Rodale Institute, the global leader in regenerative organic agriculture, recently launched a “Grow Clean Water” initiative aimed at educating young families in the Philadelphia region about the connection between farming practices and healthy rivers and streams.
The initiative, funded by the William Penn Foundation, is part of a larger project to reduce agricultural runoff in the Delaware River Watershed, a watershed which spans parts of 4 states and provides drinking water to more than 13 million people including residents of New York City, Trenton, Wilmington, and Philadelphia.
With nearly 15,000 farms in the watershed, agriculture comprises a large portion of its land use and erosion, pesticides, and fertilizers from farm fields are its largest pollutants—harming both wildlife and human health.
The Grow Clean Water campaign teaches families that supporting healthy farms, such as organic farms using practices like reduced tillage, crop rotation, and composting, can have a positive impact on both soil and clean water. The campaign educates families to look for the “Certified Organic” label to learn more about a farm’s practices.
Families should visit GrowCleanWater.org to learn more about this important issue through educational videos and content, and pledge to support clean water. Families that sign the pledge will receive a free pledge kit (valued at $15) containing an organic herb grow kit, recipes, informational poster & stickers, a reusable organic sandwich bag, a postcard to thank a local farmer, and more.
“The way we treat the land directly impacts our environment and clean drinking water,” said Andrew Johnson, Watershed Protection Program Director at the William Penn Foundation. “Because farmland comprises such a large portion of the Delaware River watershed, it presents an opportunity to use practices on these lands that will protect the clean water source for more than 13 million people, including residents in PA, NJ, NY and DE. Rodale Institute and Stroud Water Research Center are at the forefront of developing methods for farmers to use that are good for their soil, good for clean water, and also good for their bottom line.”
In addition to the Grow Clean Water consumer campaign, Rodale Institute is tackling the issue of agricultural runoff with research and farmer training, also funded by the William Penn Foundation. In 2018 the nonprofit began the Watershed Impact Trial, a new long-term side-by-side comparison of organic, conservation, and conventional farm management practices and their impact on water quality. This research is a collaboration between Rodale Institute and the Stroud Water Research Center and is located on 40 acres of sloped land in Chester County, Pennsylvania.
The issue of agriculture runoff is gaining importance nationally and internationally as contamination is reaching crisis levels. This year, the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico—a toxic algae bloom that kills fish and wildlife caused largely by runoff from Midwest farms—reached the size of the state of New Hampshire.
“We want consumers—average, everyday American families—to understand that they can have a positive impact on the alarming headlines they see in the news,” said Diana Martin, Director of Communications, Rodale Institute. “We want to arm people with information so they can make changes at home that ultimately have a ripple effect across all of agriculture and our food system.”
Visit GrowCleanWater.org to sign the pledge, get your free pledge kit, and to watch the educational videos. The campaign plans to host events in the Philadelphia area starting in 2020.