Did you know, Lancaster, Pennsylvania is home to more than 5,000 farms – bringing in about $1.5 billion annually? The area boasts naturally rich soils and the perfect climate for productive dairy farming. The average dairy farm in Lancaster holds 65 cows and uses one billion gallons of water each year. That is a lot of water, and considering there are 1,700 dairy farms in Lancaster it is important that Pennsylvania finds a way to balance its farming tradition with modern ecological practices. The nutrient and sediment pollution from agriculture can upset watersheds, but Lancaster is becoming a leader on reducing agricultural pollution, and is bringing together different stakeholders to combat this issue.
We are so thrilled to be able to organize this year’s conference in Lancaster. As a coalition dedicated to protecting and rallying for clean water, it is a great opportunity to reach an area that could benefit from our presence – and similarly, we will absolutely benefit from hearing what locals have to say! All of our conference sessions and field trips include a bit of Lancaster, and even the drinks and food provided are from locally based companies who understand that healthy water starts with hardworking communities who care.
Our agricultural sessions include “Restoring our Waterways with Healthy Soils”, a discussion led by prominent thinkers from multiple organizations in the Chesapeake area. Another key agricultural session is the “Turning Rooftop Runoff into Food”, which focuses on community gardens and the ways we can benefit economically and environmentally from them – specifically in Frederick, Maryland where the community is growing fresh vegetables for under-served residents. Not only are some sessions farm-related, but we could not have a conference in Lancaster without at least one farm tour! The “Good Food, Healthy Farms, & Clean Water” field trip gives attendees a chance to tour local farms and co-ops, while the “Plainsect Dairy Farm Tour” focuses on exploring agricultural BMPs on a local dairy farm, as well as understanding the values of communities to build strong connections with them.
What kind of future do we see for Lancaster? Will it be possible for the entire farming community to eventually balance tradition with environmental consciousness? We believe that Lancaster can become a hub of modern agriculture, and we are prepared to help Pennsylvania achieve this goal. We hope to see you all on May 22-23 for an educational and exciting clean water experience unlike any other. To register for our conference click here: http://ow.ly/U2YF30jxlqA
Mary Katherine Sullivan is an intern at Choose Clean Water.