Maryland & Virginia Milk Producers, Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, and The Piedmont Environmental Council Partner to Support Volunteer Tree Planting Project on Virginia Dairy Farm
Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay (Alliance), Maryland & Virginia Milk Producers Cooperative Association (MDVA), and The Piedmont Environmental Council are excited to announce the completion of a forested riparian buffer planting on a local Virginia farm, J Team Dairy LLC. This event hosted roughly 30 volunteers in the local area who helped plant 220 trees on approximately 1 acre along a tributary of Potato Run. The trees will help improve local water quality by reducing the amount of nutrients and sediments entering the Rappahannock River Watershed.
This sustainability project was kickstarted with “Accelerating Conservation in Virginia through Alliance’s Clean Water Partnerships,” a National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Innovative Nutrient and Sediment Reduction (NFWF INSR) grant awarded in 2021 to support a unique partnership between the Alliance and MDVA.
The partnership has received $1,000,000 in funding from NFWF and a $1,000,000 in-kind match from the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation to support the implementation of sustainability practices on Virginia dairy farms that supply milk to Maola Milk. The main goal of this collaboration is to help local dairy farmers achieve their sustainability goals while also helping achieve broader Chesapeake Bay pollution reduction goals.
“Dairy farmers, like J Team Dairy, want to have a seat at the table and be considered an environmental solution. As proud owners of Maola Milk, we’re pioneering unique sustainability partnerships that ensure we’re the sustainable choice for dairy for consumers up and down the east coast,” said Lindsay Reames, Executive Vice President of Sustainability & External Relations at Maryland & Virginia Milk Producers.
This funding opportunity has allowed for the support of the implementation of a variety of agricultural best management practices on a farm in Orange County, Virginia, named J Team Dairy. J Team Dairy was established in 2002 by the Elgin family. They milk 220 cows, with a focus on strong herd genetics and high milk quality. The family farms 175 acres, growing crops including corn, rye, and triticale. J Team Dairy is a member of the MDVA, proud producers of Maola Local Dairies products.
The Elgin Family approaches dairy farming with a focus on animal care and sustainability. In addition to the upcoming tree planting, the farm is working closely with MDVA, the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, and other environmental organizations to construct a bedded pack barn and a manure storage facility to reduce runoff to local streams and keep cows cool, clean, and dry. The farm also utilizes cover crop practices to keep soil and nutrients on the farm and out of local streams.
“I think farmers have the responsibility that we need to protect the environment and be sustainable, and so we need to hold onto our natural resources. It’s our job. It starts with us,” said Molly McWilliams with J Team Dairy.
Thanks to both Culpeper Soil and Water Conservation District and The Piedmont Environmental Council’s funding programs, all costs of the tree planting project on the J Team property are covered. This additional funding has allowed for extensions of the funding the Alliance and MDVA were awarded by NFWF to be used to help assist in covering a portion of the higher cost of larger infrastructural BMPs.
“Riparian buffer planting projects, like the one at J Team Dairy, provide immense contributions to water quality locally, and also contribute to Virginia’s commitment to the Chesapeake Bay Program. Installing and/or enhancing riparian buffers improves habitat on land and in water, increases bank stability, filters agricultural runoff, contributes to climate change resilience, and offers flood protection. We thank the Elgin Family for all their work to improve water quality, and for providing the public with an opportunity to connect with the land in a palpable way that they may not experience otherwise,” said Linnea Stewart with The Piedmont Environmental Council
Collaboration is at the forefront of this work. Many dairy farmers are leaving the industry due to low milk prices. Those who are staying in the market realize there’s a huge need to increase their operations’ sustainability. However, many cannot prioritize conservation without supply chain support that brings significant funding, technical support, and incentives to manage their farms for the future.
“The health of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed is all of our responsibilities. It takes a team with different backgrounds and ideas to come and work together to find solutions and create projects that have a lasting impact on local communities and the environment,” said Christian Anderson with Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay.
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Adam Miller | 717-324-7820 | email@example.com
Amanda Culp | 540-333-9873 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Linnea Stewart | 540-347-2334 | email@example.com
Photo credit: Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay