In August, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) awarded Lancaster Farmland Trust two grants totaling over $515,000. Both grants will fund projects to help Lancaster County unnamed(3)Farmers improve local water quality and the health of the Chesapeake Bay.

Through a partnership with East Lampeter Township, the first grant of $328,328 will allow the Trust to implement best management practices on six strategically-selected farms in the township. The Trust will help farmers to develop good stewardship methods to reduce water pollution using techniques like streambank fencing, riparian buffers, barnyard management, manure storage, and pasture maintenance. This effort will build upon a previous project in East Lampeter Township where the Trust collected information on agricultural operations, land use and best management practices, livestock health, and stream ecology, and provided education about natural resource stewardship on farms.

“Lancaster County has over 1,400 miles of streams and creeks that affect local drinking water and flow into the Chesapeake Bay,” said Karen Martynick, Executive Director of the Trust. “Local water quality is critical not only to the residents of Lancaster County, but also to regional efforts to restore the health of the Bay. This community-wide approach to improving water quality will help farmers make long-term environmental improvements and protect our natural resources.”

The Trust will use the second NFWF grant of $187,662 to assist three farmers in Eastern Lancaster County improve conservation of natural resources on their farms, and to expand education and outreach efforts. The Trust will engage the farmers to serve as mentors to their fellow conservative Mennonite farmers through field days, peer-to-peer discussions, and workshop presentations. By encouraging greater participation in conservation planning and implementation of best management practices, the project seeks to improve water quality and show the local agriculture community that conservation efforts, livestock health, and farm profitability are all closely related.

Both grants will utilize the Trust’s long-standing relationship with the Plain Sect farming community to improve local water quality and educated additional farmers about the benefits of good conservation practices. Ultimately these improvements will allow Lancaster County farmers to be better stewards of their soil and water resources, and help Pennsylvania meet Chesapeake Bay pollution cleanup goals.