TANEYTOWN — It's easy to see the pride Charles Wiles and his family take in operating Maryland Deere Acres Farm.
The house and barns are tidy and painted a matching red. A half-dozen calves munch on hay in a small, neat shed. Inside the milking barn, the floors have been swept clean of mud and manure from the day's early milking.
Wiles, his wife, Patsy, and son, Alan, 21, run the farm themselves. Their lives revolve around it, and they're proud of what they do, Wiles said.
He grows corn and alfalfa on 100 acres, which have been permanently set aside for farming in the county's agricultural land-preservation program.
The family milks 55 to 60 Holsteins twice aday.
Since Wiles purchased the 120 acres in 1982, he has participated in government cost-sharing conservation programs to help preventsoil erosion and improve water quality in Big Pipe Creek, which runsalong the edge of his property.
For his efforts, Wiles was named 1991 Cooperator of the Year by the Carroll Soil Conservation District.
Cost-sharing has enabled him to complete many projects on his farm that he otherwise wouldn't have been able to afford, he said.
The state, for example, paid 75 percent of the $24,000 cost of constructing a manure pit in 1982, Wiles said.
The 100-by-40-by-8-foot pit acts like a septic system, preventing runoff from stored manure until Wiles spreads it on his fields as fertilizer, he said.
The federal and state governments will pay 50 percent to 87.5 percent of the cost of conservation projects, said Edward Null Jr., a conservationist at the Westminster office.
In 1991, Carroll received $396,648 from the U.S. government and $199,711 from the state, he said.
Wilesrotates crops, plants them in strips to reduce erosion and builds grass waterways that move water from the fields into drainage areas.
He has filled several ditches 10 to 12 feet deep to make 30-foot-wide grass waterways that help prevent erosion and increase the amount of land suitable for farming. He lays perforated black plastic tile under the grass to help water flow to the drainage area.
"I feel we've really improved our farm" with the conservation practices, said Wiles, 48, a Frederick native who has been farming in Carroll since 1968. "It just makes the place so much more productive."
Wilson Lippy, a Hampstead farmer who is chairman of the board of supervisors for the Carroll district, said Wiles was chosen for the award from among six nominees because he meticulously maintains his projects.
"He'sdoing an excellent job in the maintenance area," Lippy said.
Ed Sanders, a soil conservation technician who works with Wiles, said Wiles makes repairs when he first notices they're needed, which means the projects work the way they should.
In 1988, Wiles received recognition for his participation in a project to improve water quality inDouble Pipe Creek.
He is among 1,000 county farmers who participated in soil conservation projects last year, Null said.
"We're getting tremendous cooperation from the farmers," Lippy said.