Author: Elvia Thompson

rockfish image from DNR

According to a recent article in the Bay Journal, “The Maryland darter, one of the rarest fish in the world, has been missing in action for 33 years. Now, it is headed to the extinction list.”

And what is the reason? “According to an evaluation by the [US Fish & Wildlife Service] USFWS, the largest factors are decreasing water quality from farm runoff and fluctuating water levels created by the nearby Conowingo Dam.”

It’s just a little fish but it deserves to live too. This is emblematic of how actions have consequences and what happens when you interfere with Nature. Read the whole sad story here.

–Elvia Thompson

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annapolis green reads

I see many messages on social media these days to leave the leaves. While we’re at it, we can also leave flowers such as the spent purple coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea) because the Goldfinches love the seedheads. We could leave the winged sumac (Rhus copallinum) for the Eastern Bluebirds who eat the berries in the winter. Cleaning our yards has suddenly become considerably less arduous as word gets out that what we have regarded as a mess is part of nature’s cycle of life and death and we are the ones who don’t need to mess with it.

Societal norms don’t disappear overnight and HOAs still have outdated guidelines so there’s a middle ground while we adjust to healthier practices. If some of us have some front yard flower beds that we’d rather have a bit neater and a section of grass we’d like to see without leaves, we can focus on cutting back those spent flowers to about 12-18” for hibernating bees and put those errant leaves in the flower bed as mulch for the winter. The wildlife will appreciate it. Then, come April when the temperatures are consistently in the mid-fifties, we can resume that clean up we’ve become accustomed to doing in the fall.

a new garden ethicOur group read A New Garden Ethic: Cultivating Defiant Compassion for an Uncertain Future by Benjamin Vogt. This book is a beautifully written, strong directive to adjust how we garden. He presents a moral imperative to see that the plants we have around us need to benefit all of life, not just humans. For a plant to benefit the wildlife around us, it needs to be native to the area. While there is much discussion about what constitutes being native for a plant, Doug Tallamy describes a native as “a plant that has evolved in a given place over a period of time sufficient to develop complex and essential relationships with the physical environment and other organisms in a given ecological community.” (p. 31)

Native plant gardens give us access to the biophilia that we most recognize. When we watch with awe at the masses of bees feeding on the mountain mint or the monarch butterfly hatching from her cocoon at the stem of the milkweed, we know on some level that we are connected inter-beings. And then, to have the responsibility to plant something, we glimpse our potential as humans to contribute meaningfully to the natural world. Choosing natives like the Golden Alexander (Zizia aurea) that the black swallowtails use as a host plant to beautify our gardens is the important recognition that our gardens are not just there to look pretty in an anthropocentric way. We change our culturally-learned mindset of what it means for a garden to look pretty to be inclusive of all the life around us.

Cooperating with nature will benefit us all. We have the most control over what is in our yards. What a powerful statement of cooperation if each of us chose to dedicate the millions of acres of lawn to become a biodiverse ecosystem instead! I can only imagine that once we were to realize biodiversity in our immediate surroundings how that might reverberate and evolve into desires for other changes that would benefit the environment.

Our next book is Saving Us: A Climate Scientist’s Case for Hope and Healing in a Divided World by Katharine Hayhoe. We will be meeting in our usual hybrid fashion on Monday, December 6 to discuss it. Please contact me if you’d like to join us.

–Karen Grumbles

about the Annapolis Green Reads book club

 

 

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wild oysters

by Tom Guay, Executive Director
Severn River Association

severn river associationThe Severn River Association (SRA) has some really great news to report: oysters are naturally reproducing in the Severn River!

It doesn’t happen a lot, but it does happen. This is wonderful news because it means that one day, if we can maintain good water quality in the Severn River, we can recreate self-sustaining oyster habitat.

emi mcgeady holding oysters
Emi holds oyster that’s result of natural reproduction.

At right is SRA’s Field Investigator and oyster diver, Emi McGeady, pointing to an oyster that attached itself to piece of the granite substrate on the restoration reef known as Weems Upper.

The biological clue here is that this type of attachment is the result of natural reproduction. This is dramatically different from how oysters grow from the spat-on-shell oysters that SRA purchases from the Horn Point Hatchery in Cambridge, Md., for our  oyster restoration programs. See image below.

Emi studied scientific oyster diving techniques under the direction of Audrey Pleva, a veteran diver with the University of Maryland’s renowned Paynter Lab. Developing this in-house capability for SRA is made possible by a grant from the Chesapeake Bay Trust.

clump of oysters
Hatchery oysters grow in clumps like these.

This reproduction discovery was made this July by Emi and Audrey while conducting scuba diving operations to determine oyster population, density, survivability, sedimentation and other factors affecting oyster restoration efforts.

More good news: Our divers report that based on preliminary counts, our oysters are doing well. There’s a healthy density of oysters on all five of our restoration reefs.
They’re all waiting for the right conditions – that magic moment when the salinity is right, the moon breaks over the horizon, the music is soft and sweet, the candles are  glowing …

To reproduce, oysters need a key ingredient: salinity levels at 12 parts per thousand (ppt) or more. This does happen now and again in the Severn River. But most of the time, the Severn River’s salinity is in the 6- to 10-ppt range. Oysters do just fine in this range. They can thrive and once they’re mature (usually three years old), they can filter up to 50 gallons of water a day. And, when salinity breaks 12 ppt… magic can, and does, happen.

SRA is partners with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the Oyster Recovery Partnership to bring the oyster back to the Severn River through the Marylanders Grow Oysters and Operation Build-A-Reef programs.

Here are some more images of our oyster dive team in action:

Diver Emi floats with load of oysters
Emi with a heavy load of oysters for counting
A hard day’s work on SRA’s scientific research vessel, Sea Girl.
This little worm, a polychaete, is one of the predators that feed on oysters.
One of dozens of buckets of oysters sampled each day to assess oyster populations on our reefs (each is returned to its reef of origin).
Emi and Audrey count and measure oysters
What? There’s more to count?
maddy's tips

Maddy’s Tip #8: Driving Less

Today’s Sustainable Action: Driving less!
One action you could take to be more sustainable is taking alternatives other than driving to get to places. If you live close to somewhere you are going, consider walking or biking. For places you visit on a routine basis that are farther away, like school or work, consider carpooling to reduce the number of individual vehicles on the road. This will save you gas and reduce the amount of greenhouse gases that are released while you drive. You do not need to walk/bike everywhere, but by occasionally making these environmentally friendly options to get around you could greatly impact the amount of fossil fuels that are emitted into the atmosphere. Please consider this next time you are driving somewhere!

Today’s Fact:
Transportation contributes more to greenhouse gas emissions than any other sector in the United States: about 29 percent!

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It’s the next generation that will deal with the effects of Climate Change on the Earth so we are thrilled to publicize Maddy Brianas and her Tips! Maddy is an Annapolis teen who is passionate about protecting the environment. In 2019 she and her sister, Bella (and their parents), participated in our Have a Heart Do Your Part cleanup and then turned around and did a birthday fundraiser to benefit Annapolis Green!

Annapolis Green Reads Book Club

The Water Knife: A Dystopian Climate Future

the water knifeOur book group recently read the dystopian science fiction novel The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi about water rights and climate change in the western United States. Most of the readers found value in reading the violent story because of the realistic portrayal of characters and the role of institutions and corporations. Given that it’s important to reach people on important issues wherever their sensibilities lie, there could, feasibly, be many individuals who could connect to environmental concerns by reading a book like this.

I didn’t finish this book. The violence triggered an aversion to the subject matter with anger that I was being subjected to torture scenes in service to the story and feelings of eco-anxiety. Eco-anxiety is the feeling of overwhelm about the future of our environment and our place in it. I wanted to distance myself from the poor decisions that leaders could make on water rights in the western part of the country. All of the environmental issues we face are interconnected but I found myself wanting to reject this storyline and deny the possibility of chaos and destruction in hope that we can find a better path. I wonder, “How can we manifest a better, smarter future for the planet if we are entertaining the worst possible outcomes instead of the best?”

How can we deal with moments of eco-anxiety when we feel them? Many of us have already tapped into the therapeutic resource of time spent in nature; immersion, whenever possible, is immensely beneficial. When we touch, see, hear, smell, and taste aspects of the natural world, it calms and centers us. We reconnect with who we are. So, more of that! Another possibility is to contact a local environmental organization and get busy working with them. Getting out of our own heads and working to serve our community can feel so good. Turning toward education on environmental issues and learning about the efforts to resolve them can be helpful to dispel some fears. Ignorance is not blissful for many of us; knowledge can be reassuring. However, recognizing when we’ve reached our threshold is also a necessary part of self-care. Yet another outlet might be to listen to stories that people tell (ahem, book club!) or each write our own stories –  the human brain responds well to narratives and helps us to make sense of all that is around us. Finally, in these days of continued overwhelm, we can each consider talking with a mental health therapist to help us get through the times when things just seem too much.

a new garden ethic

Our next book is A New Garden Ethic: Cultivating Defiant Compassion for an Uncertain Future by Benjamin Vogt. If you would like to join our discussion, please contact me. We are meeting in person and on Zoom to accommodate everybody’s comfort level.

–Karen Grumbles

about the Annapolis Green Reads book club

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solar panels on K&B True Value rooftop

K&B True Value’s Solar Journey

by Rick Peters, Solar Energy Services

K&B TRUE VALUEJared Littmann was a real pioneer in 2012, when he made a substantial investment in a rooftop solar installation at his business, K&B True Value, to offset a chunk of the store’s electricity consumption. At that time, Solar Energy Services (SES) designed a 17 kilowatt (kW) solar project (72 panels in total) to offset about 15% of the store’s annual electricity consumption. With a projected payback of 5.5 years, this 2012 project was a good financial investment, but it was still a rare one.  At the time, many commercial building owners were not interested in solar if it could not offset 100% of their energy. While 100% offset is ideal, it was certainly not a requirement for a good financial project. Jared understood that and to his credit went ahead with the investment. As promised, the system offset the projected energy and paid his business back in under 6 years.

Solar Energy Services Inc. Over 40 Years

Fast forward to 2021.  K&B True Value’s solar system has been generating free energy for the business for years, but Jared wanted to do more. He reached out to SES and asked us to consider some options to increase his solar contribution. He had plenty of available roof space, so we looked at a supplemental system to the current one, but we also looked at a full new system to replace the 9-year-old system.

In a testament to the rapid decline in costs for solar, Jared was able to invest in an entirely new system to completely offset K&B True Value’s entire annual electricity consumption. That’s right – Net Zero on electricity! Have any other retail operations in Annapolis achieved this? We are not aware of any. Could other firms achieve this and benefit from the tremendous economics that will essentially provide free energy after the 7.5-year payback period? Yes, they can!

Solar energy costs have come down more than 75% since Jared’s first installation. That’s thanks to policy, competition, and scale. Now, many businesses and homeowners can achieve Net Zero electricity with relative ease, while making major improvements to the bottom line. Like Jared, businesses and homeowners can benefit from the state’s “netmetering” policy that allows excess solar energy to be fed back into the grid for credits to be used later. This allows the business owner to maximize the value of the solar investment without the need for batteries.

Some might wonder what happens to the energy that K&B True Value feeds back to the grid at times when the store is not consuming all the solar generation. Jared’s neighbors may not know it, but some of them are periodically using solar energy from Jared’s rooftop. The neighbors are paying the utility for that energy and Jared is getting a credit. And best of all, the line losses of transporting that energy are negligible since the solar energy is consumed by the nearest load. Typically, traditional electric energy incurs line losses anywhere from 10-15% when it travels from a wind or solar, coal or nuclear plant to the consumer. Rooftop solar gets consumed at or near the source of generation, reducing line losses and in many cases unloading the grid.

As this project develops, it’ll soon be time to remove the original panels from 2012. Jared is interested in donating them to a non-profit who will use them. If you know of any interested entities, please reach out to Jared at K&B True Value or Rick Peters at SES.

What’s next for Jared? He has visions of tying in electric vehicle charging and possibly battery backup in the future. Do you own your building and have some tax liability? If so, consider contacting SES for a free solar evaluation. Just ask Jared, you won’t regret it.

Editor’s note: K&B True Value is an Annapolis Green Founding One Hundred Supporter.

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annapolis harbor on an electric boat

Boating Electric is Clean, Green, and Chill

by Marguerite Duffy

 There’s a wonderful vibe among people on boats, especially if it’s electric powered. You can hear each other talk and are easily mesmerized by the gentle motion of floating. There’s no yelling over combustion noise or inhaling gas fumes. Boating electric is pure, green, and chill.

annapolis harbor on an electric boatIn May, I won a fabulous prize during Annapolis Green’s EV-Trivia night. It was a two-hour, free rental donated by Annapolis Electric Boat Rental. We were quickly introduced to owner Captain Greg Horne, a fun, gregarious and spirited local, with positive energy, for Annapolis, people, and zero-emission electric boats.

On September 18, we set out with nine friends to celebrate September birthdays from the Chart House pier in Eastport. Captain Greg and his devoted son, Madigan, were on hand to greet us. He walked us through the boat operation and a map of where we could go and where we could not.

Once our crew was aboard, Captain Greg reassured us with safety and cautionary tips. We also learned that the 22-foot Duffy (No relation to my family name!) uses 16 six-volt batteries, with a cruise life of five hours, and like electric cars, we would not hear her start. Our comfy-cushioned, noise-free excursion was a generous 2.5 hours.

annapolis harbor on an electric boatWe motored through Back Creek, a lively experience. Inland, people dined on piers, music bellowed from hillside receptions, hikers walked along Truxton Park, the Navy Chapel glowed with its new copper dome, and hundreds of boats were snugly tied up to docks. Sea boats of every size passed us: yachts, kayaks, paddle boards. Our Duffy 22 floated along at a splashing 5mph as we witnessed details missed by those moving faster.

Carl, our birthday Captain, ventured adeptly into rougher waters near the Naval Academy seawall. One crew mate, a retired Naval officer, briefed us on USNA plans for building the seawall 12-feet taller to counter climate change and flooding. The reality of preparing for sea-level rise was bedazzling and startling. We were heartened by the noble plans, yet, how small the seawall seems compared to our entire Chesapeake Bay watershed.

Returning to calmer waters, we ate clean, delectable treats from environmentally-friendly boxes. Inspired by the environmental ethos of Annapolis Green, there were no plastic containers, utensils or food wraps. We floated Green!

We returned during a beautiful sunset. What an amazing way to bring friends together, think green, and experience the serenity of electric boating in the ever-bustling Annapolis harbor.

 

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maddy's tips

Maddy’s Tip #7: Recycling correctly

Today’s Sustainable Action: Recycling!

