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December 2015

Photo of the Week: My Happy Place

Fall on the riverI took this in early November when my husband and I took a late afternoon cruise to see the fall foliage on the Magothy River. It was a perfectly beautiful day!  

Going out on the river for me is where I relax. No matter what is going on at work or home when I get out on the water I immediately start unwinding. It's also where we have so many fond family memories of water skiing with our four kids and their friends, going to Annapolis for fireworks, cruising with neighbors, and just observing nature. 

The river and the Bay are truly my "happy place." :-)

—Beth Deitrick

Ensure that Beth, her family, 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], 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!

Happy Thanksgiving!

At this special time of year, we're reminded of how grateful we are for all of you. With your help, this year we planted 25 million native oysters on reefs and 70 miles of forested buffers along streams and creeks. We gave more than 35,000 students and teachers unforgettable experiences on our rivers, streams, and Bay so that they will learn to love and protect these waters like we do.

All of these things were only made possible through your commitment to clean water. So we're sending you a special thank you directly from CBF President Will Baker on this golden November day at the Merrill Center.


Thank you again for all that you do to Save the Bay. We never could have come so far or accomplished so much over the years without your dedication, passion, and generosity. 

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at CBF!


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 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 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], 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!

Brook Trout, Our Environmental Refugees

The following first appeared in The Daily Times.

Brook trout are great indicators of healthy water. Photo by Neil Ever Osborne/iLCP.

Middle River flows through our land. Brook trout used to thrive in it—and most freshwater streams throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed. They migrated or died long ago, environmental refugees from the sediment-laden waters. Middle River is slowly being restored and one day, we will reintroduce this native fish to the waters that flow through our farm.

Brook Trout are pollution sensitive—they must have cold, clear water to thrive and survive. I believe they vanished from the river when our ancestors harvested the trees along the river's banks in the early 1800s. The trees were harvested for many reasons, but mainly to clear land to grow crops. Without the shade from the trees, the water temperature rose higher than the trout's level of tolerance, and the aquatic ecosystem lost its main source of food: leaves from native trees.

But perhaps the biggest culprit in the demise of the fish was soil erosion from wheat fields before the Civil War. The Shenandoah Valley was known as the "bread basket" of the Confederacy and produced more wheat than anywhere else in the United States. Wheat production at that time involved much plowing and discing that made the land vulnerable to erosion.

Soil in streams is terribly damaging. It clogs the gills of aquatic insects and buries the rocks on the stream bottom. This sediment basically suffocates all the creatures that make up a healthy aquatic ecosystem. Brook trout and other pollution-sensitive fish migrate elsewhere to survive or die because there is nothing to eat, thus the term "environmental refugees."

Today, the Shenandoah Valley remains Virginia's largest agricultural region, but not for wheat production. The valley produces more beef cattle than any region in Virginia and perhaps the entire Chesapeake Bay watershed. Cows eat grass and we can grow a lot of it. Unfortunately, most of the cattle in our watershed have direct access to streams. 

Cattle in streams do bad things. They trample the banks and the stream bottoms, dislodging soil and destroying aquatic ecosystems. They defecate and urinate in the stream, polluting the water. Nutrients contained in manure are one of the main reasons for dead zones in the Chesapeake Bay. Manure also contains pathogens such as E. coli—a bacteria found in the intestines of mammals.

Middle River is on Virginia's "Dirty Waters List" because of sediment and high concentrations of E. coli. The state conducted research to determine the source of the bacteria, and according to their findings, 94 percent of the E. coli in the river comes from livestock.

The state standard for E. coli in Virginia for freshwater streams is 235 colony-forming units per 100 ml (cfu/100ml) of water. Health officials warn that E. coli counts above this limit may cause human health problems and they don't recommend "direct contact" with water exceeding this limit.

When the river enters our land the E. coli counts are consistently more than 1,000 cfu/100 ml. That's right, 1,000! The river flows about a quarter of mile across our farm through riparian buffers we planted in 2004. When the river exits our farm, the E. coli count drops by 50 percent.

We fenced the cows out of our part of the river in 2004. Most of the denuded banks are now fully vegetated with native plants and trees. The leaves falling into the river replenish the aquatic ecosystem with the food it needs to restore itself. I call these leaves the "corn silage" of the aquatic ecosystem.

The E. coli count in the river is reduced by half on our farm because the aquatic ecosystems are processing the in-stream pollutants. Science tells us that a stream flowing through a forested buffer is two to eight times more capable of processing in-stream pollutants than a stream without trees along the banks.

"Restoring and sustaining naturally reproducing brook trout populations" is one of the goals in the 2014 Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement. Streamside fences to keep livestock out of the water and the planting of native trees along the banks of the stream are two very important practices to achieve this goal.

To find out how to help restore brook trout populations in your watershed, contact your local Soil and Water Conservation District or United States Department of Agriculture office.

—Bobby Whitescarver
Whitescarver is a farmer, certified nutrient management planner in Virginia, and a retired District conservationist for the USDA.

