Burgers and Brews for the Bay: Getting to Know Your Neighborhood Market

 Clagett Cow Panorama

Photo by Kellie Rogers.

Did you know that you can eat your way to a cleaner Chesapeake Bay? That’s right! A few weeks ago, we hosted our first Burgers and Brews for the Bay event at our sustainable Clagett Farm in Upper Marlboro, Maryland. Guests gathered on a beautiful fall Sunday to enjoy craft brews and local food while learning about the importance of local, sustainable food and how it reduces our impact on the Chesapeake Bay and its rivers and streams.

Photo by Emmy Nicklin/CBF Staff.

One event attendee recalled that she felt she had "stepped into a different world," surrounded by organic vegetables, herbs, and grass-fed animals. Clagett was the ideal location for the premier of this event as the farm demonstrates how agriculture can be made both profitable and sustainable.

Notable chefs traveled to the farm to feature grass-fed beef (provided by Clagett Farm Manager Michael Heller) in their own interpretations of gourmet sliders. Six food stations, each paired with a local craft brew, presented those sliders and other fresh ingredients like grass-fed lamb, organic herbs, and vegetables, all produced at the farm.

Today many people believe that we could not feed the world's growing population if every farmer were to switch to sustainable farming practices. But that simply isn't true. A research team from the Erosion, Technology and Concentration (ETC) group stated that contrary to popular belief, the global industrial food system uses 70 percent of the agricultural resources while producing a mere 30 percent of the world's food.

Photo by Emmy Nicklin/CBF Staff.

In contrast, what the ETC group calls "peasant food systems" (or food from local, sustainable farming) are responsible for 70 percent of the world's food with access to only 30 percent of the agricultural resources.

What's more, through more local, sustainable farming practices, the consumer is able to have a better, more personal connection with their farmer and their food. 

Burgers and Brews not only helped educate and connect event participants with their own "neighborhood market," it also highlighted the fantastic work of various, regional programs through educational tables set up around the farm throughout the day:

  • Capital Area Food Bank is the largest organization in the Washington metro area working to solve hunger and its companion problems. The food bank works with our Clagett Farm CSA to deliver fresh organic produce to communities in D.C. with otherwise limited access.
  • Future Harvest Chesapeake Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture (CASA) supports local and sustainable food through existing and prospective farmers. Future Harvest CASA shared their mission to provide education, networking, and advocacy to help build a sustainable Chesapeake foodshed.
  • Attendees could also learn about local and sustainable farming opportunities through our Maryland Grazers Network. The Network, started by Farm Manager Michael Heller, is a farmer-to-farmer mentoring program that pairs experienced livestock, dairy, sheep, and poultry producers with farmers who want to pilot or switch to rotational grazing practices. Grazers Network mentors spoke with visitors who were interested in the benefits of grass-fed products not only for their own health but for the health of the animals and the environment.
  • The Chesapeake Chapter of the Buy Fresh, Buy Local Campaign, which CBF coordinates, was on hand to promote local and sustainable food sources for the betterment of the community, economy, and the environment. The Chapter's Eater's Guide to Local Food in Maryland is a resource, which includes a directory of sustainable farms, locally sourced markets, CSAs, craft breweries, and farm-to-table restaurants.
Photo by Emmy Nicklin/CBF Staff.

Throughout the day at the farm, guests also enjoyed live music by local bluegrass band Fiery Deep. Clagett farm staff set farm equipment out on display nearby, while tractors pulled wagons for hay rides around the property. The six food stations featured Maryland, D.C., Delaware, and Virginia brews including Bold Rock Hard Cider, DC Brau Brewing, Devil's Backbone, Dogfish Head, Fordham & Dominion, and Mully's Brewery. The delicious food menu included items like the "Fire It Up" beef slider topped with spiced tomato sauce and fresh pesto, Moroccan ground lamb sliders with roasted garlic and tomato jam, and a pastrami and Swiss slider with local sauerkraut. Other farm staff cooked fresh homemade vegetarian and meat pizzas in the farm's clay oven. Children and adults sipped on local root beer floats in the main tent where rain barrels and Clagett's grass-fed meat were offered as raffle prizes. Next to the main tent, our Education Program entertained kids climbing on hay bales, painting pumpkins, and printing fish on T-shirts.