Recycling correctly is a critical job that every human must do. It is important to recycle so natural resources are saved and so extra, non-compostable trash doesn’t pile up in landfills. Not only does this take up room, but it is not healthy for the soil. Things like cardboard, plastic bottles, and yogurt cups should be recycled! On the contrary, things like Styrofoam and candy wrappers can not be recycled. It is important to understand what can’t go in the recycling because just one misplaced item could cause the whole batch of recycling to be sent to a landfill. So next time you are throwing something away, think about whether it should go in the trash or recycling!

Visit this link to figure out what items go where in Annapolis and Anne Arundel County.  Also consider getting the Recycle Coach app to further help you recycle better!

Today’s Fact:

A single plastic cup can take 50 to 80 years to break down.

Related info: Hazardous Waste Drop Off Event, September 25

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It’s the next generation that will deal with the effects of Climate Change on the Earth so we are thrilled to introduce Maddy Brianas and her Tips! Maddy is an Annapolis teen who is passionate about protecting the environment. Last year she and her sister, Bella (and their parents), participated in our Have a Heart Do Your Part cleanup and then turned around and did a birthday fundraiser to benefit Annapolis Green!

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plogging graphic

Join the Plogging movement by picking up as you Run/Walk/Exercise
Imagine what we all can accomplish lending a hand together!

We are excited to introduce you to Girl Scout Cadette Isabella Taylor and her Silver Award project. The Silver Award is comparable to an Eagle Scout award that only 10% of Girl Scouts achieve. Here is the project in Isabella’s own words:

plogging flyerI am a Girl Scout Cadette in Troop 2259 currently working on my Silver Award Project. A Silver Award is the highest honor a Girl Scout Cadette can earn. Because I care about the environment and my community, I decided to do “The Plogging Project.”

What is plogging? Plogging comes from combining, “plogga” in Swedish “to pick up” and jogging and it is a combination of jogging/exercising and picking up trash. It originated in Sweden, but people all over the world participate in it. Sweden recycles more trash than they produce.

I have decided to partner with Annapolis Green so that they can help promote it because they are dedicated to using less plastic and keeping our community beautiful, clean and green.

Ploggers bring gloves and a trash bag, and as they see litter, they pick it up. The idea with plogging is that you are doing some kind of exercise while helping clean up litter. You can walk, you can jog, you can bring your dog, you can go as a group, whatever you want and wherever you want.

Join me and my friends and family during the month of September for some plogging wherever you are. Post your plogging pictures on Instagram with the hashtags #ploggingproject #annapolisplogging and tag us @ploggingproject to be entered to win prizes.

You can make positive change instantly by picking up litter instead of walking past it.

Lynne plogging
Lynne on a plogging run in her neighborhood.

And who knew our very own Lynne Forsman has been Plogging for the last 15 years every Sunday morning without knowing there was a term for it.

In case you missed her Earth Day request published in The Capital last Earth Day, click here.

We can all do our part — it just takes sneakers, glove and a bag!

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anne arundel county watershed stewards academy

Watershed stewards groupYou love our Chesapeake Watershed. You love your neighborhood. Why not bring those two passions together and become an Anne Arundel County Watershed Steward.

The Anne Arundel County Watershed Stewards Academy (WSA) is recruiting the next class — the 14th — right now. You can be part of it and of this amazing environmental group that truly feels like family.

What’s a Master Watershed Steward?

Watershed Stewards serve Anne Arundel County communities by installing landscape projects that reduce pollution and by organizing campaigns to encourage habits that make a difference. Collectively, these community-based actions reduce pollution at its source and improve the health of the entire Chesapeake Bay. And it’s fun!

watershed stewards group shot at project
@H2OshedStewards 

You don’t have to be an expert, WSA and graduated Master Watershed Stewards will show you the way. WSA provides a great opportunity to learn how to solve environmental problems in your own community and find a local network of energized leaders. This is hands-on, fun training that culminates with a research-based certification and a Capstone Project of your own design.  Graduates will have obtained the tools to implement change in their communities, turning knowledge into action.

The 2021-2022 course session runs from this October to next April. Typically, the commitment is for virtual classes once a week or less and field sessions on certain weekends. Learn more.

There are two more information sessions offered before the application deadline of September 24September 14 and September 22.

Do it! You’ll be so glad you did.

Elvia Thompson
Class 3 Master Watershed Steward

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Robert Lee oyster planting boat

by Tom Guay, Executive Director
Severn River Association

severn river associationoyster recovery partnershipBoy, do we have some great restoration news in the Severn River! Thanks to donors who love oysters, the Severn River Association and the Oyster Recovery Partnership just planted 24 million baby oysters and created a new oyster restoration reef.

The new bivalve arrivals are now ensconced in their happy home on the Traces Hollow restoration reef just south of the Route 50 Bridge. And, just a week later, they’re enjoying good water quality.

Jack BeckhamEmi McGeadySRA’s Field Investigators, Jack Beckham and Emi McGeady, report oxygen levels on the reef at 4.26 milligrams/Liter (mg/L).

This is pretty good water quality for this time of year. Salinity down there is good for our oysters, as well. Jack and Emi measured salinity at 9.12 parts per thousand (ppt).

In three years, when these guys mature (the oysters, that is), they’ll be filtering up to 50 gallons of water a day. And, one day, when the moon is high, the candles soft, the music mellow, and salinity is right (around 12 ppt), we hope that these baby oysters will naturally reproduce and start creating self-sustaining oyster reefs again.

The 2021 Operation Build-A-Reef project was the SRA/ORP partnership’s third effort, and it was funded entirely by private donations.

In July 2020, the Build-A-Reef operation planted 16.9 million oysters on a reef along Priest Point. In 2018, the  Maryland Department of Natural Resources planted 40 million oysters and the SRA/ORP partners leveraged community fundraising to plant an additional 5.1 million spat on shell. There were planted on three other historic oyster bars where the US Army Corps of Engineers had previously laid down substrate (hard surfaces) so the oysters will be above the muddy bottom of the Severn River.

These oyster restoration plantings are all part of SRA’s mission to one day have have 1.3 billion mature oysters cleaning and filtering the Severn every few days.

More good news ahead: A new report from SRA will detail how our oyster dive team has found proof that natural oyster reproduction is beginning to occur in the Severn.

Operation Build a Reef: Severn River was funded solely through grassroots donations from individuals, families, and businesses like title sponsor Smyth Jewelers, as well as the M&T Bank Charitable Foundation, and the Delaplaine Foundation, Inc. The program was made possible by Horn Point Laboratory, who diligently worked to spawn oysters, and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources who provided in-kind support. Learn more at buildareef.org.

GreenGiveSRA is a GreenGive participating organization.

#sraontheriver #oysters #waterqualitymonitoring #waterkeeperalliance #severnriver @oysterrecovery #riverkeeper

Photos: Blue Moon Photography

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annapolis green reads

“We basically have three choices: mitigation, adaptation, and suffering. We’re going to do some of each. The question is what the mix is going to be.” – John Holdren, a Harvard energy expert, as quoted in the book, The End of Ice.

The End of Ice book coverThe End of Ice by Dahr Jamail was a challenging read for many of us. There were no reassurances that all will work out for the environment and for humankind. Jamail wrote about what he has seen on his global adventures of the disruption to the environment caused by the climate crisis and he supports his observations with facts. With such a well balanced book, denial is not an accessible space for us to embody. Instead, he calls for an acceptance and an appreciation of what is still here in the present moment. There is a spiritual aspect to his perspective which some of us in the group found comforting. We also found it a stark and stunning wake up call and thought that many more people should read this book to recognize the level of degradation of the environment.

As Jamail says on page 216, “No one knows if the biosphere will completely collapse. Our future is uncertain. Given the fact that a rapid increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere coincided with previous mass extinctions and that we could well be facing our own extinction, we should be asking ourselves, ‘How shall I use this precious time?’ Thich Nhat Hanh reminds us of the value just in being present with what is happening to the planet: ‘When your beloved is suffering, you need to recognize her suffering, anxiety, and worries, and just by doing that, you already offer some relief.’”

Thich Nhat Hahn, the renowned Buddhist monk, addresses suffering in many of his books. He referenced the environment a bit in his book, The Art of Living, and offered this lovely sentiment: “Mother Earth is always doing her best to be as beautiful and fresh as she can be, to be as accepting and forgiving as she can be… And we, who are children of the Earth, can learn from her. We can learn to be as patient and tolerant as she is. We can live in such a way that we cultivate and preserve our freshness, beauty, and compassion.” His writings have been very helpful to me as I move from hope toward acceptance. From a place of acceptance, I can feel motivated to act with clarity and not feel quite so devastated by the harsh reality around me.

the water knifeOur next book is The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi, a science fiction novel. We will discuss it on Monday, September 27 at 7 pm. If you would like to join our discussions, please contact me.

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maddy's tips

We all love giving appreciation and celebration toward our loved ones, but birthday cards and thank you notes are most likely to be thrown away and are wasteful. So instead of the traditional card, or gift, maybe try a more sustainable option! This could mean making a PowerPoint presentation to give thanks on Mother’s or Father’s Day, an e-card, sending invitations or thank you messages via email or text, and any other creative options you can come up with! This tip will save paper and not let cards stack up in land wastes. So, you can still give thanks to people and celebrate their birthdays while being sustainable and earth friendly!

Today’s Fact:

Americans spend between $7 billion to $8 billion each year on over 6.5 billion greeting cards.

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It’s the next generation that will deal with the effects of Climate Change on the Earth so we are thrilled to introduce Maddy Brianas and her Tips! Maddy is an Annapolis teen who is passionate about protecting the environment. Last year she and her sister, Bella (and their parents), participated in our Have a Heart Do Your Part cleanup and then turned around and did a birthday fundraiser to benefit Annapolis Green!

burning earth

For years we’ve done our best to bring the global issue of Climate Change to you at the local level as we increasingly see the effects of what we should now call Climate Disruption right here where we live.

At the global level, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued its sixth report on Climate Change a few days ago and the bottom line is that the time for business as usual is over. We are on a trajectory now that will affect our lives in unprecedented ways, not in the far future, but in the next few years. Droughts, fires, storms and floods will get worse. Ambient temperature and ocean temperatures will rise. With each IPCC report the news is increasingly dire and the effects are coming at us faster than predicted. The UN has called it Code Red for Humanity — a sobering term.

At the local level, here in Chesapeake country, sea level rise will cause more and more flooding. Acidification of the oceans will likely affect marine life in the Bay. Everything is changing IN OUR LIFETIMES.

The IPCC report underscores how interconnected we are on this planet. Sea levels will rise here because ice is melting in far-away Greenland. Our days are getting hotter here because forests are being destroyed in other far-away places like the Amazon.

Here is a good summary of the IPCC report.

Sen. Chris Van HollenEarlier this week Senator Chris Van Hollen came to Annapolis to assure Mayor Gavin Buckley and County Executive Steuart Pittman that federal money will be coming our way for mitigation projects such as raising the City Dock area another six feet. He also announced introduction of his Polluters Pay Climate Fund Act that will “require the largest U.S.-based fossil fuel extractors and oil refiners and foreign-owned companies doing business in the U.S. to pay into a Polluters Pay Climate Fund based on a percentage of their global emissions. The Fund would then be used to finance a wide range of efforts to tackle climate change.” Read The Capital story on the visit.

There is hope.

The IPCC report is not all doom and gloom. It also states that there is still a little bit of time for the nations of the world to get together and act. Political leaders must be made to understand that this crisis transcends borders and politics. It is about our own self-interest and, frankly, survival of some semblance of the life we know now.

While the big steps to pull us off the brink of Climate Catastrophe have to be taken by governments and pollution emitting corporations, we can all influence what happens with our wallets and our pens.

First, be informed. There is information about Climate Change everywhere. Annapolis Green’s environmental book club, Green Reads is currently reading The End of Ice: Bearing Witness and Finding Meaning in the Path of Climate Disruption by Dahr Jamail. That, along with another book we read, The Future We Choose: Surviving the Climate Crisis by Christiana Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnac are good places to start.

Second, take small steps in your life that protect the Earth. Reduce your use of plastic as much as possible. Drink water from the tap — not from single plastic bottles. Use cloth instead of paper to clean your house. Take your own bottle to the coffee shop. Grow some of your own food — maybe just one tomato plant in a pot. Compost your food scraps and feed your garden with compost instead of synthetic fertilizers. Don’t use pesticides; they kill beneficial insects and are harmful to your own health. Eat less meat or none at all. Plant natives. Buy shampoo in cakes instead of plastic bottles. Drive an electric car. Plant native trees. Support organizations that are taking action.

You’ve heard all this from us before. Be willing to be inconvenienced for the sake of the planet.

Third, write! Let your representatives know that our planet is important to you: “You want my vote? Support the environment.” Write to corporations to tell them that you will NOT buy their products because they are over-packaged in plastic. Tell your favorite winemaker who uses plastic stoppers instead of cork that you won’t buy that wine again because the Earth is drowning in plastic. And if all of this writing is in social media posts too, even better.

We can all do something. Big movements have small actions at their core. Think of Mothers Against Drunk Driving and how that movement changed our culture. Here’s a heartwarming story about a young shepherd in Belgium who is doing his small part.

We can all do something. We have to. We are at Code Red.

Elvia Thompson

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maddy's tips

If you have a yard, then this tip is perfect for you. Along with other plants, you can grow species that attract butterflies! Plants such as Black Eyed Susans, Lavender, and different variants of Milkweed are some examples. These provide habitat and food for the butterflies. Butterflies are an important pollinator, so increasing their habitat will allow them to flourish and breed. Growing these types of plants in your yard will help to strengthen the ecosystem and support biological diversity. So next time you are buying new plants for your yard, consider buying butterfly friendly plants!

Today’s Fact:

Butterflies and other pollinators including bees, moths, birds, and bats pollinate over 75% of the world’s flowering plants.

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It’s the next generation that will deal with the effects of Climate Change on the Earth so we are thrilled to introduce Maddy Brianas and her Tips! Maddy is an Annapolis teen who is passionate about protecting the environment. Last year she and her sister, Bella (and their parents), participated in our Have a Heart Do Your Part cleanup and then turned around and did a birthday fundraiser to benefit Annapolis Green!

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annapolis green reads

Our Green Reads book group recently discussed The Monkey Wrench Gang with an equal number of people on Zoom and in person, a true hybrid experience.

monkey wrench gangThe Monkey Wrench Gang is a novel by Edward Abbey, who was an anarchist and environmental activist; his writing heavily influenced the environmental movement, especially out west.  Our discussion really homed in on what is environmental action as opposed to environmental terrorism and how it differs from civil disobedience. We each offered our thoughts about what we were comfortable with personally. Some of us could really see the value of eco action and appreciate the efforts that lead to change in policy over the years. Others of us were less comfortable with the approach that was demonstrated by the Monkey Wrench Gang. Perhaps there is a role for the whole spectrum of actions to eventually arrive at a place that is in the productive middle where real change can be made.

We all felt the frustration expressed by Edward Abbey vis a vis the characters in the book and we echoed them as we see them in the issues that we face today. We have read articles in the paper talking about the possible reduction of water available to major cities out west due to the drought. There are even officials contemplating removal of the Glen Canyon dam! One member of our group provided us with more context of the landscape, Lake Mead and Lake Powell, and the culture out there through her knowledge of the area and having known the guy who is portrayed as Seldom Seen in the book. She brought some pictures from 2015 to show the change in water level; the water level is now significantly lower.

golden gate bridge with sky orange with fire smoke

Frequently somebody in the group will say, “What can we DO about all of these problems?” Our increased environmental literacy is a great outcome of the group. I am recognizing that as we get to know each other better and can speak most authentically, this is a great forum for airing our feelings and concerns. We get to hear others say what we might also be thinking. Anxiety can be kept a bit at bay when our fears and frustrations are spoken aloud. There is real value in that.

The End of Ice book cover

Here is an article in the Washington Post that talks about How to cope with the existential dread of climate change. I think it is worth reading. Our book group can support at least one strategy in getting through these times.

Our next book is The End of Ice by Dahr Jamail. We will meet on Tuesday, August 24 at 7 pm. If you would like to join our discussions, please contact me.

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refill goodness logo

Zero-Waste “Toothpaste”

by Jenny Vedrani
Refill Goodness

Crest, Colgate, Sensadyne, Tom’s, the aisle is full of options.  Fresh mint, blue mint, yikes – more choices. What’s the right answer? If you have started your low waste or sustainable journey, you realize very quickly, it’s none of them. Not only do you question the ingredient list – fluoride or no fluoride? But what happens with those plastic containers?

As with most single use plastics, the unfortunate news is that your toothpaste tubes will find their way into your local landfill.  Statistically speaking, that’s 6 tubes per person per year in your household. For my family of five, that means we have the potential to put 30 tubes in the landfill per year. For the USA, it means a whopping 400 million tubes of toothpaste that go to the landfill each year. YIKES!

So, we set out on a mission to solve the toothpaste dilemma.  After several months of research and suffering through some salty and not so pleasant varieties we tested, the Refill Goodness team came up with a few solutions, but only one took the all-around top prize, and it was the clear winner – Change! Yes, that’s the product’s name.

change toothpaste tabs

After testing out every tablet option (and there are a lot) this brand won us over because it checks all the boxes: it foams, it cleans, and it leaves your breath smelling so fresh. Here’s the gist – you pop one in your mouth, bite down and start brushing with your wet, preferably bamboo, toothbrush. They also work great for camping. These tablets are available in three flavors, Spearmint (fan and owner’s favorite), Bubblegum (yay to no more blue goo in my sink and a happy seven-year-old, with clean teeth) and Cinnamon (for those who like the spicy flavor). And the best part? No packaging. Simply refill your jar on your next visit to a low waste shop.

david's toothpasteFeeling less adventurous? David’s toothpaste (another brand name) comes in an aluminum tube and the company follows sustainable practices.

Want to make your own? Try this recipe from mom4real – ½ cup coconut oil, 4 tablespoons baking soda and 15 drops of peppermint essential oil. Mix thoroughly and store in an airtight container.

We’d love to hear your thoughts – what low waste toothpaste options do you love? Email us and Annapolis Green.

Happy brushing!

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biosafe straw photo

After over a year of seeing an avalanche of plastic, particularly single-use plastic, everywhere in the name of COVID, we are happy to see that one local company is forging ahead with plant-based alternatives.

BioSafe, the local company that created the black straws with a blue stripe that you might have seen in local restaurants, has made it easier now for restauranteurs to replace plastic straws with a product consumers like.

plastic straws with prohibited circle

Annapolis Green brought the issue of plastic straws to your attention a couple of years ago when we realized that 500 million plastic straws are used by American EVERY DAY. By in large, they are not recycled because they are just too small to be caught by recycling processing machinery. So, they end up either in the landfill or as part of the litter that plagues our land and eventually ends up in our waterways. And remember that any type of plastic does not break down, it breaks up into microplastics that wildlife mistake for food. That’s how plastic enters our food cycle and is, already, in our bodies.

Pollux Dietz, CEO of BioSafe Solutions, LLC, was concerned about the plastic proliferation before the pandemic and is even more so now that he is a father.

“Single-use plastic is a concern not only to our oceans and wildlife but to our own health,” he said. “Let’s face it: a straw is not the problem. However, the materials and manufacturing process’ philosophy is.” He added that we need to move toward manufacturing that works with Nature and with the entire life cycle of the product.

His company’s philosophy is not so much to affect behavior change on the part of consumers but to offer an eco friendly alternative.

“BioSafe believes that it does not have to be an all-or-nothing conversation when discussing the use of a straw. That’s why we have strategically partnered with US biopolymer manufacturers to use the newest, most advanced, plant-based resins to design our BioSafe products,” Dietz added.

Before COVID hit, BioSafe had enjoyed a great start in 2019 and was already gaining some attention in our community as interest grew in replacing single-use plastics with safe, plant-based products. BioSafe is a Maryland company. Its products are made in the USA, and the company also believes in working with local groups that give back to our communities – like Annapolis Green! Dietz has also worked closely with the Kent Island Beach Cleanups.

“All of our products are made from the highest quality bio-resins. We designed our straws with the customer and the environment in mind: no soggy straw, no bad aftertaste, and best of all, no harmful microplastics,” Dietz said. Proper disposal is either in an industrial compost stream or in the landfill trash.

“With our “Go Blue” straw, you don’t have to drink out of a noodle, a soggy paper straw, or change how you enjoy a beverage by going without a straw,” he said. “So go ahead, sip away guilt-free.”

biosafe logo

Two years ago, BioSafe’s signature black-with-a-blue-stripe straws were offered in just a few Annapolis restaurants. At about the same time Annapolis Green launched Plastic Free Annapolis, our public information campaign with the City of Annapolis. Timing couldn’t have been better! We included the easy-to-spot Go Blue straws in the compostable clamshell toolkits we distributed to restaurants as part of the Plastic Free Annapolis outreach.

We are excited to once again work with BioSafe to help Annapolis to become the first “Think Green, Go Blue” city with as many restaurants and bars as possible offering these compostable straws and leaving behind the plastic straw epidemic once and for all!

And cheers to Pussers’ Caribbean Grill for leading the way with responsible sustainability (and the Go Blue straw) right on our waterfront!

“We know we have a good product, yet, having worked in restaurants for over 20 years, we know that we have to have an easy and reliable distribution plan to successfully service our growing account list,” Dietz said. The company now offers its product to restaurants through established distribution channels with which they are familiar.

But BioSafe is not done. Look for the BioSafe products that go beyond straws in the near future. “BioSafe will continue to bring you the best environmentally friendly products to change our world for a better tomorrow,” Dietz said.

In the meantime, join Annapolis Green this Plastic Free July to remove as much plastic from your life as you can, particularly single-use plastic. The planet needs all of us to do our part. Small actions by many add up! It’s time to take BioSafe’s motto to heart: “Think Green, Go Blue.”

Here’s where BioSafe straws are offered locally:

  • 1771 Grill and Taproom
  • Acme Bar and Grill
  • Boatyard Bar & Grill
  • Galway Bay Irish Restaurant and Pub
  • Harry Browne’s
  • Ketch 22
  • Level a small plates lounge
  • Pusser’s Caribbean Grille
  • Sailor Oyster BaThe Point Crab House & Grill
  • Vida Taco Bar
  • West End Grill

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maddy's tips

Maddy’s Tip #4: Reusable Cleaning Supplies!

Today’s Sustainable Action: Reusable Cleaning Supplies!

This tip can be used for all sorts of supplies, but today we will be specifically focusing on cleaning supplies. Instead of buying a new bottle of soap or window cleaner every time you run out, you could buy a reusable and sustainable dispenser.

This means that you will simply refill it from a bigger container when you run out. This sustainable and cost effective method can be used for hand soap, window cleaner, and other cleaning supplies.

Also, for things like body wash you can use bar soap that doesn’t use any plastic packaging.. This is a good way to save money and use fewer plastic containers (made from fossil fuels) that harm the environment.

Thank you for reading this week’s tip!

Today’s Fact:

Bar soap is generally considered the most sustainable soap option, with 10 times less of an environmental impact than liquid soap.

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It’s the next generation that will deal with the effects of Climate Change on the Earth so we are thrilled to introduce Maddy Brianas and her Tips! Maddy is an Annapolis teen who is passionate about protecting the environment. Last year she and her sister, Bella (and their parents), participated in our Have a Heart Do Your Part cleanup and then turned around and did a birthday fundraiser to benefit Annapolis Green!

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Annapolis Green Reads Book Clubgroup in farm fieldOn July 17 we went on a field trip to Ard Brac Acres, a small regenerative farm in Pittsville, Maryland on the Eastern Shore. The inspiration for checking out a regenerative farm came from reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma where we were introduced to the methods of Joel Salatin. We were curious about how the operations might differ from a typical farm. Amanda, the owner and operator of the farm, with the help of her husband and two sons, is juggling multiple roles and responsibilities.

She kindly took the time to give us an extensive tour of their small operation. This is just the fourth year for them at their current location, so they are still getting established and growing. We all felt that we benefited from seeing a young farm as their processes are still being worked out and they are still discovering new possibilities.

strawberries

blueberries

They are growing a varied selection of fruits and vegetables including strawberries, blueberries, three kinds of kale, onions, shallots, cabbage, tomatoes, corn, squash, and pumpkins. Amanda is currently planning another crop of strawberries. The chickens provide eggs, and their litter fertilizes the fields as the farmers move the chickens from field to field in large, moveable crates they call chicken tractors. Other chickens are slaughtered on the farm and Amanda showed us the mechanics of their process.

Adorable little chicks are living safely in the greenhouse until they are old enough to join the others. A couple of “intellectually challenged” turkeys hang out with the chickens until Thanksgiving.

They have started the endeavor of raising goats that are entertaining to watch.

farmer with chicken crate in field  

The pigs are raised for slaughter. We saw six large ones that have become food aggressive and were destined for the slaughterhouses within days while there is a separate area for the younger ones who can’t compete with the older pigs for food. They are fed both purchased feed and anything in the fields that can’t be sold. Overall, all of the animals seem to be treated as humanely as possible since they are not contained in an industrial agricultural setting.

kale in the field

However, this experience provoked my discomfort by recognizing the lack of connection that we generally have to the animals we eat; I inch even closer to a fully vegetarian diet. Not everyone in our group shared by my thoughts in this regard.

The soil looked great, and the produce looked and tasted fantastic. Our group enjoyed tasting the blueberries and kale and felt fortunate to purchase freshly picked blueberries, eggs, pork, chicken, and scrapple before departing. Amanda maintains a small CSA (Community Supported Agriculture – a case of available food supplied weekly as a subscription) for those who are local and also has a market and a street-side stand on Sundays.

We all thought that a side trip when traveling to or from the beaches would be a detour well worth making to stock up on all that she offered. Amanda’s entrepreneurial spirit should serve her well in making Ard Brac Acres a success. If you happen to be looking for sustainably harvested food on the Eastern Shore, we would recommend that you stop at this small business along the way. More about the farm.

Our next book, for July reading, is Edward Abbey’s The Monkey Wrench Gang. This book of fiction is an entertaining summer read. Although our Green Reads “gang” isn’t up to much mayhem, if you’d like to join our environmental book group, please contact me.

Happy Reading,
Karen Grumbles

green reads at ard brac acres farm

about the Annapolis Green Reads book club

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maddy's tips

Today’s Sustainable Action: Reusable and Washable Masks!

Throughout this pandemic it was probably an easier option for most people to use disposable masks, but as the pandemic winds down please consider using washable masks. These are less harmful to the environment, for disposable ones often end up in waterways and in the ocean. They also cause harm to the environment because they are single use, are made with fossil fuels and produce greenhouse gases every time a new one is made. Buying one or two fabric masks will save you money and save the environment. You can buy them on Amazon and in most stores. Thank you for reading my sustainable tip, and remember to stay safe!

Today’s Fact:

Around 75 percent of the used masks, as well as other pandemic-related waste, will end up in landfills, or floating in the seas.

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It’s the next generation that will deal with the effects of Climate Change on the Earth so we are thrilled to introduce Maddy Brianas and her Tips! Maddy is an Annapolis teen who is passionate about protecting the environment. Last year she and her sister, Bella (and their parents), participated in our Have a Heart Do Your Part cleanup and then turned around and did a birthday fundraiser to benefit Annapolis Green!

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GreenGive

An online, collaborative initiative to raise funds for and increase awareness of 10 local, small environmental organizations…

We have always said that we a tad different, “a different shade of green,” making us a unique partner in the GreenGive group. Our mission is to bring the community together, for the Greener Good, and we’ve been doing that for the past 14 years. We focus on all aspects of Climate Change and on building a resilient and thriving community that protects the environment.

Of course, we want to you to learn about all 10 GreenGive organizations, since we are all doing good work — each in our own way. Yet, you may ask: Why support Annapolis Green in the GreenGive?

Here’s a bit about just some of what we’ve been up to in just the last few months and our view looking forward.

Plastic Free Annapolis
Annapolis Green continues to bring attention to the scourge of plastic of all kinds, particularly in our waterways where wildlife mistakes it for food. Soon we will launch “No Butts in the Bay!” with the City of Annapolis, a public education program about damage caused to our waterways by the cigarette butts (they are plastic, not biodegradable) that are thoughtlessly discarded on the street and then washed into streams. Read more.

Kick Gas! In Annapolis.Kick Gas Annapolis – Driving Electric!
Getting around without producing greenhouse gas emissions IS our future and Annapolis Green is the only local nonprofit consistently providing education and access to exciting developments that are moving us toward this goal. In April we initiated a six-month campaign on EV action. Each month will feature programming culminating in a large in-person show at City Dock on Sunday, September 26, during National Drive Electric Week. Read more.

here we grow logoHere We Grow
We’ve been championing modern-day Victory Gardens to encourage people to value the land and Nature by installing, developing or updating their gardens to provide beauty, food, and pollinator habitat. Our demonstration garden at 92 Maryland continues to thrive and turn heads as we showcase our use our compost, natural gardening techniques, and encourage people to plant veggies right in with native flowers, even coining the term Beautiful & Delicious. Read more.

Green REFResponsible Events & Festivals (REF)
More than ever as we are all so anxious to come back out and participate in the many special events Annapolis has to offer, we need to recognize our responsibility to our environment. Last year we gave Mother Nature a break as we stayed home but sadly, single-use has soared. We are working to create a better normal that underscores the importance of sustainability applicable to event sites, organizers and attendees with an online toolkit, coming soon. Contact us to learn more.

naptown tap logoNAPTOWN TAPs
Our popular portable water refill stations are in demand and coming back out! Straddling both the Plastic Free and REF programs, we are working to meet the demand with sponsorships available to help us deploy! If you’re interested in demonstrating your commitment to clean water with a sponsorship, please let us know. Read more.

green drinks annapolisIn the fall we plan to relaunch Green Drinks in the beautiful setting of Homestead Gardens in Davidsonville. It will be great to reconnect in person! Save the date: September 22.

Also in the fall we will have our first Harvest Dinner at the beautiful Honey’s Harvest Farm. Stay tuned for details.

All of our programming is designed to connect you with our community and with Nature and is possible only with your support. Every dollar raised will be turned into these projects and programs that really do make a difference right here in Anne Arundel County. We all love our Chesapeake Bay and consider it a national treasure.

Please click here to donate to Annapolis Green During the GreenGive.

GreenGive organizations intend to make sure that the waterways that feed into the Bay are clean and ready for fishing, crabbing, swimming and boating. There is no better legacy we can leave the next generation.

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maddy's tips

Today’s Sustainable Action: Washable Towels!

Paper towels use lots of trees and fossil fuels to make, and they also produce a massive amount of waste. A healthy alternative for drying your hands can be reusable and washable towels! Cloth rags and hand towels are more eco-friendly and will cut down on the money you spend. Our family started using towels during quarantine because it was more affordable then having to buy single use paper towels. You can buy these by simply searching for “hand towels” or “hand rags” on Amazon or at your local grocery store. Thank you for reading my sustainable action today and I hope you will keep my tip in mind next time you are buying paper towels!

Today’s Fact: Globally, discarded paper towels result in 254 million tons of trash every year.

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It’s the next generation that will deal with the effects of Climate Change on the Earth so we are thrilled to introduce Maddy Brianas and her Tips! Maddy is an Annapolis teen who is passionate about protecting the environment. Last year she and her sister, Bella (and their parents), participated in our Have a Heart Do Your Part cleanup and then turned around and did a birthday fundraiser to benefit Annapolis Green!

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maddy's tips

Today’s Sustainable Action: Using Reusable Bags!

Instead of using single-use plastic bags, you can use reusable bags. These can either be reusable plastic containers or reusable sandwich bags; these can be used for lunches and other everyday things. Using these cuts down on the amount of waste you produce that ends up in the landfill.

Making single-use plastic bags is also harmful to the environment, for their production involves fossil fuels.

Taking this action will reduce the amount of money you will be spending and protect the environment. There are many different places you can buy reusable items, such as Amazon, by simply searching for “reusable sandwich bags” or “plastic food containers.”

Thank you for taking the time to read this, and remember to always keep the safety of the environment in mind!

Today’s Fact: 300 million plastic bags end up in the Atlantic Ocean in just a single year.

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It’s the next generation that will deal with the effects of Climate Change on the Earth so we are thrilled to introduce Maddy Brianas and her Tips! Maddy is an Annapolis teen who is passionate about protecting the environment. Last year she and her sister, Bella (and their parents), participated in our Have a Heart Do Your Part cleanup and then turned around and did a birthday fundraiser to benefit Annapolis Green!

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Annapolis Green Reads Book Club

braiding sweetgrassRarely does a book come around that fills me with hope and inspires me with possibilities, much less shift my perception. In the shit storm of suffering that was 2020, Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer was that book for me. Kimmerer is a lovely writer whose prose sometimes verges on poetic, especially when she talks about plants and the ways and practices of Native Americans.

The stories that she brings to explain her perspective on life and living are gentle reminders that we can adopt a different way of being in the world. She acknowledges that we, as humans, are consumers and presents ways that gratitude and reciprocity can be key factors in how we conduct ourselves.

She addresses the theme of greed using the story of the Windigo. She brings to the forefront our relationship to plants in the western tradition as objects rather than as subjects in the Native American tradition. If we could move away from calling a plant “it” and recognize the plant as a non-human person, how would our relationship change? I find the concept of personifying all living beings very appealing.

What are some of the guidelines she gives us? When I hear them, they sound like common sense advice for managing any transaction. She is focusing, of course, on our relationship to plants and to the environment. Protocols such as “Never take the first plant of a species that you see,” “Take only what you need,” and “Minimize harm” are three of the ten that she lays out. By practicing these protocols, we respect the rights of Mother Earth. It’s worth reading the book if only to learn what the other protocols of an honorable harvest are!

silent spring cover

Our book group unanimously enjoyed and appreciated Braiding Sweetgrass. Our next book is the classic, seminal Silent Spring by Rachel Carson. In honor of Earth Day, we will be meeting that week on Monday, April 19 to discuss it. How have things changed since this book was written? What still needs to be addressed? What other issues have come to the forefront over the last sixty years?

If you would like to join in our discussion, please contact me. Unless we find ourselves with an extraordinarily nice day so that we can meet outside, we will continue on Zoom for now.

I hope that everyone is getting an opportunity to be outside in Nature to enjoy the miracle of Spring where living is reaffirmed and life is started anew. The Serviceberry is blooming as well as the Redbud. The Virginia Bluebells are nodding in the breeze while the Golden Ragwort is spreading and standing proud with its yellow blooms. Close by to me, I watch two Bluebirds attend their nest in the birdhouse we recently relocated and I laugh at the little Skinks as they scurry across the deck. There’s suddenly so much going on that I could write pages just on my observations!

Stay well,
–Karen Grumbles

about the Annapolis Green Reads book club

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Founding One Hundred Spotlight

founding one hundred

Our partner in Pumpkin Spice Compost and all our composting since we started is Founding One Hundred supporter Veteran Compost – a wonderful local company owned by a Gulf War veteran. We can’t exactly remember “the when, ” but all it took was meeting owner Justen Garrity, a charismatic Army vet doing something terrific with food waste and AND employing other veterans… hence the name, Veteran Compost.

We couldn’t help but engage the special events we were helping Green with recycling and other sustainable practices and to put focus on composting. We realized that switching from plastic disposables and serviceware to compostables, was to be a game changer. Our professional composter, Veteran Compost, made it possible for us to show event organizers that plastic could be replaced with compostable cups, plates and utensils for the good of the planet. For example, in 2019, with Veteran Compost, we composted more than 18 tons of organic material. Several events, including the 2500-person annual Rotary Club of Annapolis Crab Feast, were Zero-Waste greatly reducing our impact on the landfill!

Veteran’s goal is to fuel our growth with people and material that others pass over. By processing food scraps and compostable materials at its locations from many sources in Maryland and nearby areas, Veteran is able to offer the following products:

  • Compost (in bulk or bagged)
  • Worm Castings (aka worm poop – in bags)
  • Square Foot Gardening Mix (in bulk or bagged)
  • Potting Mix (in bulk or bagged)
  • SuperSoil (bagged)
  • Biochar (bagged)
  • Burlap

Additionally, the company provides services such as composting consulting, food scrap collection for businesses and residents (in certain areas) and special event food scrap collection. In fact, Veteran has provided event service not only to Annapolis Green events but also from small weddings to festivals with thousands of attendees such as:

Veterans offers three levels of service for special events from a basic pick up of compostables in bags, to delivery and pickup of its collection bins, to full-service with its staff monitoring its bins and the process and answering attendee questions.
If you have any questions or would like to request a quote, please email info@veterancompost.com

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line of deviled eggs

The fun begins when you have a slew of hard cooked (not the rubbery hardboiled). Mix and match a lot of condiments as you wish for a hand at “designer,” but try to keep a theme in mind – to not get too much fusion happening (you know… culinary confusion). Go for Cowboy style… black beans and salsa, Thai or Greek.

The great thing about eggs and “local” is that more and more of our farmers are now selling them then ever!

I’ve included this cooking procedure from a website on How To Boil An Egg (Don’t Skip This Part says Buster Bucks!) It’s the way I have always cooked a hard or soft cooked egg.

Make sure your eggs are at room temperature. Otherwise, the shell will split once you lower them into the boiling water, and you’ll have egg white leaking from the shell.

Bring your water to a boil FIRST, then add your eggs. The easiest way to do this is to use a soup spoon – put the egg into the spoon, then lower it carefully into the boiling water. Or, for many eggs, place them in a bowl and slowly slip them into the water.

Why boil the water first? Because when you put your eggs into boiling water, the hot water will cause the interior of the egg to shrink away from the shell, which makes it really easy to peel.

For boiling 10 eggs: after you bring a large pot of water to boil, lower your eggs into it using a soup spoon or bowl. Then set your kitchen timer for 10 minutes.

After 10 minutes, turn off the heat and let the eggs sit in the water for 5 minutes. Then pour off the hot water and add COLD WATER to cover the eggs. After a few minutes, pour off this water and add more cold water. In about 8 minutes your eggs will be cool enough to handle, and they’ll peel perfectly every time.

For ANY style of deviled egg, make sure to make the egg stuffing while the eggs are still slightly warm. That way the flavors will marry beautifully. If you make and chill the eggs a day ahead, douse them with some warm water to bring them to room temperature.

tray of deviled eggs

The World’s Best Deviled Eggs (again from Buster Bucks)

The following recipe is for making 20 deviled eggs — that is, from 10 hard-cooked eggs. Most deviled egg plates hold 18 deviled eggs. Make an extra 2 in case one of the egg white halves tears… or just to have as a treat for the cook.

  • 10 eggs (boiled per the instructions above)
  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • 3 tablespoons sour cream
  • 2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons onion, minced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh dill, minced (or more, to taste)
  • 3 dashes Tabasco sauce
  • 3 dashes Worcestershire sauce
  • milk (usually a few tablespoons — this will be explained in the recipe that follows)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Use a sharp knife and slice each peeled boiled egg in half. Use a teaspoon to carefully scoop out the hard yolk, and place the yolks in a small mixing bowl.

Put the white halves onto your deviled egg platter. (If you don’t have a deviled egg platter, then you can cover a standard plate with lettuce leaves and put your eggs on them. The lettuce leaves keep the deviled eggs from sliding around.)

To your yolks, add the cream cheese, sour cream and all other ingredients. Use your hand mixer to beat them. Using a mixer makes the stuffing creamy – and it’s a lot easier on your arms than smoothing out the yolks and ingredients using a wooden spoon!

Add salt and pepper to taste. (The mustard and Tabasco add a bit of bite, so add only a little salt at first, taste, then add more if necessary. It’s easier putting salt in than it is taking it out!)

About that milk listed in the ingredients: add it in, a tablespoon at a time, until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Many people don’t realize how important the texture is for making excellent deviled eggs. Think about it — too many people make gummy deviled eggs. The best ones are creamy — and adding the milk will give you this creamy consistency.

deviled eggs with peas

Sweet Pea Deviled Eggs

This recipe and the following are my own creations to vary a bit from the expected. Go ahead and design your whimsy. The pea tendrils are more available these days as local farmers have started featuring them as a special crop.

  • 6 hard-boiled eggs
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon grainy mustard
  • 1 tablespoon chopped shallot
  • Sea salt to taste
  • Tiny sweet peas, fresh or frozen, very lightly steamed and cooled
  • Perky pea tendrils

Peel the cooled eggs and slice in half. Scoop out the yolks, place in a small bowl and mash, adding the mayonnaise, mustard, shallot and salt. Spoon some filling into the well of each egg white and then make a hole in the center of the filling. Mound some sweet peas in each hole and press down lightly so they don’t roll out. Garnish with pea tendrils.

antipasto deviled eggs

Antipasto Stuffed Eggs

A slew of Italian antipasto ingredients make these stuffed eggs a gorgeous appetizer.

  • 8 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons minced Kalamata olives
  • 4 tablespoons roasted red bell peppers, drained and chopped
  • 3 tablespoons artichokes, drained and chopped
  • 2 teaspoons capers, drained
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
  • Fresh chopped oregano plus small leaves for garnish

Coarsely chop the yolks and mix with olive oil. Lightly toss in olives, roasted bells, artichoke hearts, capers, garlic and the chopped oregano.

Spoon the yolk mixture back into the egg white wells and set on a plate. Top eggs with remaining oregano leaves. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve.

deviled eggs with shrimp

Shrimp Deviled Eggs

My favorite, as it will be for many folks.

  • 6 hard-boiled eggs
  • 4 ounces cleaned cooked shrimp, chopped, plus extra for garnish
  • 1 tablespoon quality tartar sauce (such as Naturally Fresh-refrigerated)
  • 1 teaspoon horseradish
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon brandy or dry sherry
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic chives
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon thyme leaves
  • garnish with more chopped garlic chives

Half the eggs remove the yolks and mash; mix them with the shrimp and the other ingredients. Adjust the seasoning.

Fill the eggs with the mix and garnish each one with additional shrimp and garlic chives.

Asian deviled eggs

EurAsian Deviled Eggs

Delightful as the mellow seasonings meld together while the colors are springlike.

  • 8 hard-boiled eggs , peeled
  • 1 teaspoon toasted Asian sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped cucumber, plus extra for garnish
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped avocado
  • 1 scallion, finely sliced
  • Salt, if desired
  • curry powder to sprinkle over the top

Boil eggs in water for 10 minutes. Drain water and let eggs cool.

In a small bowl, mix the sesame oil, soy sauce and lemon juice together.

Peel the shell from the eggs after they have cooled. Cut eggs in half, lengthwise. Scoop out the yolks, place in a medium bowl  and mash. Add the cucumber, avocado and scallion; pour in the oil mixture and toss lightly. Add salt if desired.

Place mixture by teaspoonfuls inside each egg well and garnish with extra cucumber.

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images of Annapolis Green House

door of 92 marylandWhen we moved into 92 Maryland Avenue, which Lynne quickly named the Annapolis Green House, five years ago, the garden was overgrown and planted with old, withering non-native shrubs that were shaded by three beautiful and huge elm trees on the property of the next-door neighbor and the State House. Sadly, these magnificent trees fell to Dutch Elm Disease changing the property to a full-sun garden almost overnight.

With the help of Homestead Gardens and funded by several grants, we removed the shrubs and installed a conservation garden of pollinator friendly native plants whose flowers are spectacular in spring and summer and provide food to beneficial insects and shelter to songbirds.

Tboat planterhe rain barrel we installed next to the porch, donated by Lynn Gardner of Rain Barrels of Annapolis, harvests rainwater we use to water the plants and fill the birdbaths and to reduce stormwater runoff – an environmental benefit. The birdbaths, donated by local artisan Donna Brookes, are made from repurposed materials thus keeping those out of the landfill. Garden design work was donated by professional landscape architect Deb Schwab and involved volunteer work by members of the Anne Arundel County Watershed Stewards Academy and others over the years. The wonderful young Carew family even donated the Opti that we installed as a unique maritime planter!

