I laid my head down on my pillow on a bunk bed at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Port Isobel Island Environmental Education Center and there was complete silence. I could hear absolutely nothing. No cars driving by, no emergency vehicle sirens, no planes flying overhead, no dogs barking, no upstairs neighbors jumping around, no fan, no tv, nothing. All of which I hear when I settle in for the night at my condo in northern Virginia. Occasionally the air conditioning kicked on and that made me feel a little more at home.
The silence isn’t the only difference between life on a small island in the Chesapeake Bay and life in northern Virginia. Most of the residents of Tangier Island make their living off the water. They are isolated. There are more golf carts and bicycles than cars to get around.
But there were many similarities to those who have built their livelihood off the water and those who built it off the land. We visited with several producers – farmers (of land and water) and fisherman – who share a passion for making the best use of natural resources to feed others.
This seminar visiting the Northern Neck and Tangier Island showcased where people, agriculture and the environment collide. The Chesapeake Bay is a precious resource. Farmers and people throughout a very large watershed area have an impact on the quality of the bay. People want to be able to enjoy this resource and some make their living off of it. It is incumbent on all of us to protect it, but we have a lot of differing opinions and competing interests to balance.
As an added bonus, the sunsets and sunrise (I only caught one of those) were spectacular: