David Neville is a man of many hats, too many hats he says jokingly – cattleman, organic farmer, environmentalist, U.S. veteran and inventor.
Neville, who owns the 258-acre Capstone Farm [PDF] in Henry County, says his three real stewardships in life are to the land, to livestock and to people.
Neville first gained notoriety as the first KY EXCEL Farm Program Member for his work in 2016 with 52 Kiko/Savannah cross goats in brush control on his farm. KY EXCEL is the Department for Environmental Protection’s environmental excellence program. It recognizes the voluntary environmental improvement projects of both the regulated and non-regulated communities in Kentucky. Last year, the program decided to add a new membership category for farms, and the KY EXCEL Farm Program was born.
Looking for weed and brush control around his fence rows, Neville decided to put his always-hungry goats to work after weighing the environmental and financial cost of pesticides.
“Wild cherry is a nemesis to farmers,” said Neville. “A mouthful of a wild cherry plant that is wilted will kill a large cow. Since goats eat these and other toxic and invasive plants, the need for pesticides is eliminated.”
Goats also enjoying munching on other plants that farmers try to remove from their land such as bush honeysuckle, poison ivy, poison oak, wild rosebushes and kudzu. Neville said when the goats begin to eat small cedar trees, their least favorite food, he knows they have eaten the toxic and invasive plants and are ready to move to another field.
After three years of using no pesticides and goats, Neville’s farms were certified USDA organic. “It is quite a process to become USDA certified organic,” said Neville. “This was years in the making.”
Besides raising beef, goats and growing organic hay in Henry and Shelby counties, Neville and his Capstone Produce Market also offer organic pastures for rental to dairy farmers and is taking on the hot dog industry in Kentucky with an alternative wiener that is finding purchase in the Commonwealth.
Known as Kentucky Dawgs, these dogs debuted at the 2016 Kentucky State Fair and have taken off since then. Renowned for their basis of removing junk filler and replacing it with hemp extracts, these dogs are now in over 50 Kroger’s across the state and are making their way into state schools, and even across the U.S. High in protein and low in sodium, these healthy wieners are filled with amino acids and Omega 3’s, 6’s and 9’s. The hemp gives the dogs a nutty flavor and a much better consistency than a normal dog, which is made mostly from scrap meat.
“When I was in the service, I spent some time in Germany and learned to eat good food there,” Neville said. “When it was time to go, I wanted to bring it home with me. With the Hemp Dawgs, they are comparable to a good German beef sausage.”
Neville and the KY EXCEL Farm Program were also featured in the Kentucky Pollution Prevention Center news blog article “KY EXCEL Now Open for Agriculture.”
The KY EXCEL Farm program
KY EXCEL Farm members receive one-on-one assistance in identifying activities that can increase profits while minimizing excess nutrient releases, conserving water resources, reducing energy consumption and more.
Being a KY EXCEL Farm member can increase the marketability of your farm and products or advocacy group. In addition to a wealth of information and assistance available, all members have the opportunity to use the EXCEL Farm logo on their promotional materials and website. If you are one of the first 25 farm members, you will receive a commemorative sign to display emphasizing your devotion to promoting sustainable farm practices. Additionally, all KY EXCEL members receive 50 percent off of environmental and compliance stewardship trainings. See what trainings are currently available here.
Find out more about becoming a KY EXCEL Farm member on the Division of Compliance Assistance KY EXCEL Farm website.
KPPC and KY EXCEL
The Kentucky Pollution Prevention Center is an Inaugural Leader Member of KY EXCEL. KPPC was recognized at the 2017 KY EXCEL Member Celebration in January at the Locust Trace Agriculture Center in honor of the 10-year anniversary of the KY EXCEL program.
Are you actively engaged in environmental stewardship or are you looking to make that first step? KY EXCEL offers a home for individuals, businesses and organizations looking to make a contribution to improving Kentucky’s environment. Find out more about KY EXCEL and becoming a member on the Division of Compliance Assistance KY EXCEL website.