Farmers to the Bay Captures Common Ground Among Farmers, Watermen

Building Bridges to Conservation through Communication

RICHMOND, VA. – A new Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) video featuring a Shenandoah Valley farmer and the mayor of Tangier Island shows how people from diverse walks of life can find common ground in clean water and a healthy Chesapeake Bay.

The video, titled “Farmers to the Bay – We’re All in This Together,” documents CBF’s Farmer to the Bay program, a series of weekend trips by Shenandoah Valley farmers to remote Tangier Island. CBF sponsored the trips for many years, hosting scores of Valley farmers on weekend excursions to this tiny island community in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay.

The trips feature hands-on Bay exploration, education, and discovery, but the real focus was on meeting and engaging Tangier watermen, the islanders whose livelihoods depend upon clean water and a productive Chesapeake Bay. Informal discussions during the trips ranged from farming to fishing to water quality to life and family challenges. While the trips brought together men and women who live hundreds of miles apart, participants discovered they have much in common and that their worlds are more connected than they realized.

Featured are Mike Bazzle, a beef cattle farmer who owns and operates Mountain Valley Farm in Rockingham County, and Tangier Mayor James “Ooker” Eskridge, an island native who catches and sells crabs, fish, and oysters for a living. Also featured is CBF Watershed Restoration Scientist Libby Norris, who coordinated and led the trips.

“In brief vignettes, the video dramatizes how we really are all in this together,” said Norris. “When you get them to sit down over a cup of coffee or a table of steamed crabs, farmers and watermen discover they are very much alike. Everyone wants to be able to raise a family and make a living in a clean, healthy environment. What Farmers to the Bay reveals is that, working together, we can all make a difference.”

The nine-minute “Farmers to the Bay” video was produced by The Downstream Project of Berryville, Va., a nonprofit communications group focusing on conservation and environmental awareness. It was made possible with funding from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, with funds from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency through the Chesapeake Bay Stewardship Fund.


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