In order to add some shade to the garden, we installed a Forest Pansy Redbud tree whose flowers are spectacular in early spring and provides a focal point. For spring color, we have planted hundreds of tulip and daffodil bulbs that have already begun to pop.
The garden is especially enjoyable from the side porch, providing a respite after the day’s work.

gardener holding eggplant harvest

vegetable harvestAfter adding vegetables to the landscape for two years, we started the Here We Grow program last year to educate and encourage local gardeners by showcasing the benefits of gardening during the pandemic: connection to nature, Climate Change mitigation and growing food in with the flowers. “Pretty and Delicious” is what we call it.
As a result of this “foodscaping” program, over the last two summers we grew sufficient vegetables to give away to our neighbors and even provided vegetables and herbs to the local restaurants. So many tomatoes and eggplants! This year we plan to give as much as possible to Feed Anne Arundel and the Maryland Food Bank.
The garden is truly a demonstration of how small-scale urban farming without pesticides and synthetic fertilizer is not only incredibly productive but also beautiful. And it’s easy to do in your own yard! More information about Here We Grow.

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bowl of soup

In the winter months after the flurry of holidays, the timing is perfect to delve into foods in a bowl, or yes… comforting bowl food with a sense of Hygge. That strange Danish word, Hygge, represents an ambiance or mood of coziness with feelings of wellness and contentment. Food plays an important part in the feeling of cozy comfort.

Winter Squash Coconut Curry Soup
Serves 4

soup bowlOne small warning is that the green curry paste can be very spicy so you may want to start with 1/2 teaspoon and add more heat from there. Sometimes it’s the topping that makes the soup sing. These roasted apple rounds are also a fabulous snack along with the pumpkin seeds.

  • 1 cup diced sweet onion (like Vidalia)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds winter squash (like butternut or acorn), peeled and chopped
  • 2 apples, peeled and chopped
  • 1 teaspoon Thai green curry paste
  • 3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 14-ounce can coconut milk (not sweetened)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Roasted and salted pumpkin seeds

In a large heavy-bottomed pot set over medium heat, sauté the onions in olive until translucent, about 10 minutes.

Add squash and apples and continue cooking until soft and slightly browned, about 10-15 minutes (getting a little caramelization on the vegetables, which will give the soup a greater depth of flavor). Stir in the curry paste, continuing to cook until vegetables are coated, about one minute longer.

Increase the heat to high, and add the stock and coconut milk. Once the mixture comes to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes or until vegetables are very soft.

Using an immersion blender, puree the soup until very smooth.

Adjust seasoning as desired with salt and pepper, then ladle into bowls and serve piping hot topped with a mound of pumpkin seeds.

 

Roasted Broccoli, Garlic and Cheddar Soup
Serves 6

Rbowl of soupoasting transforms the broccoli by caramelizing it and adding a touch of sweetness, and even the garlic mellows after some time in the oven.

  • 3/4 pound broccoli, washed and ends timed, tender stalk peeled, diced, cut into florets
  • 5-6 garlic cloves, peels left on
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried mustard
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded plus extra for garnish
  • Additional salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.

Add the broccoli florets and the garlic to a baking pan and drizzle with the olive oil. Toss and season with the salt and pepper. Place in the oven to roast. The garlic will finish before the broccoli, so check on it at about 15 minutes into cooking. Remove the garlic when the peels pull away and they are golden in color. Continue to roast the broccoli for about 25-30 minutes total, tossing once or twice as they cook. When finished, the florets will be dark in color where they have come in contact with the pan.

Bring the vegetable broth and water to a boil in a Dutch oven or stockpot. Add the broccoli and garlic, reduce the heat to simmer and cook for 8-10 minutes with the lid partially on.

In a small bowl, whisk together the milk, flour and dried mustard until smooth. Whisk the mixture into the liquid mixture until well combined. Cook on low until slightly thickened. Remove the pot from the heat.

Use an immersion blender to puree the broccoli and garlic in the soup, leaving it quite chunky. You can also use a blender to puree the soup, but wait until it has cooled and work in batches before returning the soup to the pot to warm it.

After pureeing the soup, add the cheese and stir until it has melted.

Serve the soup immediately, with extra cheese as garnish.

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HD Squared Architects
Founding One Hundred Spotlight

founding one hundredThis award-winning architecture, interiors, and consulting firm is Annapolis Green’s neighbor in on Maryland Avenue. It was founded in 2004 by Melanie Hartwig-Davis. Among Melanie’s accreditations is her LEED Accredited Professional Sustainable Design Practices credentials. She and her team incorporate LEED principles (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) into all aspects of their practice to increase the resiliency of the communities they serve.

HD Squared’s portfolio includes custom residential designs, critical area/waterfront projects and remodeling. The firm also works on historic preservation and adaptive reuse for all sorts of commercial projects including restaurants. The practice also specializes in interiors, site design, and master planning.

Her team includes John Richards, Senior Designer and Construction Administrator, and Kate Dawson, Operations Manager and Interior Designer.

Among other accolades, HD Squared was honored with the AIA Chesapeake Bay Excellence in Design Sustainability Award in 2019.

A true environmentalist, Melanie works collaboratively with her clients on how to minimize the impact of their design choices’ impact the natural environment. Her personal goal is for the projects to actually improve conditions for our ecosystems. She is a passionate advocate for resilient, sustainable design. As the company grows and technology advances, HD Squared is performing carbon calculations to minimize the projects’ carbon footprint.

“This is how we build resiliency for generations to come,” she said. “Resilient design includes interiors, buildings, landscapes, and communities that together provide an opportunity for the occupants and ecosystems to thrive and adapt in times of challenging circumstances.”

Melanie has been called an “Architect Activist.” A recent project exemplifies that passion for our planet. On the eve of her 50th birthday, she took to Facebook to help raise $50,000 in 50 days, with the Scenic Rivers Land Trust to save 45 acres of the Glebe Heights Forest on the Mayo Peninsula from development.

“Forests are imperative to maintaining resilient, sustainable, and healthy lives, as they clean our air and water,” she said. “They are our best defense against climate change and flooding.”

You can donate to this cause by clicking here. Every amount is appreciated. Note: You must indicate ‘Glebe Heights Forest Conservation Project’ in the comments section of the donation form so that the funds are allocated correctly.

Happy Birthday, Melanie! Thanks for all you do.

RASA Juice Shop
Founding One Hundred Spotlight

founding one hundred

As next door neighbors, RASA Juice Shop and Annapolis Green have been joining forces to keep our community (and especially Maryland Avenue) Clean, Green and Healthy.

RASA is a big supporter and believer in Annapolis Green’s initiatives and has been a partner in promotion – helping sell the yoga blocks that are made from the corks Annapolis Green collects and recycles, as well as its latest Pumpkin Spice Compost and holiday gift bags.

RASA not only serves up organic delicious nutritionally-designed juices, smoothies and food but also provides events to foster community and connection among our food, ourselves and others. RASA loves teaming up with friends, including Annapolis Green, and looks forward to more fun with providing sustainable lifestyle opportunities for the community.

Owner Lisa Cosiglio Ryan also runs Whole Health Designs, a health consulting business that compliments the goals of her RASA Juice Shop. Lisa is a mom, yoga lover, and green juice drinker and Integrative Nutrition Health Coach who loves to help women transition to the “clean life.”

Here’s how Lisa describes the Clean Life: “In a nutshell… you strive to eat anti-inflammatory whole foods (a lot of plants and greens, gluten-free grains, and organic produce), you use natural ingredients when cooking, and you are eco-conscious. You tend to follow the 80/20 guideline: 80% of the time you eat clean, move your body, practice gratitude; you do what makes you feel amazing. The other 20%, you drink wine with your girlfriends, eat pizza at the birthday party, skip a workout… all without guilt. You listen to your body and really tap into the body, mind, and spirit connection.”

In her early life, Lisa didn’t think much about what she ate. She hardly ever cooked and even stored sweaters in my oven for a while. And she was sick, saying her health was a mess. She had had fibromyalgia, hypothyroidism, Candida, rosacea (when your face gets really puffy and red with lots of breakouts), cystitis, and tons of allergies. And all this at only 30 years old. She had developed an unhealthy relationship with food and her body. Diets didn’t work and this made her anxious and depressed. But… she had learned a lot about food.

Then she studied and received certification as an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach that allowed her to combine her passions: nutrition and education. She learned how to cook real, whole food, establish family dinners, and resolve any dysfunctional relationship with food once and for all. Today, she has none of the health issues listed above. Read more about Lisa’s journey. And lucky for Annapolis Green, her dream led to “the store next door.”

Lisa can help you reach your health goals without the deprivation, quick fixes or exercising two hours a day. She can help intuitively tap into your body’s wisdom and develop a way of life that allows you to feel liberated and free.

RASA has some lovely Valentine’s Day gift ideas: “We Love Love!” Check out bouquets, vegan and gluten-free treats, truffles, and more. Everything is made locally, by women-owned businesses. Learn more.

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paradise float spa
Founding One Hundred Spotlight

founding one hundred

Paradise Float Spa opened its doors in December 2016 and has been providing relaxation and serenity to Annapolis ever since. And don’t we need some of that now.

Providing the highest level of customer service and a soothing atmosphere, Paradise Float Spa is making the world a better place, one float at a time.

Owner Denise Pearson started the business after a cross-country trip that left her stressed. When she started to book a massage from her hotel, she saw a listing for a mind and body float studio and took the plunge, so to speak.

After an hour in that tank, she emerged stress-free! Immediately she decided that she must do this again. After just a few more floats, and probably some involvement from the universe, she decided that she wanted to bring floating to others so she could see the ‘post-float glow’ in her own clients’ faces. And that’s how Paradise Float Spa began.

Denise is passionate about exceeding expectations in her three large, luxurious, lighted Ocean Float Rooms – no scary pods! The goal is to provide a superior customer experience before, during and after your float. Denise affirms that there are many benefits that can be derived from floating. Learn more in this short video.

Paradise Float Spa takes your health and safety extremely seriously, especially in light of COVID-19. More than 15 practices are in place to keep clients safe. Read more.

Valentine’s Day: Time for Self-Love

Denise has written a thoughtful blog about how it’s important to take care of yourself, and how floating can, without the distraction of external stimulation, help you practice mindfulness to bring you closer to yourself to better care for others. It’s sort of like putting your mask on first in a plane.

As Denise says: “So this Valentine’s Day, do yourself – and your loved ones – a favor. Treat yourself, not just to a pleasant and relaxing experience, but form that meaningful connection with who you are deep down. Go for a float, become one with the Nothingness you’re surrounded in, and come out ready to give everything you’ve got to those who need it. With the way this past year has been, it’s more important than ever to look out for each other, and that starts by looking out for yourself.”

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Waste Management Sustainability Forum

waste management logoYou may know that we have a great relationship with the Waste Management (WM) company – the firm that runs the recycling facility that services Anne Arundel County and Annapolis.

Most notably, we worked with WM during our Greening of the Brick Companies’ (a Founding One Hundred supporter) TBC Classic Golf Tournament over the years and were invited to WM’s Sustainability Forum held during the WM Phoenix Open a few years ago in Scottsdale, Arizona. Oh, and did we mention for those of you who are not in golf circles, for the last eight years the WMPO has been recognized as the largest zero waste sporting event in the world! To say we are life-long fans of both is an understatement.

This year the forum was virtual only and as always, was inspiring. It is heartening to see that many big, global companies are embracing all the issues having to do with Climate Change – each in its own way. From inspiring youth with WM’s new Change Makers series and a new fashion design challenge for a circular economy, the breakthroughs are huge and impactful.

The forum was titled Breakthrough and posed the question: “What Will You Do to Break Through?” If we are permitted to share these inspiring presentations we will. Stay tuned.

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vegetarian chili

Many of us love soup year round and winter is the prime time. Super Bowl is even a more prime time as you can have the meal in a bowl and offer lots of goodies for topping! Folks love adding their own goodies.

black bean soupFrancine’s Favorite Black Bean Soup with Toppings
Serves 4 to 6

A very good friend and savvy cook with a beautiful veggie garden says: “I only use organic vegetables if I can’t use the ones I grow.”

Note: An immersion blender is used once the soup cooks down so vegetable pieces dont have to be precise plus no need to clean a big blender.

  • 3 tablespoons organic olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 medium yellow onions sliced roughly
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 sticks organic celery, diced
  • 2 organic carrots cut into one-inch chunks.
  • 1 (14-ounce) can fire roasted organic tomatoes
  • 2 (16-ounce) cans organic black beans
  • A little red wine if you like (the alcohol cooks off but wine warms the taste)
  • Kosher salt to taste and freshly ground black pepper
  • Cayenne, dash
  • 1 teaspoon oregano leaf
  • Dry cilantro 1/2 teaspoon or to taste

Toppings to offer when serving:

  • 1/2 bunch fresh cilantro chopped
  • Limes and lemons wedges
  • Spring onions, chopped
  • Grated cheddar cheese
  • Sour cream
  • Good quality salsa

Heat olive oil to medium heat. Sprinkle cumin into it and heat until the aroma comes up, about one minute. Add onions and sauté about two or three minutes. Add garlic and sauté about two minutes. Add celery and sauté about two minutes. Add carrots, tomatoes, black beans, and stir all together. Add vegetable stock and remaining spices and allow to simmer, but not boil, for an hour, stirring occasionally. Do not let it stick. Add wine if desired.

Take off the heat and let soup rest for about 15 minutes and then put an immersion blender into the pot directly and blend to desired consistency, moving blender around carefully. Add salt, pepper and cilantro and put back on heat. Continue to simmer about 45 minutes. You may add a little water if you think it gets too thick and add some fresh lemon juice. Stir. Preferably, put in refrigerator when cool to flavor overnight.

Serve with a splash of lime in each bowl and place a lime slice in center of bowl. Let people select their options for toppings. Yummy with corn bread or hearty rough type of bread.

Vegetarian Chili with Sweet Potatoes
Serves 6

As an extraordinary vegetarian chili containing sweet potatoes, black and pinto beans, peppers and cocoa powder, this is a delicious, hearty and healthy vegan meal. You won’t miss the meat.

  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1⁄2-inch pieces
  • 4 garlic cloves, pressed or minced, or 1 heaping tablespoon of minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (more or less, depending on how spicy you like your chili)
  • 2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Ground sea salt and black pepper
  • about 28-ounces canned diced tomatoes, including the liquid
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • about 2 cups OR one 14 oz. can vegetable broth

Garnishes: sour cream, sliced scallions, sliced radishes (optional)

In a 4- to 6-quart Dutch oven or stockpot, sauté the chopped vegetables (onion, peppers and sweet potatoes) in one to two tablespoon of olive oil on medium-high heat. You’ll need to stir the ingredients every few minutes so they can cook evenly.

