Save the Bay News: Local Food, Whales, and Hatching Oysters


Holstein and Jersey crossbreeds graze on American Farm Land Trust's Cove Mountain Farm in south-central Pennsylvania.

Bob Nichols/USDA

Our monthly roundup of engaging and educational content for you to enjoy at home. This month we look at how the way we farm ultimately affects everything downstream, including Bay critters big and small.

How can we grow food in a way that is good for us and good for our environment? Bay restoration arguably rests on the answer. Agriculture remains the watershed's single largest source of pollution, and the Bay states are relying on farms to make 80 percent of the remaining reductions needed to reach restoration targets by 2025. It's also a huge opportunity to build food systems that are more resilient to climate change, boost rural economies, and provide access to nutritious food. This month, we look at solutions. Our new report, Farm Forward, outlines how investments in federal programs that fund key agricultural conservation practices can support water quality, climate, and economic goals. The pioneering research of George Washington Carver underpins many of the practices used for regenerative agriculture (and for Black History Month, check out more stories that celebrate Black changemakers in the Bay watershed). We also look at the benefits of buying local food and how to do it; check in with CBF's Michael Heller on his 40-year career transforming Clagett Farm into a working model of regenerative agriculture; offer up farm-friendly dinner and movie recs just in time for the weekend; and share an opportunity to go behind-the-scenes at a different type of farm—an oyster hatchery. The way we farm ultimately affects everything downstream, including Bay critters big and small—from whales to otters to seahorses.

Finally, stay up-to-date on all the headlines and legislative action with our monthly news wrap-up.

Pile of whole yellow squash.

Eating in-season fruits and vegetables offer a powerhouse of nutrients and flavor.

Roshani Kothari

Local Food, Local Farms

We often hear that we should buy local food, but why? It goes deeper than nutrition, as these five reasons to buy local attest. From greenhouse gas emissions to community engagement, supporting local farmers can benefit the watershed in more ways than you might think (and we have some great dinner and movie recs!).

VIDEO: Building a Farm

Michael Heller is known for his passion for soil health, his boundless curiosity—and occasionally playing bagpipes for his herd of Red Devon and Red Angus cattle. The iconic manager of CBF's Clagett Farm is retiring next month after 40 years of transforming how we think about agriculture and its role in Bay saving.

Large pile of tiny oysters on a dock.

Seed oysters at the Oyster Seed Holdings hatchery in Gwynn Island, VA.

Oyster Seed Holdings

Hatching Oysters

There's another type of farming that is critical to Bay restoration: oyster farming. It all starts with a hatchery. Oyster Seed Holdings, Inc, an independent commercial hatchery and partner of the Chesapeake Oyster Alliance, is spreading the word on shellfish aquaculture in a unique way: inviting the public on immersive oyster hatchery tours.

Tiny seahorse among underwater grass blades.

Weak swimmers, lined seahorses (Hippocampus erectus) cling to underwater grasses with their prehensile tails to survive buffeting currents.

iStock/Jason Ondreicka

Whales, Otters, and Seahorses

Even in winter, the Bay is very much alive. Juvenile humpback whales hang out in Virginia's nearshore waters from November to early March (though whales once made it as far north as Annapolis!), and you may spot otters playing in an icy stream. As spring arrives, so too will underwater grasses—perfect habitat for seahorses.

VIDEO: Around the Bay in 60 Seconds

In this month's news roundup: CBF testifies before Congress to support scientific research and wildlife habitat restoration; Pennsylvania records an increasing number of impaired waterways; EPA finds the Conowingo Dam cleanup plan lacks financial backing; Virginia leaders consider agricultural cost-share funding for conservation practices, and more.

Blue skies, green field, with barns in the backfround and sunflowers in the fore.

CBF’s 283-acre Clagett Farm is located in Upper Marlboro, Maryland.

Roshani Kothari

What You Can Do

Issues in this Post

Agriculture   Climate Change   Eastern Oysters   Regenerative Agriculture  


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Founded in 1967, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) is the largest independent conservation organization dedicated solely to saving the Bay.

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