Grants: Agriculture/Pollution Prevention

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Farmland Preservation Workshop

Sep 2001

This project was a local extension of a series of workshops focused on current tools and techniques for protecting farmland and developing successful land use planning strategies. WIN funding assisted in the planning and implementation of a one-day workshop that will outlined available programs by bringing in expertise from around the nation to discuss these issues.

MIFFS MarketLine Promotion

Apr 2001

The Michigan Integrated Food and Farming Systems project is a non-profit 501©3 organization headquartered at Michigan State University. MIFFS focuses on fostering and implementing projects that attempt to improve the economic and social well-being of Michigan farms, farm communities, and the ecological well-being of Michigan’s natural resources. This project assisted in the expansion and promotion within the Saginaw Bay region of the MIFFS MarketLine website. MarketLine is designed to allow growers to register their ag-related products and consumers, such as restaurants or processors, to register the sorts of ag products they are searching for, thereby providing a link between local growers and local consumers that was not available prior to MarketLine.


Mar 2000

This project, sponsored by Saginaw Valley State University, built on work that has been done by the Saginaw County Health Department that has indicated lead exposure / contamination as a significant problem in the Saginaw By Watershed. This project worked to determine the practical and economic feasibility of using common plants for brownfield remediation of contaminated sites in the region. Studies were conducted at the control site on the SVSU campus, as well as at selected contaminated sites in the region. The study attempted to determine whether phytoremediation is indeed viable, and whether removal of lead from land that is currently vacant or not productive may become possible. Further, given that many residential areas and community gathering places (i.e. playgrounds) contain lead in the soil, this process may permit lead removal while causing little disturbance to current activities at the site.

Filter Strip Education

Oct 1999

Through this project the District worked with the Saginaw Bay RC&D, the Bay and Saginaw Conservation Districts, and the Farm Service Agency to develop a brochure and host a tour for farmland owners in the Tri-County area to inform them about the economic and environmental benefits of filter strips and the availability of federal support to install them.

Integrated Cropping Systems

May 1999

WIN’s support was directed at one year of this multi-year project. The purpose of this project is to develop data to demonstrate that reduced tillage practices improve soil health, maintain farm profitability and reduce soil erosion and impacts on water quality. The Innovative Farmers conducted a 5-year test of several cultivation techniques on the standard row crop rotation of dry beans, sugar beets and corn. They demonstrated that conservation tillage techniques generated the same per acre profit, while improving soil tilth and reducing erosion. They are going to continue to cultivate test plots to demonstrate additional techniques that improve returns and reduce impacts on water quality. Crop sales will help sustain the group’s activities in the future. The Innovative Farmers raised more than $49,000 to match WIN’s grant in 1998.

“Earth Tunnel”

May 1999

WIN provided funding in two installments for this project. The Earth Tunnel was completed in April 1999, and had its public ‘debut’ at Midland’s Earth Expo at the Midland Civic Arena on April 24, 1999. This mobile, “walk through” display is designed to educate children and adults about the connection between soil and everyday life. Side panels highlight conservation practices used to insure a healthier environment, demonstrate the usefulness of natural habitat in relationship to farming, and explain how vegetables are grown. The Tunnel is available for school programs, fairs, mall exhibits and other displays around the watershed. Funding from The Dow Chemical Company Foundation allowed the Soil and Water Conservation District to purchase a trailer to store and transport the Earth Tunnel. The District charges users $25.00 for each day they display the Tunnel. The charge covers insurance and maintenance on the Tunnel. Users also make a deposit to cover any damage to the Tunnel. The Tunnel was displayed at a recent meeting of the Agriculture/Pollution Prevention Task Group, and was very well received. The District raised more than $15,000 to match WIN’s grant.

Local Provenance Encouragement Project

May 1999

SVSU demonstrated that native plants are an attractive, low maintenance, environmentally preferable alternative to traditional landscaping. SVSU, working in partnership with staff from Dow Gardens, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and local nurseries established model gardens to educate residents and visitors about the economic, environmental and aesthetic benefits of native plants. The plantings also serve as a seed source for plantings elsewhere, and showcase plants indigenous to watershed prior to 1800s and of local provenance.

SnapShot: Saginaw Bay—Visions of a Watershed

Nov 1998

Project complete. DU distributed recyclable cameras to 500 grade school children in 10 schools, one girl scout troup and one downtown community center. Eastman Kodak generously provided the cameras at no cost. The schools and organizations that participated represent a cross section of the watershed’s communities, ranging from Flint to West Branch. The kids were asked to photograph the different components of sustainability in their communities — the economic, environmental and social attributes and concerns that distinguish the places they live. The 6th – 8th graders generated more than 7,000 images. Seventy of these images were selected for a gallery of pictures called SnapShot: Saginaw Bay — Visions of a Watershed. The photographers also prepared captions for their photos. The gallery was displayed at the National Town Meeting for a Sustainable America in Detroit, May 1-4, 1999. It was also displayed at the Council of Michigan Foundations Meeting Nov. 2-4, 1999. The Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation provided $1,600 to make this possible. The Communications Task Group will explore further options to display SnapShot around the watershed.