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.

This Week in the Watershed

Spruce Knob, on the western edge of the Chesapeake watershed in West Virginia, reveals the metaphorical peaks and valleys in the work to save the Bay. Photo by Justin Black/iLCP.

The work to save the Chesapeake Bay certainly has its peaks and valleys. Occasionally, these peaks and valleys come close together. This past week in the watershed, we were greeted with the good news that the Virginia oyster harvest is up 24 percent from last year. In addition to rebounding oyster numbers, we're seeing positive signs of improvement from pollution reduction throughout the watershed—underwater grasses are recovering, water clarity is improving, and levels of dissolved oxygen are rebounding. Despite this positive progress, we were reminded this week that there are still many obstacles to overcome.

Yesterday we were disappointed to learn that despite our efforts in conjunction with several conservation groups, the Richmond County Board of Supervisors voted to rezone Fones Cliffs. This treasured site on the Rappahannock River is a place like no other in the Chesapeake watershed. In addition to being one of the most important bald eagle habitats on the East Coast, the potential development is an environmental and economic threat to the community. While next steps are still to be determined, according to Peggy Sanner, assistant Virginia director for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, one thing is clear—"It's not over yet."

The worst, albeit not surprising, news from the past week is the American Farm Bureau Federation and other agricultural lobbying organizations once again challenging the legality of the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint, this time bringing the case to the U.S. Supreme Court. Lauded in previous court decisions as a wonderful example of cooperative federalism, the legal challenges facing the Blueprint simply do not hold water (pardon the pun). As we have stated time and again, the Blueprint is the Bay's best, and perhaps last chance, to be saved. And although we are saddened by the Farm Bureau's groundless attempts to dismantle the Blueprint, we are confident the Supreme Court will lean on the sound legal and factual findings of the two previous court decisions, and reaffirm Bay restoration efforts.

This Week in the Watershed: Better, Bad, and Worst

  • Disappointing news from Virginia, as the Richmond County Board of Supervisors has voted to rezone Fones Cliffs, a treasured site on the Rappahannock River. (Richmond Times Dispatch—VA)
  • Excited to see that the Virginia oyster harvest is up 24 percent from 2014. (Associated Press)
  • This editorial is spot-on, criticizing the Baltimore County Council for its short-sighted approach in repealing its stormwater remediation fee. (Baltimore Sun—MD)
  • Polluted runoff is a central source of pollution fouling the Chesapeake Bay and its rivers and streams, but detecting violations is a significant challenge. (Bay Journal)
  • We're saddened but not surprised that the American Farm Bureau Federation and other industry groups are taking their assault on the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint all the way to the Supreme Court. (Bay Journal)
  • Implementing agricultural best management practices in Pennsylvania is critical in saving the Bay and its rivers and streams. Lancaster County, PA is on the front lines. (Lancaster Intelligencer Journal—PA)

Lend Your Voice for Clean Water!

What's Happening Around the Watershed?

November 13-15

  • Easton, MD: Volunteer to staff the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's exhibit in the iconic Waterfowl Festival! Lend a hand for just a few hours teaching the community about CBF's work on the Shore and enjoy the sights, sounds, and flavor of the beautiful Eastern Shore. Contact Hilary Gibson at to sign up!

November 13

  • Onancock, VA: Meet new people, learn all about water quality issues on the Eastern Shore, and enjoy some great food at CBF's Dine & Discuss: Fish 'n Fowl Taco Night! Receive updates on fisheries, agriculture, and water quality with a smattering of science and a peppering of policy. Eat fish and chicken tacos free of charge. A cash bar will be available. This is an adult-only event. Reserve your spot today!

November 14

  • Virginia Beach, VA: Three to four volunteers are needed to staff a CBF display table at a local oyster roast! Volunteers will share current information with the attendees and enjoy this very informal event that includes all you can eat oysters with a portion of the proceeds going to CBF. For more information contact Tanner Council at or 757-622-1964.

November 18-20

  • Washington, D.C.: Join CBF at Greenbuild, the world's largest conference and expo dedicated to green building. The green building community gathers to share ideas and mutual passion at Greenbuild, with three groundbreaking days of inspiring speakers, invaluable networking opportunities, industry showcases, LEED workshops and tours of the host city's green buildings. Click here for more information!

November 18

  • Easton, MD: Attend CBF's Oyster Expo for a night of all things oyster! Staffed by leading scientists from around the region, this event will feature a variety of family-friendly exhibits, movies, and displays that bring to life the ongoing work to support the iconic Chesapeake Bay oyster. Learn about current oyster restoration projects and what you can do to help. Click here to register!

November 19

  • Chestertown, MD: Come on out for a Bay Panel Discussion featuring farmers, environmentalists, and local residents talking about the challenges and success in the effort to achieve a healthier Chesapeake Bay while continuing to produce food. Click here for more information!

—Drew Robinson, CBF's Digital Media Associate

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.