Parts of the Chesapeake Bay watershed contain a high percentage of impervious cover – paved or other hard surfaces such as roofs and roadways that prevent rain water from being absorbed into the ground. Instead, water runs along these surfaces, collecting trash and substances such as motor oil, lawn fertilizers, and pesticides. This polluted stormwater flows into streams and rivers, where it threatens aquatic ecosystems and public health. Effective stormwater management, on the other hand, creates safe paths for polluted runoff to be captured and filtered through the ground before it reaches waterways. This helps keep the environment clean and our communities healthy!
Project location: Baltimore, MD
Problem: Strength to Love Farm II is an urban farm managed by members of the Sandtown-Winchester community in Baltimore. Urban farms require a large amount of water but are typically located in areas surrounded by high levels of impervious cover, which does not allow for rain to be absorbed into the soil and used for irrigation purposes. Rain water flows into storm drains before it can become available for growing plants – and even if it reaches the farm, its volume, speed and contaminants makes it prone to damaging the crops.
Solution: Strength to Love Farm II developed an effective solution to this “feast or famine” water issue. The farm positioned four used shipping containers near the site; these containers capture up to 34,000 gallons of runoff from the farm’s hoop houses. Water is then used to irrigate the farm’s crops. This system turns a waste product (stormwater) into a valuable commodity (water for irrigation). Strength to Love Farm’s irrigation system won first place in the “Best Innovative BMP” category in the Chesapeake Stormwater Network’s 2015 Best Urban BMP in the Bay Award (BUBBA) competition.
Funding sources: MD Department of Natural Resources’ Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund
Partners: Big City Farms; Biohabitats Inc; Parks & People Foundation
More information: http://www.farmalliancebaltimore.org/farms/strength-to-love-ii/