A small stream flows out of the mountains in Lancaster County, PA, near the Berks County border, with water as clear as a freshly wiped window pane. It winds through woods and over stones, shaded by trees and embraced by undeveloped land.
Downstream, where the trees give way to farmland, the stream flows through an enclave of Amish farms, first through Benuel Zook’s pasture and then through Raymond King’s.
As recently as 2012, the stream ran brown once it hit pasture. It was often lined with up to 250 cows, from the first pasture to the last, about 40 from each farm. Their manure, combined with soil from eroding banks, entered the stream.
But then farmers began to make some changes — and delivered a chain of conservation actions with collective results.[Continue Reading]