Photo: Chesapeake Bay Foundation

DIY Underwater Grasses: Va. Volunteers Needed

If you went into 2020 with a resolution to give back, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) has your first opportunity to make a positive impact on the Bay.

CBF is calling on Virginians to grow their own underwater grasses, which will later be transplanted to key waterways. Volunteers can grow native wild celery grasses at home, school, or even at work, under the foundation’s Grasses for the Masses program. Wild celery grasses grow underwater in Virginia’s tidal rivers. They help clean the water, by absorbing harmful nutrients and increasing oxygen levels. They act as a barrier to slow erosion. And they give marine critters a place to live.

In the past, submerged grasses have taken a hit from pollution. But CBF says they’re beginning to make a comeback.

“We need your help to restore Virginia’s vibrant underwater grass beds. Grasses for the Masses is a fun way for anyone to pitch in for the health of their local river,” says CBF Virginia Grassroots Coordinator Gabby Troutman. “Underwater grasses provide shelter for fish and crabs, absorb pollution, stabilize shorelines, and improve water clarity. This is a great way for you to take part in expanding key habitat.”

To join the Grasses for the Masses effort, you must attend one of the upcoming workshops offered in Richmond, Northern Virginia, Fredericksburg, or Williamsburg. You’ll learn how to grow and nurture grasses planted from seeds in trays that are submerged in tubs. The materials are supplied. You’ll take care of your baby grass sprouts until late spring, when CBF will move the grasses to restoration sites in the James, Rappahannock, Chickahominy, and Potomac rivers.

There is a $40 fee for the growing kit, seeds, and instruction. For more information and the schedule of workshops, click here. Volunteers must register for Grasses for the Masses in advance.

-Meg Walburn Viviano