Mark Smallwood likes to get outdoors as soon as the sun rises.
Equipped with a wide-brimmed fisherman's hat and a walking stick, Smallwood, 59, has been walking about 10 miles a day since Oct. 1. But, his trek is about a lot more than just getting some good exercise.
Smallwood — executive director of the Rodale Institute, a nonprofit dedicated to pioneering organic farming through research and outreach — was one of an estimated 400,000 people who headed to New York City last month for the People's Climate March. People from all over the country flooded the streets of the Big Apple with banners and signs to express frustration and anger at a lack of action by global leaders in halting climate change.
But, after the last scream was heard and the last marcher cleared the street, Smallwood said there has been little talk about climate change since.
"Everything just went black; it's gone silent," Smallwood said.
That's when Smallwood decided to take matters into his own hands by embarking on a 162-mile journey from the Rodale Institute in Kutztown, Pa., to the nation's capital to hand-deliver a study on an answer to combat climate change and legislation to provide incentives for people doing the work.
Smallwood plans to take the Rodale study to experts at the U.S. Department of Agriculture to ask for their partnership in projects to work toward regenerative organic agriculture models.
But, Smallwood is also meeting with legislators to push for a bill that would end subsidies for farmers who are not using regenerative methods that would "build soil health."
"We have ways to measure carbon dioxide emissions," Smallwood said. "We should be rewarding farmers who are creating healthier soil. And they can do these things without bring organic."
Instead, Smallwood said the bill would push legislators to take the subsidies and give them to farmers working toward regenerative soil health.
Smallwood said farmers can work toward soil health by growing closer to nature and growing based on the standards of biology and not chemistry — such as using pesticides.
Smallwood stopped by McDaniel College on Wednesday as he made his way through Carroll, day nine of his journey, to talk to students about his work, and how they can become part of the movement to halt climate change.
The best way to halt climate change, according to Smallwood, is regenerative organic agriculture, reducing the amount of carbon dioxide through organic management practices and soil-carbon sequestration.
"It's creating a better planet today than you did yesterday — everyday," he said.
Through this system, Smallwood said agriculturalists can take four steps toward carbon dioxide reduction: cover crops, residue mulching, composting and crop rotation.
"But this can't be just in the United States, or just in Pennsylvania or just in Maryland," Smallwood said. "It must be worldwide."
Smallwood is slated to continue his journey to Washington, D.C., where he hopes experts and legislators are receptive to the ideas.
Reach staff writer Krishana Davis at 410-857-7862 or email@example.com.
Follow "Coach" Mark Smallwood's journey to fight climate change through regenerative organic agriculture at http://www.rodaleinstitute.org.
You can catch Smallwood at these locations over the weekend:
Day 10 — Friday, Oct. 10 — Lineboro, (on the Pa. border)
4255 Pierceville Road
Glen Rock, Pa. 17327
Time: Approximately Noon
Day 11 — Saturday, Oct. 11 — Westminster
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Day 12 — Sunday, Oct. 12 — Eldersburg