But his peaceful reverie was shaken by an article on the front page. A landmark study, “Food, Land and Water: Moving Forward”, painted a disturbing picture of the decline of water quality in Wisconsin. Manure and fertilizer runoff is making drinking water a health hazard for nearly 100,000 families, and it’s polluting parts of more than 1,000 Wisconsin lakes and streams. The excessive weed and algae growth and the bacteria can close beaches and kill fish. Perhaps most disturbing is the fact that gains made more than a decade ago are being erased because of lack of funding and cuts in human resources.
“What are we doing to ourselves?” Stu wondered aloud. “Destroying one of our most precious resources for the short-term gain of saving a few bucks!” Stu stewed all week. The following Sunday, he approached the mailbox with just the slightest bit of hesitation as he remembered the unsettling article that dampened his spirits last time.
But as Stu settled in with his steaming cup he was delighted to find an article about a homegrown hero. Gary Zimmer, local farmer and founder of Midwestern BioAg, was featured in an article about his pioneering work in soil regeneration and large-scale organic farming. The article detailed his current project to convert nearly 53 square miles of marginal South Dakota soil into water-conserving, nutrient-rich, organic fields.
“Zimmer’s methods seem like a kind of antidote to the practices that are causing the increasing water problems plaguing Wisconsin,” Stu murmured.
That evening, while tucking his daughter into bed he noticed her calendar. “Huh,” he said to himself. “Next Sunday is Earth Day, a day to reflect on our relationship with this planet. What is it we truly value – a few dollars today or a thriving environment on into the future?” he questioned while watching his daughter snuggle in. “We’ve been given this simple gift – clean water, healthy soil and fresh air, making us all stewards of the Earth. It’s ours to both enjoy and to safeguard because our only home is right here where we’re forever…Earthbound.”