Sunday, November 25, 2007

The Farm

There has been a great deal of discussion thus far on the blog relating to our trip down to Wallops Island and the research/good times we had on that leg of the journey; however, I think the Myers Dairy Farm in St. Thomas has unfortunately been overlooked, and I say unfortunately because it is what truly brought what we experienced on the trip full circle for myself.

All of the experiences discussed in other threads are vitally important to the notion of conservation and what we as individuals can do in playing our part. The destruction of the Chesapeake Bay, the disease ridden oysters, and the filthy marsh are but examples of the numerous and varying problems that each of us can personally make an effort toward remedying. And personally, I think a big step in the process can be done from our own backyards. The Myers Farm is a prime example of a small family doing their part to save the world. The best management practices which they employ go an awfully long way to preserving the Bay, toward promoting the health of the oysters, and perhaps even reducing the litter and other pollution found in Tom's Cove.

And when one thinkgs about it, it is truly amazing that the actions in little St. Thomas, Pennsylvania affect such an extraordinary amount of individua'ls lives. The buffer zones which the Myers family has erected around the stream that runs through their farm will eliminate an exorbitant amount of pollution from runoff that may have tainted the Bay. The no-till farming practices used by the Myers will preserve their farmland for generations to come and perhaps provide nurishment for individuals living throughout the country. The list of best management practices employed by the Myers family goes on and on, and we should all be grateful for their contributions toward conservation and also to some degree preservation.

And finally, the Myers family themselves are wonderful people. They graciously opened up their farm to a group of semi-interested young adults (at that point I think everyone was ready to get back to Shippensburg) and were willing to take the time out of their busy schedules to give us a tour and explain the effects of their best management practices. It is from their generosity that I was truly able to accomplish the goal of this trip and connect the dots from a place far, far away to my own home. I think the Myers farm is a part of the trip we all unfortunately overlook, but nonetheless I am sure we all realize the impact and importance of that leg of our journey.

5 comments:

jdjames said...

I agree with this thread completly in that the farm is a connecting point, and is an important topic in concerns for the affect of the chesapeak watershed. Although tired and exhausted on the ride back towards shippensburg, i realized the farm to present itself as more of a symbolic moment in which everything was connected. I think this trip to the farm and this thread, have made me realize how much we have overlooked thin important aspect of the alternative fall break trip. I learned of the local farms benefit to the enviroment, and thier concerns for not only local enviromental landscapes, but also distant regions of the chesapeak watershed. I didnt realize that farms could affect so much, and i also underestimated the responsibility they have in our societies impact on the enviroment. The practices and procdeures they took were interesting in that, they seem simple and not so complicated. I learned from the local farmers that day that not all farms are practicing the exact same procedures and that they may not realize these methods as beneficial to the enviroment. The conflict of conforming to these new ways is very exspensive to many farmers, and many farmers may not be willing to change farming techniques they have practiced for many years. Although a conflict, i understand that local farmers have a big impact on the chesapeak watershed, and i know that positive change can begin produce effective transformations in society, but we must realize those individuals we often overlook in society. To bring about change, there must be more collective and efficent procedures taken by all people of society, that will benefit our society in regards of the greatest enviromental satisfaction.

kattastrophe said...

The watershed is an amazing structure of rivers, lakes, tributaries, marshes, and of course the bay. Everything that we see around us is somehow connected. I agree that the farm was the capstone to the Alternative Fall Break. It was definitely beneficial to finally make the connection.

Visiting the farm opened my eyes to not just the effect of the Chesapeake Watershed, but the millions of other waterways that lead to primary resources in the world. As history has clearly shown humans have relied on water for thousands of years. The first colonies and civilizations were created around lakes and rivers, not only for drinking but for many other functions like food, cleanliness, and even recreational. Why it is that it wasn’t until recently that people are able to see the negative effects that we have on our environment, and what can we do about it?

I think jdjames pointed out a major, if not the most, critical reason for the negative effects happening to our environment, MONEY. The early societies were based more on survival or small market, and our country now especially focuses on making money. This has caused for family owned farms to go into great debt to the government. Most farms have a primary product, the Myers being Dairy. Many other farms are reduced to products (or other cash crops) like beef, corn, beans, wheat, chickens, etc. This type of farming is extremely detrimental, not only to the farms themselves, but for the environment within and around them. The inability for species to exist in their natural habitat or get the vital minerals and nutrients to survive because they are stripped from the ground they once lived causes for extinction, invasive species, and major migration of species to new areas.

Our modern economy has created a nice facade covering the negative effects that we as Americans have/had on the environment. This is why we are paying for our actions now through climate changes, illnesses, and other various misfortunes that effect daily life and health. Farms, like the Myers Dairy Farm, can make a difference by protecting the waterways in better management practices like those that Willie illustrated for us. However, like jdjames pointed out there does need to be more of a collective effort for change, and even policies and education that can help encourage families stuck in traditional farming and or to far into debt to make some if not all of these Better Management Practices become implemented everywhere.

Nessie said...

Thank you for posting this tread! I agree full heartedly that the farm really brought the whole trip together.

When watching An Inconvenient Truth in our environmental sociology class at the beginning of the semester we saw Al Gore talking about his families’ tobacco farm and his sister’s death from lung cancer. He mentioned that there are "times when you wish you had connected the dots more quickly." We were then asked if we have ever had a similar revelation about how our actions connect to the broader world? If so, what did you do about it? Originally I knew that there were times that things like this would have happened however I could not think of any thing specific. Looking back now I would like to briefly re answer that question.

Everything we do affects the greater and broader world. It was clear on our trip to Wallops Island that we do not go with out an impact on our environment. From listening to Valerie Fellows talk about our CO2 emissions and that no matter what we do, because of us, polar bears will become extinct, to talking to the oystermen and the people on Smith Island about how the oysters are sick from the nutrients it was immediately clear that we have a GREAT impact on our environment. Going to the farm and talking about how farms use to be conducted and how some farms are trying harder to reduce the pollutants that drain into the streams, rivers and seas gave me some hope. Maybe more people are starting to make this connection and change. Our generation has the opportunity to start making a change in our own lives and facilitate an environmental change in the world and lives around us. Cleaning up that little bit of marsh made a difference, people watching what we were doing and asking questions made a difference, sharing our experiences with others made a difference and the actions and environmental responsibilities that we now feel will make a great difference.

As more farms start to adapt best management practices like the Myers Dairy Farm in St. Thomas a change slowly but surly will be seen. People are starting to take SOME responsibility for their actions. It is just important to remember that every little bit helps.

sb9161 said...

It sounds ultimately that the Myers farm might of been one of the events on the trip that was looked over by some students. While the farm was looked over it probably brought together the whole alternative break trip. It proves exactly how people such as our selves really do effect the environment. The farm was the ultimate connection for every body on the trip to realize what they did over the weekend really did do some help whether the amount of work seemed like it just wasnt enough. The farm fulfills alot of practices that are solely for the purpose of benefitting the environment. It is run with specific instructions to keep the environment healthy and keep humans involved and happy.

kmarie said...

I thought that the Myers Dairy Farm was so important as well. It tied the whole trip together. Everyone was so tried I understand that there was a little less excitement than ideal for the day of the trip. Yet in retrospect and after taking the trip in, it was such a great wrap up and put what we learned into an activity. A crazy part of the farm was the manure pit. Apparently the family and workers get used to the smell. I was impressed by the blind man who spoke to our group at the beginning of the tour and set the cows up for milking by touch. I came away from the farm knowing that practices are available and being used to keep our environment clean. Thank You Myers Farm