Volunteers across Virginia can help restore wild underwater grasses with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Grasses for the Masses program by growing them at home, school, or work.
These wild celery grasses are submerged plants that play an important role in local rivers and the Chesapeake Bay, but have been seriously depleted over the years by pollution and cloudy water. To participate, volunteers must register to attend one of several upcoming workshops in Richmond, Northern Virginia, Fredericksburg, and Williamsburg.
“Beautiful and easy to grow, underwater grasses are a vital part of the Bay’s ecosystem. They provide habitat for crabs and fish, filter polluted runoff, protect shorelines, oxygenate the water, and mitigate climate change,” said CBF Virginia Grassroots Coordinator Blair Blanchette. “But underwater grasses need your help. The Grasses for the Masses program is a fun, hands-on activity for all ages.”
The program allows anyone to grow these grasses from seed in trays submerged in tubs. Volunteers nurture their grass sprouts until late spring, when they are mature enough to be transplanted to nearby permitted sites in the James, Rappahannock, Chickahominy, and Potomac rivers.
Advance registration is required. Participants will receive a self-contained indoor growing kit, seeds, and instructions at any of the following workshops:
- In the Richmond area, on Jan. 30 and Feb. 3 at the REI store in Glen Allen and on Feb. 3 at CBF’s downtown Richmond office;
- In Northern Virginia, on Jan 25 and Jan 27 at the Fairlington Community Center in Arlington and on Feb. 3 at Northern Virginia Community College in Alexandria;
- In Fredericksburg, on Jan. 27 at the Central Rappahannock Regional Library, and;
- In Williamsburg on Jan. 28 at the James City County Recreation Center.
Underwater grasses are among the Chesapeake’s most critical natural resources, with numerous benefits for the Bay and its rivers and streams. These plants reduce erosion, increase oxygen levels, and absorb some of the harmful nutrients that enter our waterways. They also provide food and shelter for important Bay species, such as blue crabs, fish, and waterfowl. The grasses planted in Bay tributaries through the Grasses for the Masses program are making a real difference in the health of waterways.
There is a $40 fee per grass growing kit, which includes a one-year CBF membership. Volunteers can find more information, register, and pay the program fee online at www.cbf.org/grasses.