotation for their potato crops, the Stauntons report their inputs are lessened.

“Our chemical uses have decreased quite dramatically,” Marshall Staunton said.

The Stauntons plant winter wheat crops after the potato harvest to prevent erosion of the soils in high winds.
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