Once the onions start turning translucent, turn the heat down to medium-low. Add the garlic and spices (chili powder, cumin, cayenne, cocoa powder, cinnamon, and a dash of salt and pepper) and canned ingredients (tomatoes, beans and broth), and stir. Cover and cook for 45 minutes up to two hours, stirring occasionally.

By the time your chili is done, the sweet potatoes should be nice and soft and the liquid should have reduced a bit. Season chili with salt and pepper to taste. Divide the chili into individual bowls, garnish as desired and serve.

With over three decades in the food, media production, marketing & public relations fields, Rita Calvert has created myriad programs, events, cooking sessions on national television, the stage & The Annapolis School of Cooking. She has partnered in writing cookbooks and product lines to showcase the inspiration & nourishment of food. In her cookbook with Michael Heller, The Grassfed Gourmet Fires It Up, Rita supports the effort for Regenerative Agriculture.

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turtle swimming with plastic bag

Plastic Bag Reduction Act – In support

jared littmannby Jared Littmann

HB 314 (Plastic Bag Reduction Act) is the proposed Maryland legislation that would ban, after 18 months, single use carryout plastic bags. I support this legislation for the following reasons:

  1. The plastic bag ban is the right thing for the environment as we need to reduce our dependency on fossil fuels.
  2. It is the right thing for the economy as Climate Change is causing unprecedented damage with business interruptions or even destroying homes and businesses. Plus, this would reduce the money local governments are currently spending on managing plastic bags that gum up the refuse waste stream.
  3. It is the right thing to do for the community as businesses set the example for our communities.
  4. It is also the right thing to do for good governance. A state solution is preferred to differing city and county legislation.
  5. However, there are implementation issues to consider that I’ll get to below.

Reducing plastic use is imperative. Climate Change is real, and it is happening. One way we can address this on a local level is by purposefully reducing our use of plastics, especially single use. However, purchases from online shippers involves far more packaging than disposable shopping bags at retailers. I applaud Delegate Lierman, Annapolis Green, and Oceana for also working on that issue.

Good governance is important here. Right now, various Maryland counties have addressed this issue differently and various local jurisdictions have done or have tried to the same. For businesses, uniformity is helpful. I don’t like mandatory bag fees, which, fortunately, this bill does not include. I’m also pleased to see that the Bill leaves it to the individual business to decide whether and how much to charge for bags and experiment with customer behavior.

Helpfully, the proposed legislation provides two three-month waivers for a retailer to temporarily switch back to disposable plastic bags. This is important if the unavailability of paper bags makes using them impossible or prohibitively expensive. The wording of the waiver concerns me because getting a waiver before switching back to plastic may not be practical. Further, the waiver is only applicable if the issue is unique to the business. However, some issues – like paper bag unavailability – could be common to many retailers. There has been a shortage of raw product in paper bag industry. The industry is significantly impacted by plastic reduction legislation around the country. Every mill is at full capacity. Suppliers are working aggressively to mitigate risks to supply chains but are going to hit some bumps. The two temporary waivers in the bill may not be sufficient if paper bag supplies run out.

A state-wide plastic carryout bag ban is a great next step in the fight against Climate Change and protecting the Maryland economy, but consideration needs to be given to reducing plastic in other forms and reducing reliance on paper bags as well.

I’m grateful to Delegate Lierman, Senator Augustine, Speaker Jones, and President Ferguson for working to pass this bill. I hope everyone will call Senate President Ferguson and their state representatives to encourage them to pass this bill. Retail businesses like mine want to reduce plastic pollution, but we need your help. We need the statewide standard this bill provides. Thank you!

Editor’s note: Jared Littmann is a former Annapolis Alderman from Ward 5. He owns K&B True Value, which carries hundreds of eco-friendly products. He brings his perspective to this issue, not only as a successful businessman and former alderman, but also as an attorney who was trained in environmental law. Mr. Littmann is a Founding One Hundred supporter of Annapolis Green.

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annapolis green reads

A thought-provoking read: Half-Earth

The Green Reads book group discussed E.O. Wilson’s Half-Earth: Our Planet’s Fight for Life. What a thought-provoking read from a highly respected biologist and renowned naturalist.

half earthHe methodically laid out facts and observations in a way that reminded me of a spider weaving a web. Next thing I knew I was the meal at the center being devoured by the truth of our human limitations and the Earth’s need for more natural space. This wasn’t even new information to me so I’ve yet to discern why I felt so ensnared. If you are looking for a scientifically sound and comprehensive read on the condition of the natural world, this could be a great read.

His proposition is that we need to set aside half of the Earth in order to save the natural world. One member of our group thought of it as the adult version of Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax. The time we are living in has been termed the Anthropocene age and we discussed the appropriateness of the description. Is the goal of setting aside half of the Earth a good idea and a realistic one? We discussed that as well. Human fallibility was thoroughly acknowledged in this book. We need to resolve to do no harm to the flora and fauna around us which for us humans means leaving it alone!

In order to set aside half of the Earth, a global effort is required. There are plenty of global issues that are mentioned in the book and that we discussed, including population control and education. We also worry about how many people are separated from nature in their daily lives and how that can limit effective stewardship.

Our next book is going to be on environmental justice. If we are to reach people where they are and build a community doing our best to confront Climate Change, we need to have an appreciation of where they are! Perhaps Black Faces, White Spaces: Reimagining the Relationship of African Americans to the Great Outdoors by Carolyn Finney will give us some insights and actionable steps in expanding our perspective and our reach.

I just finished an excellent novel, The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett, and one point that came up was the white privilege of just assuming that you can join and belong in a social group of interest and that systemic racism in our country has prevented others from feeling that way. If you are a person of color (or not female or under 50 years of age), we really need you to help make this a more diverse group. Please contact me if you are interested in joining in the discussion.

–Karen Grumbles

about the Annapolis Green Reads book club

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boats covered in shrinkwrap

Think Before You Shrink

Are you doing your part to keep plastic out of the landfills?

Join the more than 30 Maryland marinas recycling their shrinkwrap

a message from
Marine Trades Association of Maryland logo

We understand that your busiest time of year is when the wrap comes off. We know it can be a real pain to deal with piles and piles of plastic wrap. We also know that our industry is contributing way too much plastic to the landfills instead of recycling. WE ALL NEED TO GET ONBOARD WITH RECYCLING!

Some boaters are already paying to have the wrap hauled away; we have yet to find haulers who are recycling the material and, therefore, it is ending up in the landfill.

Taking advantage of our recycling option guarantees that the wrap is recycled while YOU do your part!

List of marinas in Anne Arundel County participating in the shrinkwrap program

Here’s how it WORKS:

  • MTAM will sell and distribute bags that hold up to 40 lbs. of clean shrinkwrap to participating marinas and boatyards. (MTAM will not be set up to sell to individual boaters this year.)
  • Cost of each bag is $15.This includes the pickup/transportation and recycling of the filled bags. We prefer orders in multiples of 30 as the bags are packaged in multiples of 30 and it allows us to maximize our trips to pick-up wrap. We will make every effort to make smaller orders work in conjunction with other marinas in your area.
  • Critical to the successful recycling of boat shrinkwrap is keeping it pure and clean. All straps, zippers, doors and vents must be removed for the wrap to be accepted by recyclers.
  • MTAM will schedule and notify you of your pick-up date by April 1 so you can plan for removal.
  • Only bagged wrap will be accepted.
  • NEW THIS YEAR: optional signage for your marina explaining the process.
  • In a test run, we fit wrap from a 35-foot boat into one of the bags. By further condensing the wrap, you may be able to get more into a single bag, but we ask that you not exceed 40 lbs. per bag. (See our video here for how to remove: MTAM Shrink Wrap Recycling – YouTube)
  • Questions and orders for bags should be directed to Susan@mtam.org. Bags will be delivered to you by March 15.
  • THINK BEFORE YOU SHRINK can also mean encouraging marina customers to purchase canvas covers that are reusable. This option, in the end, saves money.

boat with a canvas cover

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annapolis green reads

Thoughts on The Omnivore’s Dilemma

Do you ever find yourself envying the koala for its singular diet of eucalyptus or the monarch caterpillar for its love of milkweed? At the extreme end, maybe you envy the flora that, with photosynthesis and good soil, just needs to reach to the sun to grow and flourish. To be human takes those food sources ‘off the table’ but we have so many other options!

the omnivore's dilemma

Our book group met and shared a meal recently (via Zoom) and discussed The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan. We were all impressed with the book that had been written back in 2006 and includes an afterword added ten years later. We actually made progress toward healthier food choices in that decade! We’d heard years ago that the book contained the message, “Eat food (not nutrients), not too much, mostly vegetables,” so figured that we’d gotten the gist without spending time reading the book. It turns out that this book is so much more; the most important message is about the choices we make and the consequences of those choices as it relates to food. The omnivore’s dilemma is wondering what to eat when we’re hungry. As omnivores we have many choices. Do we swing by McDonalds or get food from Safeway? Or Whole Foods? Do we incorporate weekend visits to the farmer’s market into our routine? Do we grow and harvest our own carrots and peppers? Do we want to eat meat or seafood? We ask ourselves these kinds of questions at least three times a day every day.

Most of us are not growing our own food. Pollan explores the question “Where does our food come from?” and the answers are truly eye opening. Pollan writes with narratives that make for easy reading of a non-fiction book. We really appreciate the insights he provides about industrial agriculture, the organic and sustainable food business models, and the need for greater transparency of where our food comes from. Why is the public not allowed onto killing floors of CAFOs? What does it mean to treat animals humanely before they are slaughtered? Why is it acceptable that cows are fed an unnatural diet of corn? How is it that you likely consume more corn than any other food even without eating an ear of corn?

With great satisfaction in being responsible for his own food and being able to trace its origins, Pollan also shares his experience with foraging and hunting for a meal. Some in our group found that part inspiring to read about while others developed a greater appreciation for farmers markets and grocers!

We felt like this book was impactful as well. One group member shared that this book is taught in high schools to help kids learn about the consequences of the choices they make. Because of this book, I paid attention to news that came out recently about the Farm Bill to be renewed in 2023. Is there a role I/we can play in ensuring that our health and the health of the environment is adequately addressed?

In some good news, an article in the Washington Post reports that consumer trends are already starting to move the food industry toward increased transparency, healthier choices, and environmental stewardship.

Our next book will be Half-Earth: Our Planet’s Fight for Life by Edward O. Wilson. We will discuss it on Tuesday, January 26 at 7 pm via Zoom. If you would like to join our discussion, please contact me.

–Karen Grumbles

about the Annapolis Green Reads book club

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cardinal on an evergreen

Rather than put your natural Christmas tree on the curb for collection, put it in your garden as a bit of habitat for birds to help them survive the winter.

Our little feathered buddies take protection from cold and wind in evergreens. Your holiday tree, wreaths and garlands can provide that protection too. Just take the decorations and lights off and place the greenery (even if it has turned brown already) in your yard until spring. You can set the tree on its side and just pile up the other greenery anywhere in the yard.

christmas tree in bin and in garden

Here is an article from the Cornell Lab’s All About Birds with more detail.

If you would like to dispose of your trees now instead:

And, if you have unwanted or broken lights, Annapolis Green will accept them for recycling until January 15. Just drop them off in the marked bin on our porch at 92 Maryland Avenue.

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pumpkins & bins at Truxtun Park

We gave your Halloween jack-o-lanterns and pumpkins a dignified demise, back to the Earth.
We’re turning them into Pumpkin Spice Compost that you can order now for delivery in a couple of months!

NBC4 Washington featured our pumpkin collection
during Meteorologist Amelia Draper’s climate segment on food waste.

sad jack-o-lantern

Five tons of pumpkins are now “cooking” on the Veteran Compost farm in northern Maryland, being turned into a compost “secret sauce” for local gardens. The haul is the result of local nonprofit Annapolis Green’s Great Pumpkin Dropoff, a partnership with the City of Annapolis to collect pumpkins and jack-o-lanterns in November to gauge community interest in composting.

Residents brought 6000 pounds of pumpkins to Truxtun Park after Halloween and another 4000 pounds after Thanksgiving. Annapolis Green pulled out and donated small pie pumpkins to the Anne Arundel Food Bank.

Annapolis Green is taking orders now for the “Pumpkin Spice Compost” as a unique holiday gift and fundraiser.

“This response tells us two things,” said Elvia Thompson, President & Co-founder of Annapolis Green. “First, considering that these numbers reflect only Halloween and Thanksgiving, just imagine how many tons of food waste is dumped into the landfill every week. And second, this makes clear that our community wants to compost its food waste.”

On the farm, the pumpkins are mixed with wood chips and other food waste in big piles that are turned regularly. Heat from the decomposition process breaks down the nutrients and the seeds. In about two months, the result is a fluffy, sweet-smelling soil amendment that is great for any garden. It is Nature’s fertilizer.

pumpkin spice compostAnnapolis Green’s garden at Maryland Avenue and State Circle has served as a demonstration of how productive a garden can be with addition of compost. For the past four years Annapolis Green has sold the “Christmas Crab Compost” – the result of waste from the Annapolis Rotary Crab Feast as a fun holiday gift. No crab feast food waste was available this year so Annapolis Green is offering “Pumpkin Spice Compost” instead. Since the compost won’t be ready for about two months, the holiday gift, available on the Annapolis Green website, takes the form of a festive certificate, a stocking stuffer, redeemable when the compost is ready.

The response was incredible! We had funny and gnarly jack-0-lanterns, rotten pumpkins, and whole pumpkins of all sizes. Wow, 10,000 pounds… five tons of fruit (yes it is a fruit, not a vegetable)!

wagon full of collected pumpkins
Mike and Kim Lungociu of Black Walnut Cove collected pumpkins from their neighbors and brought them all to the Great Pumpkin Dropoff.

We collected them in ten 64-gallon totes, 11 32-gallon totes and many more that did not fit in the containers (sadly, we had to put those in plastic bags to keep the wildlife from getting into them and making a mess in the park) after Halloween and in 20 64-gallon totes after Thanksgiving. They came from all over the area. Some people even collected them for their entire neighborhood and brought them to us.

The City is charged $53.53/ton for waste removal to the landfill. So, while the seven days of composting only saved the City $267.65 in terms of dollars, the project demonstrated that if the City had year-round composting of all types of compostable materials the savings would be significant AND the environmental benefits would too.

