CBF Brings Bedford Farmers to the Bay

farmers on the bay

Last July, 10 farmers from the base of Virginia's Blue Ridge mountains in Bedford County spent an eye-opening weekend on islands in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay during CBF's latest Farmers to the Bay excursion. While there, they surveyed crabs and fish, met with Tangier watermen, and discussed ways farmers are helping to restore local waterways and the Bay.

"These experiences create a connection between what happens on the farm and the health of waters downstream and in the Bay," said Matt Kowalski, CBF's Virginia Watershed Restoration Scientist. "It's educational and lot of fun."

For Beth Bays, this was her the first trip out on the Bay. Beth and her husband run a farm in Huddleston that raises beef cattle and grows hay, wheat, and soybeans. On the islands, she rose at sunrise on Sunday to land the group's only striped bass of the day. "The whole trip was one of the most incredible experiences ever," she said." I really fell in love with the water, the islands, and the people."

With support from federal cost-share programs, Bays has already implemented conservation practices on her farm such as fencing cattle out of streams. "I saw how what I do on the farm affects an ecosystem hundreds of miles away," she said. "Not only do these practices benefit the Bay, they also improve soil quality and our bottom line."

Matt Akenhead and his wife Elizabeth raise sheep in the town of Bedford, grazing many of them around the town's solar farm. Out on the islands, Matt was fascinated to learn that support for farm conservation programs is one of the most cost-effective ways to restore the Bay. "At five hours away, I'm not always thinking about how our sheep might affect the Bay," he said. "On the island we talked about how the fastest and most economical way to reduce pollution is by addressing agriculture. That gives us a better return on our money spent."

"The more we can do for clean water, the better," he continued. "We're not just tearing everything up. We're thinking about how to feed the planet, take care of the environment, and lose as little money as possible."

Madison Meador works for the Farm Service Agency and pitches in with her father on the family farm, a cow-calf operation. For Madison, it was her first time on a boat in the Bay. "I'm used to mountains and land. To just look out and only see water—wow, it was awesome," she said.

Madison said that farmers really identify with the watermen who earn their livelihoods from the Bay's crabs, oysters, and fish. "It's all a risk. We are all just trying to make a living with nature—that's how I figure it," she said. "What we do as farmers all ties in."

Kenny Fletcher 90x110

Kenny Fletcher

Virginia Communications Coordinator, CBF

kfletcher@cbf.org

Issues in this Post

Agriculture   Best Management Practices   Blue Crabs   Conservation   Events   Fun   Sustainability   Virginia's Agricultural Cost-Share Program   Water Quality   CBF in Virginia   Virginia Office, Richmond  




DISCLAIMER

PLEASE READ OUR TERMS OF USE

The views and opinions expressed in the media, articles or comments on this site are those of the speakers or authors and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions held by CBF and the inclusion of such information does not imply endorsement by CBF. CBF is not responsible for the contents of any linked Web, or any link contained in a linked Web site, or any changes or updates to such Web sites. The inclusion of any link or comment is provided only for information purposes. CBF reserves the right to edit or remove any comments and material posted to this website and to ban users from the site without notice. Partisan, pornographic or other inappropriate content, product or service promotion, foul language or bad behavior is expressly forbidden and will be removed.


Decades of Success: The 1970s

Even as a young organization, our work was effective and got noticed. Find out what we did.

Explore Our Timeline

Volunteer

Do you enjoy working with others to help clean the Chesapeake Bay? Do you have a few hours to spare? Whether growing oysters, planting trees, or helping in our offices, there are plenty of ways you can contribute.

Volunteer
x
This website uses cookies to tailor and enhance your online experience. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. For more information, including details on how to disable cookies, please visit our Privacy Policy. Agree