February 7, 2012
Free Farmer Workshops:
Cleaner Barnyards, Healthier Streams, and Fewer Worries: Strategies You Can Use Now
Christiana and Oxford Workshops Being Held February 28th and 29th
(HARRISBURG, PA)—The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) and partners are hosting two free workshops for Chester County and southern Lancaster County producers interested in improving farming operations, and local water quality. Attendees will receive basic information and financial-assistance opportunities including the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP), and the Buffer Bonus program, which is available to Plain Sect communities.
CBF is a private, non-governmental organization which has helped over 4,000 PA landowners improve their streams.
The Buffer Bonus Program offers up to $20,000 per farm to Plain Sect farmers in Lancaster and Chester Counties to be used to install Best Management Practices (BMPs) that are good for the farm and good for the stream. Farmers qualify for these funds when they agree to have a contractor plant trees along their stream through CREP funding.
For every acre of streamside trees planted, the Buffer Bonus Program pays $4,000 toward other conservation practices chosen by the farmer.
CREP provides farmers with significant financial returns for planting streamside trees. The program covers costs for trees, fencing, crossings and watering systems, and provides funds to help pay for maintenance. Landowners also receive rental payments for up to fifteen years, providing an additional source of revenue.
CBF has worked with hundreds of farmers to implement CREP practices on their farms, and in just one-year since the Buffer Bonus program started, twenty Lancaster County Plain Sect farmers have enrolled, with half-a-dozen more considering enrollment. Assistance through the Buffer Bonus program provides farmers with the tools they need to meet state water quality regulations, but funding is available for a limited time. Lamonte Garber, CBF's Agricultural Manager in Pennsylvania has worked one-on-one with farmers to explain the benefits of Buffer Bonus.
"Streams flowing through our farms and communities tie us together, connect us to our downstream neighbors, and reflect how we use the land," said Garber. "Traditionally a place where families could fish, relax, and enjoy nature, the condition of our streams now brings worries to some households who hear about pollution problems and regulations tied to the Chesapeake Bay. The goal of these workshops is to discuss tools and opportunities for financial and hands-on assistance for farmers grappling with clean water requirements."
The first workshop will be held on February 28th from 9:30 to 2:00 at the Dutch-Way Farm Market Banquet Room in Christiana. The second workshop will be held on February 29th from 9:30 to 2:00 at the Post House Restaurant’s Banquet Room, near Oxford.
The keynote speaker, Dr. Bernard Sweeney, Director of the Stroud Water Research Center in Chester County, brings a promising message of restoration for waterways that flow through Chester and Lancaster Counties. Dr. Sweeney draws on a lifetime of research on streams and rivers throughout the world, and will share his knowledge on the economic and environmental "services" that healthy streams offer landowners and communities.
"We know that the Chesapeake Bay is only as healthy as its tributary streams," said Sweeney. "We also know that healthy streams, both now and in the past, are typically bordered by trees and have lots of trees in their watershed. Current science shows that the strategic placement of trees along streams can enable farms, houses, and businesses to exist in a watershed without loss of stream health or water quality."
David Wise, Stream Buffer Program Manager for CBF's Pennsylvania office will provide an overview of the opportunities available through CREP, as well as the unique opportunity for Plain Sect farms through the Buffer Bonus program.
Additionally, Art Gover, Research Support Associate, from Penn State University, will provide detailed information for the maintenance of forested streambank buffers, and Dan Miloser, Agricultural Technical Leader, from the Chester County Conservation District will address why every farm needs conservation and manure management plans, and how farmers can get help in developing these essential plans.
The meetings are free and open to the public, but registration is requested. A free lunch is provided by Dutchway Farm Market and Post House Restaurant. Contact Lamont Garber at 717/576-3287 OR mail a note with name, date of workshop attending, and the number attending to: Lamont Garber, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, 614 North Front Street, Harrisburg, PA 17101.