Most importantly, event participants learned of the health benefits of grass-fed meats, the major sources of agricultural pollution to our waters, and ways that farms can become more sustainable. Attendees returned to their own neighborhoods later that day, full from a day packed with fresh, local food, craft brews, and learning opportunities that offered insights into delicious ways to help Save the Bay.

—Kellie Rogers

Check out our Facebook Photo Album for more photos of this fantastic and educational day on the farm!


Photo by Emmy Nicklin/CBF Staff.

New Home on the Shore!

12241779_10153626730260943_4095302690820372387_nMore than 200 people came out to the new Eastern Shore Conservation Center in Easton last Wednesday evening for our oyster expo!

The dust is still settling, but the Maryland Eastern Shore Office team is officially moved in to our new home at the Eastern Shore Conservation Center in Easton, Maryland!

EasternShore-1The 23,0000-square-foot building complex is a LEED certified retrofit of an abandoned industrial facility built in the 1920s. Eastern Shore Land Conservancy (ESLC) bought and renovated the place with a vision to co-locate non-profit conservation and community groups in a downtown transitional neighborhood. It's smart growth and community development on steroids. Tenants currently include ESLC, CBF, The Nature Conservancy, Ducks Unlimited, Town Creek Foundation, and The Oaks of Mamre Interfaith Library and Graduate Center. 

The move came just in time, too! Last week, we kicked off our opening through an oyster expo celebrating all the amazing oyster restoration work happening on the Shore and around the Bay. More than 200 people came out to feast on fantastic food and drink, sample oysters provided by Hoopers Island Oyster Aquaculture Company, and learn about these incredible creatures of the Chesapeake.  

Next time you're in Easton, come out and see us!

—Alan Girard, CBF's Eastern Shore MD Director

Read more about the center on page three of our newsletter here

Our new address is:
114 S. Washington St., Suite 103, Easton, MD  21601

This Week in the Watershed

Flooding is just one of the many potential consequences from irresponsible development. Photo by Bill Portlock/CBF Staff.

Around the region, irresponsible developments are being approved at the risk of polluting our waters. These poor decisions are hitting a nerve. Last month, at a packed public hearing over the proposed rezoning of Virginia's Fones Cliffs, the vast majority of speakers spoke out against development. This week, more than 1,100 CBF supporters responded to our call to action, sending e-mails to Maryland's Board of Public Works voicing their disapproval for a Kent Island housing development on a wetland. Both of these proposed developments are examples of large-scale building in the wrong place, at the wrong time.

Despite this citizen protest, the outside developers won each time. Their shortsighted appeals of economic stimulus to the communities were chosen over the long-term economic benefits that a healthy Chesapeake Bay would provide. A recent study commissioned by CBF revealed that if the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint is fully implemented, it will provide an increase of $22.5 billion (that's billion with a "B") in natural benefits to the watershed every year. Talk about an economic stimulus.

Nobody ever said protecting the Bay would be easy. While clean water didn't win at Fones Cliffs or Kent Island this time, the fight isn't over. We won't back down.

This Week in the Watershed: Dirty Development, Farm Nutrients, and Oyster Love

  • Agriculture and fisheries management have collided with the recent boom of aquaculture in Maryland. (Daily Times—MD)
  • An irresponsible development on Kent Island called Four Seasons was approved despite citizen protest. (Capital Gazette—MD)
  • Dealing with the tons of chicken manure produced in Maryland every year is messy in more ways than one. But could it be used to produce clean, renewable energy? (Think Progress)
  • Nutrient management plans have a history of controversy, a theme that will likely continue with the Bay Program approving nutrient reduction credits for farms. (Bay Journal)
  • The Baltimore County Council unanimously approved phasing out the dedicated stormwater fee, while not providing an alternate plan for the county to pay for federally mandated stormwater remediation. (Baltimore Sun—MD)
  • Any oyster fan will love this editorial and its celebration of November as Virginia Oyster Month. (Free Lance Star—VA)
  • ICYMI: the Richmond County Board of Supervisors has voted to rezone Fones Cliffs, a treasured site on the Rappahannock River. (Bay Journal)

Lend Your Voice for Clean Water!

What's Happening Around the Watershed?

November 26

  • Watershed-Wide: Happy Thanksgiving!

November 30

  • The Internet: Cyber Monday is a great day to find online deals. Before you get started though, answer this—What if a simple click could help Save the Bay? Now it can. All you have to do is type www.cbf.org/amazon into your browser to shop on Amazon, and a percentage of every dollar you spend—no matter what you purchase—will go towards helping Save the Bay at no extra cost to you!

December 1

  • Watershed-Wide: Giving Tuesday is a global movement focused on giving, and it's the perfect opportunity to give something back to the Bay, the creatures that call it home, and your whole community. Click here to make a tax-deductible donation for our Bay on Giving Tuesday, and your gift's impact will be doubled!

December 2

  • VA Eastern Shore: Join CBF's monthly Citizen Advocacy Training to get a crash course on timely Bay legislative priorities and learn how they affect Virginia's Eastern Shore. This conference call will also allow time for you to ask questions and discuss opportunities to lend a hand or lift your voice for clean water. Contact Tatum Ford at tford@cbf.org or 757-971-0366 for more information.

December 5

  • Richmond, VA: Join us at the Virginia Conversation Network's General Assembly Preview. The event will cover topics like the Virginia Coastal Protection Act and the Clean Water Rule, with Delegate Lopez as the highlighted speaker. Lunch will be provided, but space is limited. Click here to register and learn more!

December 12

  • Virginia Beach, VA: With far more requests for speaker's than we have staff or time, CBF relies on its Speaker's Bureau volunteers to handle a variety of speaking opportunities. Whether you are current on the issues and ready to share our message, or just enjoy public speaking and would like to get trained, we welcome your commitment to this important and high-profile program. Join us to learn the facts and skills to share our mission to Save the Bay with local groups and organizations. Click here to register!

—Drew Robinson, CBF's Digital Media Associate

Photo of the Week: The Chesapeake Is Home

IMG_2059I took this photo of the Choptank River lighthouse at sunset on October 30, 2015. The Chesapeake is home to me.  I used to work on a workboat oystering  with my husband years ago. I still fish during the spring and summer off the shores of the Bay. I learned as a young person to respect and love the beauty of the Chesapeake Bay. I love to watch the wildlife, especially the majestic bald eagles. I volunteer at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge helping to save our wildlife and waterways of the Chesapeake Bay.

—Beverly Middleton

Ensure that Beverly and future generations continue to enjoy extraordinary places like these along the Chesapeake. Support the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint—the plan to Save the Bay! 

Do you have a favorite Chesapeake photo you'd like to submit to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's Photo of the Week contest? Send your digital images to CBF's Senior Manager of Digital Media, Emmy Nicklin, at enicklin [at sign] cbf.org, along with a brief description of where and when you took the photo, and what the Chesapeake Bay means to you. We look forward to seeing your photos!

Creating an Eastern Shore Haven for Migrating Birds

3.GeeseA flock of Canada geese seen traveling across a familiar wetland landscape, seeking food and shelter after their long journey from Canada to overwinter on the Eastern Shore. Photo by Bill Portlock/CBF Staff.

Fall is the season of movement and change. The days shorten, the weather shifts, the world changes color, and the skies are filled with newcomers and old friends alike. On the Eastern Shore of Virginia nature thrives all year long and transients flock in abundance.

With its countless tidal mudflats, dunes, marsh, miles of beach, vegetated plains, and maritime forests, the Shore provides critical stopover points for an array of migrating birds. In fact, our peninsula embodies one of the most important migration bottlenecks in all of North America. Eastern Shore parks, refuges, preserves, and national seashore add up to more than 78,000 acres of protected lands, and it's no surprise that the flora and fauna thrive accordingly. "Habitats here receive extremely high use by migrant land birds during the fall months and are considered to have some of the highest conservation values on the continent," says Center for Conservation Biology Director Bryan Watts.

