Agricultural runoff is one of the bigger pollution problems plaguing the Chesapeake Bay. Because of that, hundreds of farmers across the region are working with public agencies and private groups to fence livestock out of farm streams or plant riparian “buffers” of trees and grasses along stream banks. These and other “best management practices” produce healthier farm streams and healthier farms as well.
The efforts are paying off; since the mid-1980s, farm-based runoff pollution in the Bay has been reduced by half. Clearly there is still a long way to go, but progress is undeniable.
These three-day trips featured hands-on Bay exploration, education, and discovery, but the real focus was on farmers’ getting to know Tangier watermen, the islanders whose livelihoods depend upon clean water and a productive Chesapeake Bay. Informal discussions during the trips ranged from farming to fishing to water quality to life and family challenges. While the trips brought together men and women who live hundreds of miles apart, participants discovered they have much in common and that their worlds are more connected than they realized.
A new CBF video, “Farmers to the Bay – We’re All in This Together,” documents the program and shows how folks from very different walks of life can find common ground in clean water and a healthy Bay.
“The video dramatizes how we really are all in this together,” says Libby Norris, CBF Virginia watershed restoration scientist and coordinator of the island trips. “When you get them to sit down over a cup of coffee or a table of steamed crabs, farmers and watermen discover they are very much alike. Everyone wants to be able to raise a family and make a living in a clean, healthy environment. What Farmers to the Bay reveals is that, working together, we can all make a difference.”
You can watch the nine-minute video here.
The “Farmers to the Bay” video was produced by The Downstream Project of Berryville, Va., and was made possible with funding from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, with funds from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency through the Chesapeake Bay Stewardship Fund.
Another video take on efforts to reduce farm runoff comes from James Madison University student Lani Furbank. Lani produced the video this fall for "JMU Today," a student-run campus news program, and as a class project for a JMU course taught by veteran natural resource conservationist Bobby Whitescarver.
The three-minute video follows Whitescarver on visits to several Augusta County, Va., farms that are using soil and water conservation practices to reduce runoff and improve the health of streams and the Bay.
“More than 100,000 rivers and streams contribute to putting the Chesapeake Bay on the dirty waters list,” Lani says of the issues raised by her video. “Each area in the watershed has its own challenges.”
Whitescarver calls Lani “one of my stellar students” and has promoted her video among other students, friends, and colleagues. And he concludes, “A restored Chesapeake Bay will benefit all of us with more jobs and a healthier environment.”
Couldn’t have said it better. To watch Lani’s video, click here.
Chesapeake Bay Foundation