We brought this project to the City of Annapolis and thank Mayor Gavin Buckley, City Manager David Jarrell, Deputy City Manager for Resilience and Sustainability Jacqueline Guild, and Director of the Department of Recreation and Parks Archie J. Trader III for their support of this initiative.

 

little boy & mom with pumpkins  little girl & pumpkin  jack-o-lanterns in bin

Next spring those nutritious pumpkins will have been turned into fantastic compost for your spring garden… Pumpkin Spice Compost!

pumpkin spice everything flyerYou can pre-order Pumpkin Spice Compost  just in time for holiday gifting for the gardener in your life, and a “Pumpkin Spice Everything” bundle. Read more.

The Great Pumpkin Dropoff is part of nonprofit Annapolis Green’s Here We Grow program to encourage home gardeners to grow food with flowers with the natural soil amendment of compost rather than synthetic fertilizers and without pesticides.

The pumpkins will be turned into compost by Veteran Compost, Maryland’s only licensed compost farm and a Founding One Hundred supporter of Annapolis Green. Residents will be able to pre-order the compost as a holiday gift from Annapolis Green along with related gardening products.

Anne Arundel County is also composting pumpkins and jack-o-lanterns. Check out its Recycling and Waste Reduction Division Facebook page for details and other good recycling info.

Anne Arundel Food Bank Volunteer Coordinator Angel Woodall accepts pie pumpkins for the Anne Arundel Food Bank
Anne Arundel Food Bank Volunteer Coordinator Angel Woodall accepts pie pumpkins

anne arundel food bankA Final Note About Food & Food Composting

In case you are thinking about whether we are wasting food, we had that on our minds too. However, it turns out that the Howden pumpkin, and other varieties grown primarily for decorative purposes, just aren’t that good for eating. Have a look at this story from NPR and this story from HuffPost. Composting, rather than trashing, them is the best way to dispose of the majority of the pumpkins we received. They will go back to the Earth and help make new pumpkins that may be planted next year.

However, the Anne Arundel Food Bank accepted the small “pie pumpkins” from our collection! 

 

 

 

Check out our Great Pumpkin Dropoff poem by Lynne Forsman,
who had the original idea for this initiative.

Call me pumpkin or jack-o-lantern,
And whichever the case,
After I’ve been carved and illuminated,
It’s a proper end I hope to face.

At this time of year,
I make harvest hearts sing.
Pumpkin -orange everywhere,
And Pumpkin spice EVERYTHING!

Yet after my Halloween fun,
Give me a dignified demise
If you don’t bake me and eat me,
Respectfully dispose of me, whatever the size.

Thanks to my friends at Annapolis Green,
I’m hoping for the most…
To comeback and nourish your garden,
As Pumpkin Spice Compost!

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annapolis green reads

by Karen Grumbles

I am looking out the window into my backyard at the marcescent light brown beech leaves all uniformly fluttering in the rain. The view comforts and entrances me. ‘Marcescence’ became one of my favorite words in the last few years when we planted a young beech sapling in our yard and I wondered why its leaves clung onto the branches in the autumn when all the other trees rather dutifully shed their leaves. Marcescence is seen on young beech trees (also on some oaks) and is believed to be the action of the leaves to hide and protect the new buds. The trees seem to be saying, “hold on there.” The leaves do it every year, have for millenia, and now we can do it too. What an appropriate message for these challenging, turbulent times.

the overstory bookcover

My beech trees’ message reminds me of some messages that Richard Powers’ The Overstory conveys. The Overstory is a rambling epic of interconnected fables and narratives with the main protagonists being the forests themselves. This is a somewhat unique novel as a man vs. nature story and won the Pulitzer Prize for Powers’ excellent grasp of the natural world that becomes a call to action on behalf of trees. The trees are communicating among themselves and, in a way, with us. The multiple characters in the book each have a unique relationship to a tree. If you are looking for a novel to compel a greater awareness of the nature around us and the importance of forest conservation and biodiversity, our book group agreed that this was a great one to read. We think that there should be many more stories written to engage the layperson on environmental issues. Maybe some should be a wee bit shorter in length though!

As Richard Powers writes: “The best arguments in the world won’t change a person’s mind. The only thing that can do that is a good story.” We recommend this one.

If you’d like to order the book, support Old Fox Books by ordering from this locally owned, independent bookstore. 

Our book group is discovering that we are developing a sense of continuity with our book selections. Although we choose a variety of environmental issues to read about, there is an emerging stream flowing. If you would like to join in our trip down this waterway, let me know with an email.

Our next book is The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan. We are each going to prepare the same meal (recipe provided) and enjoy a virtual dinner together at the end of the month while we discuss the book.

“Hold on there” and stay well!

man in forest of big trees

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AMM School in Nature instructor & kids

annapolis maritime museumAnnapolis Maritime Museum (AMM) is running a full-time School in Nature program at its Park Campus located at Ellen O. Moyer Nature Park. This program is designed to serve as support for students as they work through their virtual learning curriculum and is supplemented with AMM-led enrichment activities that focus on environmental stewardship and maritime education, including lots of nature play, art, and science!  Students love exploring our 12-acre Park before, after, and during breaks from school.

While attending School in Nature, students are able to safely interact with peers in small groups, enjoy time in nature, and get support from experienced educators. Research has shown that exposure to nature and outdoor play can improve academic performance, foster a love of learning, promote health, and create lifelong environmental stewards.

AMM’s School in Nature is available to K-5th grade students Monday through Friday, 8am to 5pm.  Registration is open for daily, weekly, or multi-week enrollment.

photos by David Harp

AMM School in Nature kidsClass sizes are limited to groups of 15, including students and teachers. While working indoors, appropriate COVID-19 protocols are observed including physical distancing, wearing masks, hand washing, and more. Students are encouraged to learn outdoors as weather conditions permit and enjoy exploring the Park during breaks. Enrichment activities take place outdoors, in the woods and along the shores of Back Creek.

For more information, click here.

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Apples, Apples and Applesauce

crates of applesRight about now you are spying apples everywhere and nothing could be cozier for kids and adults alike than some simple homemade applesauce.

But don’t stop there! Apples work in so many ways… adding nutritious sweetness to baked goods, roasted as a versatile side dish, or enlivening a roasted vegetable combo.

Crockpot Applesauce

Makes 3 cups; from Skinny Taste

Nothing beats homemade applesauce, making it in the crock pot is easy and your house will smell divine while the apples and cinnamon simmer all day long. The hardest part about making this sauce is peeling the apples (which is not hard at all!).

  •             8 medium apples, combination of Golden Delicious, Honey Crisp, Fuji, Gala, etc.
  •             1 strip lemon peel – use a vegetable peeler
  •             1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  •             3-inch cinnamon stick
  •             5 teaspoons light brown sugar, unpacked (you can leave out for sugar-free)

Peel, core, and slice the apples. Place them in the slow cooker.

Add the cinnamon stick, lemon peel, lemon juice and brown sugar. Set crock pot to low and cook for 6 hours.

Stir apples occasionally, apples will slowly become a delicious applesauce.

Remove cinnamon stick and use an immersion blender to blend until smooth or if you prefer a chunky sauce, leave sauce intact.

Double Ginger Baked Apple Slices

Serves 2

apple slices in dishThis marvelous dish can be served as a side dish for poultry or meat or a flavorful dessert… especially decadent with the addition of ice cream.

  • 2 large apples of your choice, peel if they are not organic, but if they are, keep the skin on as it is full of nutrients
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoons sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon candied ginger, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 350F.

Wash the apples and slice into thin wedges. Place the wedges in a baking tray, sprinkle ground ginger, lemon juice, and salt on the top and gently mix the ginger in. Dollop butter on top of the apples.

Bake for about 20 minutes. Check the apples after 10 minutes, mix them around with a spatula, add candied ginger and place them back in the oven.

Take them out of the oven once they soften up and start to brown .

Serve warm or cool. You can serve as a side dish, a topping for oatmeal, pancakes or dessert with whipped cream, plain yogurt, vanilla ice cream or just serve plain.

Roasted Sweet Potato, Apples and Brussels Sprout

Serves 4

apples and vegetables in a dishIn this recipe you want to prepare the vegetables and apples so they can bake for relatively the same amount of time. If you are thinking of serving for a special meal like Thanksgiving when the oven is loaded, the dish is good even at room temperature.

  • 2 sweet potatoes, peeled cubed in 1” pieces, lightly steamed but still firm
  • 2 apples, skin on, cored and cut into half-moon slices
  • 8 oz Brussels sprouts, cleaned, halved & lightly steamed
  • 1 medium sweet onion, cut into 1/2-inch wide wedges
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 tablespoon pure maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • freshly cracked black pepper

Preheat oven to 425F.

In a medium bowl, toss sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts with 2 tablespoons oil and sprinkle with salt.

Bake on a lined cookie sheet for 20 minutes, stirring halfway through.

In a separate bowl, add apples, remainings 1 tablespoon oil, and maple syrup, stirring to combine.

After baking the sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts for 20 minutes, add apple mixture to tray. Bake for an additional 15-20 minutes until golden and tender, stirring halfway through. Toss in rosemary and freshly cracked black pepper – serve immediately.

With over three decades in the food, media production, marketing & public relations fields, Rita Calvert has created myriad programs, events, cooking sessions on national television, the stage & The Annapolis School of Cooking. She has partnered in writing cookbooks and product lines to showcase the inspiration & nourishment of food. In her cookbook with Michael Heller, The Grassfed Gourmet Fires It Up, Rita supports the effort for Regenerative Agriculture.

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rotary logo

On Halloween morning, members of the Parole Rotary Club waved in people who arrived at the Books for International Goodwill (BIG) warehouse in Annapolis to:

  • Have sensitive documents shredded
  • Donate books to BIG
  • Donate sweaters and other winter clothing
  • Donate diapers

rotarians & donationsWonder Woman (Parole Rotary President Kristi Niedhardt, a former Annapolis Green Board member and Chair) and other light-hearted Rotarians in costume added to the fun. It was a heartwarming demonstration of the community coming together for a good cause – actually, for several good causes.

Not only did many people safely dispose of old tax records and other documents, they also did good deeds with their donations. Here are the results:

  • Shredded and recycled 5,500 lbs. of paper, saving 47 mature trees, 19,250 gallons of water, eight cubic yards of landfill space and 1,273 gallons of oil
  • Collected over 1,000 donated diapers for low-income parents of infants
  • Collected five pallets of books for BIG to send to developing countries
  • Collected two overstuffed pickup truck beds worth of sweaters/articles of winter clothing for our community’s most vulnerable people
  • Raised $680 for the Parole Rotary Foundation

And like me… many people left having bought more books than they donated. Talk about a win-win!

It Takes a Village…

shredding truckThe paper was shredded and recycled for free by Shred Instead thanks to CNR Insurance, Kristi Neidhardt Team and the Hatchel family.

Donated diapers are going to Tyler Heights Elementary School for distribution to families. Donated sweaters, hoodies and coats will go to #justonesweater and will be distributed directly to the community through Heritage Baptist Church, Eastport United Methodist Church, Asbury United Methodist Church, Feed Anne Arundel, and to residents at The Light House.

About the Parole Rotary

Now in its 35th year of Service Above Self throughout Anne Arundel County and the world, the club is comprised of over 60 members who are business owners, managers, or professionals, active and retired, and enthusiastically share and demonstrate the Rotary philosophy. The organization supports programs for youth including educational opportunities and international exchanges and provides support for professionals including vocational and career development. Its range of causes is broad, providing hands-on volunteer opportunities for members to make a direct impact on the local and international community. Read more.

About Books for International Goodwill

book warehouseBIG was created by the Parole Rotary Club. The organization provides services for recycling books discarded by current owners and puts them in the hands of new users. To date, BIG has sent 8.7 million books to over 30 countries around the world. Its next shipments are destined for Ethiopia, Nigeria, Kenya and Mongolia, countries where books – for students and adults – are scarce. There is a great need for non-fiction and children’s books, but any gently used book is accepted at the 24/7 shed at the warehouse, 451 Defense Highway. The next public book sale will be held on December 12, from 8am to 2pm. Face masks and safe distancing required. Read more.

Particularly in these difficult times, it lifts the spirit to see good works that will touch so many people right here in our community and in far-away lands too.

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Plastic Free QAC

News from Plastic Free QAC (Queen Anne’s County)

Maryland’s Foam Ban Goes into Effect

styrofoam containersAs the first state in the country, October 1 marked the date Maryland’s ban on Styrofoam (polystyrene), went into effect. This means that restaurants, schools, and other foodservice outlets are prohibited from using foam containers for take-out food and foam cups for liquids.

This is great news for the environment because Styrofoam is not recyclable and often ends up as pollution on the side of the road or in our waterways [where it breaks up into tiny pieces wildlife mistakes for food]. Maryland Del. Brooke Lierman, who introduced the legislation and saw it through passage during the 2019 General Assembly session after two unsuccessful previous attempts, states that the public is demanding products that leave less damage to the environment. She is also behind the legislation to ban plastic bags, legislation that is expected to pass during the 2021 session.

The foam ban law was originally scheduled to go into effect on July 1, but because of COVID-19, it was delayed until October. However, July 1 did mark the date for making it illegal for retailers to sell these items. You may have noticed that Styrofoam cups, plates, and clamshells were taken off the shelves at the grocery and other stores.

Take-out food is now served in plastic or heavy cardboard. Some restaurants are concerned about the extra costs of these different service items, but Mande Gretzinger, the payroll specialist at the popular Kent Narrow’s restaurant, Fisherman’s Inn, stated that “while it is a little more costly, it hasn’t affected the restaurant greatly.” A word of warning, PFQAC advises you NOT to heat up your restaurant take-out food in the plastic container it comes in. Hot or warm plastic releases damaging additives into the human body.

But let us take a moment to celebrate the ban of food-related Styrofoam in Maryland and the end of these items that have caused so much pollution over the years.

Think Before You Shrink!

shrink wrap

Shrink-wrapping is a popular way to protect your boat for the winter, but Plastic Free QAC encourages you to rethink the wrap. It is expensive and does not protect the boat from the cold freeze. Most importantly, plastic is a major pollutant, unless you recycle. Why not choose a reusable cover that lasts five to 10 years? A semi-custom cover for most boats under 30’ costs the same as two seasons of plastic wrap. Think about the environment—we all want to keep QAC beautiful.

Fortunately, for folks who feel more comfortable shrink-wrapping their boats, there is a responsible way to recycle the plastic wrap. It takes a little work and a little cost. The Marine Trades Association of Maryland (MTAM). MTAM sells boxes of 30 shrink-wrap bags at $15/bag. Ask your marina to organize other boaters to buy a bag for their shrink-wrap. (MTAM also offers half-boxes of 15 bags.)