Until about mid-December, a host of migrating birds pass through the Shore on their way from summer grounds in the Northeast and Canada to wintering spots in the Southeast and the Caribbean. In the fall, warblers, sparrows, blue jays, thrushes, robins, finches, and flickers are a familiar sight. Unfortunately, as many as half of all migrating birds do not complete their journey.

2.RobinHowever, we can extend our good old Eastern Shore hospitality to our feathered friends by providing a haven for weary winged travelers this season. Any yard can be transformed to help the more than 200 species of migratory birds hard wired to visit us every year.

Create backyard habitat by planting native grasses, flowers, shrubs, and trees. They will provide crucial food and shelter for birds. Eastern Shore native plants support both the rich tapestry of species that call the Shore home and those that use our lands as a crucial pit stop. Native plants also tend to have deep roots, so they stabilize soil and prevent polluted runoff from entering nearby rivers and creeks. In fact, including natives in the landscape is one of the easiest (and most beautiful) steps property owners can take to both provide wildlife habitat and reduce pollution in local waterways, notes Dot Field, Region Steward for the Eastern Shore Natural Heritage Program of the Department of Conservation and Recreation.

Additionally, planting native plants is just one of the many ways we can make progress toward Virginia's commitments under the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint, the action plan to clean up our waterways. "With native plants, we can help clean up the Bay while enhancing the environment and creating valuable bird habitat," says CBF's Senior Educator Bill Portlock.

Native plants also require little-to-no maintenance, so you won't have to worry about watering routines and there's no need to use fertilizers or pesticides. Those chemicals can be toxic to birds and also pollute waterways and kill insects that birds rely on for food.  

1.WarblerThere are many reasons we should lend a hand to migrating visitors, explains American Bird Conservancy President George Fenwick. "Protecting and helping birds is not only the right thing to do, it is also good for the economy and the future of our environment. Birds are invaluable as controllers of insect pests and as pollinators of crops, and also generate tremendous economic revenues through the pastimes of bird feeding and birdwatching," Fenwick says.

Virginia's Eastern Shore is nationally recognized as a birdwatching destination. More than 20 percent of the U.S. population participates in birdwatching, according to a recent federal government study, and about 20 million people travel annually to see birds. These birders spend about $36 billion a year in pursuit of their pastime, and support bird haven economies by frequenting hotels, local restaurants, and other attractions. In fact, at this year's Eastern Shore Birding and Wildlife Festival around Cape Charles, about 85 percent of the hundreds of registered participants came from distances that required overnight stays.

But migrating birds have value well beyond the incredible economic stimulus they provide. Observing traveling birds is one of the ways we mark the changing seasons and connect with the rhythms of nature, famed biologist and conservationist Rachel Carson wrote in her book The Edge of the Sea. "There is symbolic as well as actual beauty in the migration of the birds; in the ebb and flow of the tides; responding to sun and moon as they have done for millions of years; in the repose of the folded bud in winter, ready within its sheath for spring," she states. "There is something infinitely healing in these repeated refrains of nature, the assurance that night after night, dawn comes, and spring after winter."

—Tatum Ford, CBF's Virginia Eastern Shore Outreach Coordinator

Photos: A robin enjoying some native red cedar berries (top right); this yellow-rumped warbler, the most common wintertime warbler in Virginia, comes to us all the way from Canada. It has the unique ability to digest wax myrtle berries, allowing it to winter farther north than other warblers (top left). All photos by Bill Portlock/CBF Staff.

We're Halfway There: Horn Family, Delta Springs Farm

FarmThis is one in a series of articles about farmers in the Chesapeake Bay watershed who have implemented Best Management Practices (BMPs) to improve water quality and efficiency on their farms. As a result of these success stories, we're halfway to achieving the nutrient reductions needed to restore the Chesapeake Bay and its waters. View the rest of the series here.

At Delta Springs Farm near Harrisonburg, Virginia, three generations of the Horn family raise chickens, dairy replacement heifers, and beef cattle. Charles Horn and his wife Faye run the operation along with their son Chuck, his wife Jill, and grandchildren Joe and Olivia.

