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A Partnership that Works

In other parts of the state, where agriculture is the primary industry, those soil and water conservation districts (SWCD) have strong working relationships with their local Farm Bureaus. Agriculture may not be the prime industry in Cuyahoga County, but when it comes to partnering on conservation projects, the Cuyahoga County Farm Bureau has been one of Cuyahoga SWCD’s long-time and beneficial partners.

The Cuyahoga Farm Bureau, a grassroots organization with many active members, was founded in 1920. Over the years, we have collaborated on a variety of environmental and conservation training programs that have addressed animal waste, best practices for nutrient reduction, soil health and urban agriculture. We recently joined forces to hold our annual meetings, which provided both of our organizations opportunities to interact with each other’s constituents.

Thanks to the partnership with Farm Bureau, Cuyahoga SWCD has received grants from the Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation, which has helped us educate new groups of stakeholders about importance of pollution prevention and stewardship of the land and water. Cuyahoga SWCD and the Farm Bureau also partnered with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the OSU Extension to implement the grant funded projects, such as Growing Stewards of the Earth, which was targeted to students three watersheds and Conservation From the Ground Up, which raised awareness of ecosystem services composting, urban soil health, soil management and pollinator habitat.

This May, we were notified that a joint proposal for Small Scale Solutions for Urban Agriculture was awarded funding, so the SWCD, Farm Bureau, NRCS and OSU Extension will be teaming up again to implement a project at the historic Stearn’s Farm.

Twice now, the SWCD was invited to participate in the Farm Bureau’s Google Hangouts, which gave the Cuyahoga SWCD staff an opportunity to explain what type of issues an urban SWCD tackles. Hundreds of students were from around the state participated.

Perhaps one of the most interesting aspects of our partnership with the Farm Bureau is being engaged with the Farm Bureau’s statewide Environmental Advisory Team, which allows us to contribute an urban SWCD’s perspective to current trends and issues and the policies that may be formulated to address those issues. Beyond that, the ability to meet with people from around the state, many of whom are farmers, to discuss current environmental issues and to learn about their concerns has been insightful. We may not entirely agree or support all of the Farm Bureau’s policies or those of any of organizations that we collaborate with, but we believe strong partnerships do allow us to better advocate and implement best practices for pollution prevention within Cuyahoga County.

-Blog Author, Janine Rybka, District Administrator

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