Linda Rinta honored with award for conservation
Cranberry grower Linda Rinta and the Rinta Family Farm of West Wareham are the New England Leopold Conservation Award recipients for 2020.
The award honors people who inspire others with their dedication to conservation of the land, water and wildlife resources in their care.
John Piotti, president and CEO of American Farmland Trust, said Rinta was selected for the award based on the implementation of “innovative water-use conservation practices in the water intensive production of cranberries” and the farm’s prioritization of “pollinator habitat and protection of pollinators from pesticides.”
“What distinguishes Ms. Rinta is not only her long history of sustainable land stewardship but also her achievements in educating others and making it easier for other stewards to follow their dreams and connections to the land,” said Bob Perschel, Executive Director of New England Forestry Foundation.
Rinta manages the farm, grows and sells beach grass and plans to continue conservation planning work. On top of cranberry farming, Rinta also raises honey bees.
She has planted acres of habitat for native bees and other insect pollinators and protected pollinators from pesticides.
A renovated irrigation system on Rinta’s farm reduced water usage. Because of Rinta, the farm also adopted two critical cranberry water-use conservation practices: tailwater recovery ponds and bypass canals, which are considered industry standards for efficient and conservation-focused cranberry farms.
The farm has faced hurdles, however, even as strides were made on the conservation front. Rinta said in 2018 two major challenges hit the farm like a tornado. Rinta’s husband passed away and the prices of cranberries dropped.
“My husband, the manager of our farm, the man who could and did fix everything, and supported and promoted all of my conservation efforts over the years, died without teaching us everything he knew,” she said.
Rinta said the family farm’s resilience was put to the test.
Even so, Rinta continued to show others the importance of conservation and how to achieve it themselves. A conservation planning service, which helps other farmers document their current and potential management practices, is part of her farm’s business.
“A deep commitment to not only the conservation practices themselves, but also the widespread sharing and teaching of a land ethic was paramount to Leopold’s legacy,” said Spencer Meyer of the Highstead Foundation and The Wildlands and Woodlands Initiative. “With her decades of influence on scores of conservationists and landowners, Ms. Rinta is a fitting recipient of this award and a fine exemplar of the Wildlands and Woodlands movement.”
Rinta will be given $10,000 and a crystal award as a reward for being selected.