"In 1936 my grandfather owned 129 acres. They had a very diverse operation with just about everything—hogs, chickens, sheep, cattle, and horses," Charles explains. "Things are a lot different now. We are much more intense and have to farm a lot more acres to make things work. We are much more aware of our environment now too, and how our actions can affect people downstream."

For example, fences along waterways keep livestock from fouling streams. "All of our perennial streams are fenced so our cows don't have access to them," he says. "We used the soil and water programs to help us put in watering stations throughout the farm so we could rotate our livestock. Because of the way we constructed the fences it is much easier to get our cows into the barnyard now."

The fencing effort also includes neighboring farms along Freemason Run, a stream running though Delta Springs. All the farmers along the Run's entire six miles have fenced the streambanks, making the waterway livestock free and cleaner.

The Horns raise two million broiler chickens each year and grow all the roughage for their cattle including corn, hay, and small grain silage. They also use many Best Management Practices, including rotational grazing, cover crops, no-till farming, stream exclusion, nutrient management, and variable rate application of fertilizer. Much of their cropland is high in soil phosphorus so the farm is very limited in what manure and fertilizer they can apply. The Horns sell most of their poultry manure to areas in need of phosphorus.

"We are proud of the conservation practices we have installed on our farm," Charles says. "We could not have done it without the technical and financial assistance from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Headwaters Soil and Water Conservation District."

—Bobby Whitescarver  
Whitescarver lives in Swoope, Va. For more information, visit his website.

Learn more about how farmers across the watershed are working to improve both water quality and farm productivity in our Farmers' Success Stories series.


Nourishment for the Soul on Virginia's Eastern Shore

Garden VolunteersThe Eastern Shore of Virginia is peppered with farms and waterways. But despite the Shore's predominantly agrarian landscape, a startling proportion of its 45,000 residents don't have enough to eat. According to the Foodbank's Eastern Shore Branch Manager Charmin Horton, an estimated 14,000 people on the Shore are served annually by the Foodbank of Southeast Virginia and the Eastern Shore.

Facing this challenge, local groups have taken action to assist struggling ­Shore residents. St. George's Episcopal  Parish (founded in Pungoteague in 1652 and considered the third Anglican church in the New World) together with its partner congregation St. James Episcopal Church in Accomac formed the Dos Santos Food Pantry Garden to grow fresh produce for those in need.

"We created the Dos Santos Food Pantry Garden out of a desire to feed our pantry clients fresh produce," Dos Santos Food Pantry Director Angelica Garcia-Randle explains. 

"We chose to name the pantry in Spanish as an indication of our primary objective—to assist migrant farmworkers and Latino immigrants on the Eastern Shore of Virginia by offering a resource where Spanish is spoken to clients and where food central to the Latino community is consistently offered," Garcia-Randle says. “Most of our pantry clients cannot afford to purchase fresh produce—even though a majority of them are harvesting in the fields. This seems ironic and unjust; a wrong that we could help make right." To that end, the pantry serves about 150 people per month and growing in an effort fully funded by donations. "We have a marvelous network of volunteers who help with maintenance, upkeep, harvest, and distribution," Garcia-Randle says.

Cameron Randle and Angelica Garcia Randle
Reverend Cameron Randle and Dos Santos Food Pantry Director Angelica Garcia-Randle.

Besides benefiting the community through the blessings of food distribution, the garden is also a model for how to grow food while minimizing damage to our Eastern Shore waterways. Hard impervious surfaces do not allow rain to soak into the ground, instead washing pollutants into local waters. But gardens allow water to soak into the soil, reducing damage by cutting the speed and amount of polluted runoff.

With such an interconnected relationship to our waterways here on the Shore, a sense of stewardship for the land and water is inherent within the Church's faith philosophy. "Our Episcopal/Anglican ethos is very much centered on a respect for all God's creation and a proactive sense of stewardship accountability for environmental resources," says Reverend Cameron Randle, rector of St. George's Parish. Quite literally practicing what he preaches, the garden at St. George's strives to incorporate environmentally friendly growing techniques.

After receiving soil test results from the local Agricultural Research and Extension Center, Dos Santos understood the nutrient needs of its soil, applying to the land only what was necessary—an important step that keeps excess fertilizer from polluting our local waterways. Often times, additional or improperly applied fertilizer washes into rivers and creeks creating harmful algal blooms, which in turn form dead zones that reduce underwater habitat and harm fisheries.

Peppers in HandThe Dos Santos Garden minimizes polluted runoff with gentle watering techniques such as drip irrigation and rain barrel use, and utilizes organic pest management strategies. It also composts waste, mulches the garden to reduce exposed soil, and plants a host of biodiverse crops. And the garden's bounty is right across the lawn from the food pantry, cutting the distance the food travels and reducing the amount of gas burned.

Reverend Randle is steadfast in his belief that the gospel message of unconditional love and hospitality extends to all manifestations of God's creation—the human and animal, the skies, earth, and waters. He explains that the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer includes a prayer asking God to "give us wisdom and reverence so to use the resources of nature, that no one may suffer from our abuse of them, and that generations yet to come may continue to praise you for your bounty." Through community outreach, enhancing local food security, and providing ample blessings to others while being mindful of impacts on the environment, the volunteers for the Dos Santos Community Garden are happy to get their hands dirty in the name of caring for creation.

—Tatum Ford, CBF's Virginia Eastern Shore Outreach Coordinator

Tommy Leggett Retires After 17 Years

Tommy sharing his deep knowledge and love of oysters. Photos by CBF Staff.

After more than 17 years with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Virginia Oyster Restoration and Fisheries Scientist Tommy Leggett retired this month to focus on his aquaculture business, Chessie Seafood and Aquafarms. During his tenure at CBF, Tommy was instrumental in both establishing native oyster aquaculture in Virginia as well as implementing restoration programs that have planted tens of millions of oysters into the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.

"Tommy is one of the first champions of oyster aquaculture, and much of his life's work has been dedicated to ensuring the success of the oyster industry. He has helped to revive a resource that collapsed during his lifetime," says CBF Virginia Oyster Restoration Manager Jackie Shannon. "It has given me a great sense of pride to work side by side with him. Tommy truly embodies the American spirit. He is a pioneer and entrepreneur. He is a dedicated spouse, father, and grandfather. He lives by the tides, gets his hands dirty, and takes immense pride in his work."

Tommy sizing up an oyster.

At CBF, Tommy built and ran the Virginia Oyster Restoration Center, which conducted restoration projects throughout Virginia in collaboration with numerous partners and stakeholders. In addition to working on efforts to rebuild the native oyster population, Tommy and his colleagues have helped watermen start their own aquaculture operations, led impactful decision-maker trips on water quality issues, played a key role in defeating a Virginia Senate resolution to support the introduction of the non-native oyster, informed smart and balanced oyster fisheries management and restoration policy, and worked with nearly 400 volunteers on oyster restoration projects.

When Tommy joined CBF in 1998, he already had nearly two decades' experience as a self-employed commercial waterman. He also had the credentials to back-up his on-the-water experience, having earned a master's degree from the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, School of Marine Science of the College of William and Mary, as well as a bachelor's degree in biology from Old Dominion University. "Tommy has always understood the pressures on the industry and used this knowledge to help formulate informed, empathetic, and well-rounded decisions on oyster restoration," says CBF Virginia Acting Director Christy Everett.

Over the years, Tommy has served on numerous shellfish-related boards, committees, and sub-committees. Those include the Virginia Marine Resources Commission, the Potomac Fisheries Commission, and the Virginia Marine Products Board. He has also been President and Vice President of the Working Watermen's Association, Vice President of the East Coast Shellfish Growers Association, and held memberships at the Virginia Seafood Council, the Virginia Shellfish Growers Association, and the Tidewater Oyster Gardeners Association.

Tommy never shied away from sharing his knowledge with others, and has been a mentor, colleague, and friend to so many across the Chesapeake watershed. We wish him the best as he continues his day-to-day oyster farming work.

—Kenny Fletcher, CBF's Virginia Communications Coordinator

Tommy checking out a reef ball in the Lafayette River in Norfolk.

Photo of the Week: White Stone Summer

Penny's son Wyatt fishing off the dock at twilight. This week, Wyatt celebrates his 12th birthday!

[I took these photos] on a dock on Windmill Point in White Stone, Virginia, over the last few months.

My sons and I are blessed to enjoy time at my best friend's river house every few weekends during the summer.

I am so thankful that I am raising boys who love the Bay and all of its offerings. We are continuously mesmerized by its beauty!


Penny Angelini


Ensure that Penny, her sons, and future generations continue to enjoy extraordinary places like these along the Chesapeake. Support the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprintthe plan to Save the Bay! 


Do you have a favorite Chesapeake photo you'd like to submit to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's Photo of the Week contest? Send your digital images to CBF's Senior Manager of Digital Media, Emmy Nicklin, at enicklin [at sign] cbf.org, along with a brief description of where and when you took the photo, and what the Chesapeake Bay means to you. We look forward to seeing your photos!





Appreciating Fall Foliage after the Color Is Gone

The following first appeared in the York Daily Record.

Putting leaves to work
Putting fallen leaves to work is good for plants and properties, and contributes to the health of Pennsylvania waterways. Photo by Kelly O’Neill/CBF Staff.

The Commonwealth's northern tier is enjoying the season's burst of color as fall foliage reaches its peak there by mid-October. The palette will sweep southward, sharing its vibrancy with the rest of Pennsylvania as temperatures continue to cool and days grow shorter toward the end of the month.

The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) boasts that the Keystone State, with its 134 species of trees, has a longer and more varied fall foliage season than anywhere else in the world.

Folks travel for miles to marvel at the splendor of the changing leaves. There are ways to further appreciate what fall foliage offers, after it falls in our own neighborhoods.

Putting leaves to work is good for plants and properties, and contributes to the health of Pennsylvania waterways.

The Commonwealth is significantly behind in its clean water commitments and must accelerate its reduction of nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment runoff into rivers and streams and ultimately the Chesapeake Bay.

Urban/suburban runoff of pollutants is the third-leading cause of impairment to 19,000 miles of Pennsylvania waters; behind agricultural runoff and acid mine drainage respectively.

Trees play a key role in defending clean water by filtering pollution and absorbing runoff.

Making the most of fall leaves around the home and other properties can reduce the amount of fertilizers needed and enhance soil absorption, reducing the amount of runoff that carries harmful pollutants into waterways.

Autumn leaves are some of the best organic matter, are packed with trace minerals that trees draw from the soil, and can be a powerful benefit around the home.

Healthy compost is a valuable and plentiful alternative fertilizer and soil enhancement for flower beds and gardens. Leaves are an effective component of compost, which also reuses grass clippings, food and yard waste, and other natural ingredients. Carbon-rich leaves add balance to nitrogen-rich elements like fresh grass clippings.

Shredded leaves are multi-purpose. Shredding leaves reduces the volume, creates more surfaces for microbes to work, and more easily loosens the soil when worked into the garden. This invites earthworms and other organisms that are beneficial to productive soil. Shredding and mulching is as easy as piling leaves up and driving over them a few times with the lawnmower.

Against winter wind and cold, a six-inch blanket of leaves can protect tender plants. Some gardeners use leaves to insulate sensitive dahlia, iris, and other bulbs left in the winter garden.

Making "leaf mold" by simply raking leaves into pile is a low-maintenance process for augmenting soil quality. Shredding leaves allows them to decompose faster, but is not a requirement for good leaf mold. Over the period of a few years, fungus breaks the leaves down into a special compost that is high in calcium and magnesium. It also retains three to five times its weight in water.

To enhance your fall foliage experience, the DCNR website offers a weekly fall foliage map and reports, an explanation of why autumn leaves change color, and state forest maps with directions. After they've fallen, make the most of them.

Clean water counts in all seasons, and for many Pennsylvanians, fall is their favorite time of year. Putting leaves to work to reduce polluted runoff can extend our appreciation of fall foliage long after the color is gone.

—Harry Campbell, CBF's Pennsylvania Executive Director

Are you a resident of Pennsylvania? Make your voice heard, and tell your County Commissioners to pass a resolution saying Clean Water Counts in Pennsylvania!