Options:

  1. Consider not covering your boat this winter.
  2. Consider having a semi-custom reusable cover made that will last you five to 10 years.
  3. Consider recycling the shrink-wrap in the spring.
  4. OR consider storing your boat in a climate-controlled boat storage unit.

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annapolis green reads

by Karen Grumbles

You know the experiences where you are walking through a nature area and you hear the sounds of many birds, see all the different bugs skittering around on the ground and the strikingly beautiful butterflies fluttering around above the shrubs? We all tend to gravitate to places like Quiet Waters Park and Jug Bay Natural Area just for those kinds of experiences. Annapolis Green Reads Book Group picked Doug Tallamy’s Bringing Nature Home: How You Can Sustain Wildlife with Native Plants for its October read so that we can all learn how to bring that wildlife to our own yards and community spaces.

bringing nature home bookcover

Doug Tallamy talks about how we need many more of those spaces and that they need to be all around us in order to truly have a healthy, functioning ecosystem. He is a scientist, a specialist in entomology, with some important knowledge to impart.

He has studied the relationship of particular plants to insects, caterpillars, and butterflies to see which ones use the plants for food and for habitat. The insects as food source then beckon the birds and reptiles and other mammals to take up residence. He introduces us to a variety of native plants that are best for this ecosystem and even identifies “keystone” plants, those that benefit the largest variety of critters. As one member of the group said, “Everybody should have at least one oak tree in their yard.”

A memorable lesson from the book is that plants that are not native are frequently useless to the insects that we need for a healthy ecosystem. The reason that the beautiful Crepe Myrtles stay looking so pristine all year round is because no insects are using them for food. Ditto for the Norway Maple and the Bradford Pear tree. Why would we want to give our precious yard space to plants that serve no purpose in the environment?

The obvious response is that they are pretty. As we think through this some more, it starts to get really interesting because as the saying goes, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” We start thinking about who decides what constitutes ‘pretty’ in our urban and suburban yards? Is there a native plant that might be just as attractive as the non-native one we’ve been thinking about getting? We could even ask, ”Does the wildlife see these non-native plants as attractive?” because we really aren’t a keystone species for sustaining a healthy environment, other than fixing what we’ve broken.

In our book group, we all seem to have an appreciation for Tallamy’s perspective on the ecosystem. Humans have destroyed natural spaces and he provides the fundamentals for how to bring those spaces back and build a healthy ecosystem by starting with planting natives.

The second half of this book is a useful reference resource with native plants matched to the insects they attract. We discussed whether landscape gardeners are educated on this approach and what other resources are available*, that incentives for communities to plant natives might make a difference, and the importance and challenge of removing invasive species such as the dreaded phragmites and Japanese stiltgrass.

Tallamy has a new book out entitled Nature’s Best Hope that gives some practical steps on how to improve the spaces around us with native plants as a grassroots effort. It’s on our list of possible feature reads.

If you’d like to be included in our book group, please contact me. We would like to meet at Old Fox Books and support a local business but for now, because of COVID, we’re meeting via Zoom. Our November book is the 2018 Pulitzer winning novel The Overstory by Richard Powers.

Essential Native Trees & Shrubs book coverKaren Grumbles

*Annapolis Green sells a reference book that I am planning to ask for as a Christmas gift entitled Essential Native Trees and Shrubs for Eastern U.S.: The Guide to Creating A Sustainable Landscape by Tony Dove and Ginger Woolridge!

Learn more about our book club, Annapolis Green Reads.

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Seasoned gardeners break into a smile
when they talk about planting edibles in the fall

By Rita Calvert

For your second harvest: Start late summer and fall months and you can double your yield this year and enjoy homegrown flavor into fall and winter.

When I tracked down Homestead Gardens’ expert Gene Sumi to ask him about THE SECOND VEGGIE PLANTING, he broke out in a huge smile and said, “This is the best time to plant!”

Why? The sun and soil have worked diligently through the summer to prepare for you. The soil is warm enough to burst those seeds to germination. Seeds can be sown into the warm soil or you can simply plop in bedding plants. If you had a spring/summer edible garden, you most probably have already done the major soil amendments and of course, plotted out the garden. Now it’s just the gravy! You can see from Gene’s long list of veggies, below, this can be enough food to see you through most of the winter (given a bit of preserving the harvest).

lettuceTime to Start some Cool-Season Vegetable Seeds for Fall Planting

Fall is the best time to grow cool cool-season vegetables – even better than spring because in spring, the seeds need to be started indoors under artificial lights. In August the temperatures are warm enough to start the seeds outdoors, many sown directly in the soil. Follow the instructions on the packages. Gene encouraged us to at least grow some lettuce (everybody loves lettuce) but you really will appreciate all of those other greens such as kale, Swiss Chard and the Asian Greens! You can easily grow them in containers.

  • Arugula
  • Asian Greens
  • Beets
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Bunching Onions
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Collards
  • Kale
  • Lettuce
  • Mache
  • Mesclun
  • Mustard
  • Peas
  • Radish
  • Scallions
  • Spinach
  • Swiss Chard
  • Turnips

With over three decades in the food, media production, marketing & public relations fields, Rita Calvert has created myriad programs, events, cooking sessions on national television, the stage & The Annapolis School of Cooking. She has partnered in writing cookbooks and product lines to showcase the inspiration & nourishment of food. In her cookbook with Michael Heller, The Grassfed Gourmet Fires It Up, Rita supports the effort for Regenerative Agriculture.

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by Elvia Thompson

severn river association(October 19, 2020) – The Severn River Association has been monitoring water quality in the creeks and main stem of our capital river for several years. This year it’s been doing this since early spring – even with the pandemic. Yesterday I joined in so see how it’s done. SRA executive director Tom Guay directed the operation as captain although the two young women who made up the crew needed no guidance as they had the routine well in hand.

Amelia Johnson

Our masked crew consisted of Emi McGeady (left), who, as SRA Field Investigator, is working at SRA as a Chesapeake Conservation Corps participant after graduating from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Also joining us was Summer Intern Amelia Johnson (right), a senior at St. Mary’s High School who plans to major in Environmental Studies when she starts college next year.

The job yesterday was to take readings in some of the Severn’s creeks north of Annapolis to include Mill, Burley, Rideout and Whitehall.

Apart from enjoying the spectacular day and unique views of some of the area’s most beautiful homes and boats, I joined in the work.

secchi disk
Secchi disk

We took several readings in various locations in each creek. My job was to hold the sensor at various depths in the water column at each monitoring location. Amelia read data aloud from the sensor and Emi recorded salinity, dissolved oxygen, pH, temperature, and acidity (pH). Tom put the Secchi disk in the water to measure clarity which Emi also recorded. We did this 33 times.

At the end of the season the data will be added to the Chesapeake Monitoring Cooperative’s citizen science dataset via the Chesapeake Data Explorer program. The Cooperative shares water quality data for the entire Bay watershed and tracks tidal and non-tidal data with a grant from the Chesapeake Bay Program (the federal, multi-state, multi-jurisdictional organization led by the EPA). This river and creek data is an important piece of the puzzle of what makes up the Chesapeake Bay. Scientists take all the data obtained by volunteers and scientists throughout the year to determine if restoration efforts are working and what needs to be adjusted.

For its part, SRA uses collected data all year to provide weekly updates on status of the River, tracking dead zones all summer, pernicious algae blooms, sediment plumes, other activities on the river. That makes the monitoring program important for connecting residents to the River too.

SRA used the data collected to produce and release the Annual State of the Severn on April 23 and a River report card with grades for dissolved oxygen, clarity, swimming safety and abundance of underwater grasses properly known as subaquatic vegetation (SAV). When people living in the River’s watershed understand what is happening in the River they will be more likely to work to improve conditions and protect the River.

severn river monitoring map
SRA’s monitoring stations.

The organization visits its 44 monitoring stations in the 17 creeks and mainstem that make up the Severn River. Measuring the creeks is key to understanding the true makeup of the 14-mile-long river whose many miles of shoreline range from the natural flora and fauna that would have been familiar to the indigenous people and Captain John Smith to beautiful estates with piers and boathouses to the urban landscape of busy Annapolis. I had forgotten just how much shoreline the Severn and its tributaries contain.

SRA relies on a team of 25 volunteers and three boat captains to do the monitoring week every week, all season, from May through the end of fall, four days a week. It’s a major effort and it’s possible thanks to a grant from Delaplaine Foundation.

As is the case with most of the rivers in the mid and northern part of the Bay, the Severn is an impaired river, an EPA designation based primarily measurements of nitrogen, phosphorous and sediment. This summer the SRA found dead zones in several parts of the River – areas where there is so little dissolved oxygen that fish and crabs go elsewhere. If the level is low enough and they can’t get away they suffocate and die.

Chesapeake underwater grasses
Chesapeake underwater grasses

Dead zones caused by algae blooms because when the algae die and bacteria get to work decomposing it, they use up the oxygen in the water. This is most common in hot weather. This year there were times when dead zones were up to five meters tall from the bottom. Fish move closer to the surface where there is more oxygen if they can. Algae blooms also make it hard for underwater grasses to grow because it blocks sunlight from reaching the bottom. These grasses are important for development of young marine life.

This summer dead zone conditions were found from June through Labor Day from the Route 50 bridge through Round Bay and up to headwaters. Dead zones were also found at one time or another in most of the River’s creeks, especially Weems, Luce, Saltworks, Clements, Chase, and Brewer.

And it’s all our fault.

Stormwater runoff, carrying sediment, fertilizers, pesticides and other toxic materials makes it difficult, if not impossible for underwater grasses, fish, and shellfish like crabs and oysters to thrive or to even survive. And with the effects of human-induced Climate Change upon us, our waters will get hotter and more acidic, likely altering the type of critters that live in the waters and along the shore. That’s why monitoring is so important – so scientists can better understand what’s happening and advise policy makers on next steps. Emi and Amelia are learning firsthand how human activity alters Nature.

SRA was founded in 1911 and is the oldest river organization in the country. Its website, severnriver.org, contains a lot of info about the river and the organization’s many programs and volunteer opportunities. Its staff and volunteers monitor the entire river and its creeks from its stations ranging from Lake Ogleton to Indian Landing. It works closely with the Spa Creek Conservancy too.

One of the things that made the day especially enjoyable for me was Tom’s narrative of the history of the area (he’s a history buff, author of a historical novel, and former heritage guide in Annapolis) and of its natural history. He is a treasure trove of stories and scientific data.

At the end of our monitoring work we explored Meredith Creek, which begins under Route 50. Tom set some waypoints that may be the sites of new monitoring stations next year.

Yesterday we didn’t monitor oysters or SAV but SRA reports that oysters in the Severn are doing well. No dead zones were found south of the Route 50 bridge this summer.

On the chilly quick return trip to the slip in Back Creek, the wide expanse of the Bay – bookended by the Bay Bridge on one end and Thomas Point Shoal Lighthouse on the other – filled my heart and reminded me how lucky we are to live here and how important it is to protect this unique estuary.

view of the severn

The SRA crew will continue its work until it gets too cold to attract volunteers to help – probably in December. For now the SRA boat will get under weigh from Port Annapolis in Back Creek four days a week to gather data – up close and personal with the Severn. Reliable volunteers are welcome. Read more about the program.

It’s messing about in boats for a good purpose. There’s nothing better than that!

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Fig Frangipane
Fig Talk on the World’s Most Ancient Fruit

Figs

Figs are my passion – the fruit and the tree. Figs just have a certain cachet! Maybe it’s the ancient history, or the Mediterranean origin which makes them so alluring, or possibly the exotic ingredients which complement them in pairings. Different varieties of figs can be paired with varietal wines. This is some brief chit-chat on a topic aficionados love to go on about. If you want to talk figs, contact me on Facebook or through Annapolis Green.

I am happy to say I’ve had some great fig education this year during an especially robust harvest. Recently  I met the farmer who, by arrangement, picked up 35 pounds of figs from me for her CSA members. What a huge learningexperience this year! Refrigeration was a key roadblock as there is just never enough space and these East Coast delicate figs must be refrigerated. Rain taught me the other lesson – big time! At near ripeness it will crack due to the rain as the inside fruit grows too fast for the skin to manage. So for trying to fill this large order for me I had to pick, pick, pick when I knew a rain storm was coming.

Fig plant

Then there is packaging. How do I get 35 pounds to a farmer and how will she store and distribute to her many CSA customers. Also, there was juggling on how to keep supplying my accounts such as restaurants and individuals.

Now the major bearing trees are winding down and I have some later figs coming from a black mission and another tree of unknown variety.

I’m sharing a recipe I developed as a special birthday fig tart/cake. It complements the exotic caché of this ‘fruit of the internal flower.’ I am told by Facebook the photograph of my Fig Frangipane Tart is the most popular from all of my posts. I’ll give other fig ideas after the very special tart recipe.

Fig Frangipane Tart

I used a rectangle tart pan just because it is different enough to be an extra attention- getter! I have also made this more freeform as in a rectangular gallette.

This frangipane recipe makes enough almond cream for 1 large tart or several small tartlets.

figs in basketsIngredients
Tart
1 dozen large fresh figs (about 1 full pound) more if figs are small, cut in half
Sea salt
1 sheet puff pastry, thawed but still cold

Frangipane
1/2 cup ground almond meal (can use almond flour)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
pinch salt
1 egg
3 tablespoons butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Dash almond extract
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

Using a food processor, combine all the ingredients until a smooth, creamy paste is formed.

Directions
First make the Frangipane.
Preheat oven to 375ºF and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Unroll the puff pastry and place it on the parchment paper. Refrigerate to keep cold.

Spread Frangipane on puff pastry sheet, leaving 1/2 inch border around the edges. Bake 10 minutes on rack positioned lower in oven to get bottom crust completely baked.

Tart
Place fig halves, cut side up, on top of frangipane & sprinkle very lightly with salt, return to oven & for the final 30 minutes bake on a rack placed in the middle of the oven. Puff pastry edges should be crispy and golden brown.

Cool for a 10 minutes, then brush with melted black currant jelly to glaze. Let cool to solidify.

Fig Frangipane

Other Fig Ideas

Splendidly Simple – Use abundantly on charcuterie trays

With Mascarpone
Cut large figs in half lengthwise
Spread generously with mascarpone

With Carambola
Cut large figs in half lengthwise
Spread each half with a large soft dollop Saint Andre or Carambola cheese
Drizzle with balsamic glaze (not vinegar)

With Prosciutto
Wrap whole medium size figs with a band of prosciutto
Bake in 375ºF oven for 5-7 minutes

Fig Toast
Brioche bread, mascarpone, crumbled crisp bacon, figs-bake briefly – 400ºF

Figs in Salads
Figs pair beautifully with cheese, nuts, arugula, lettuces, homemade croutons so use your imagination

Sauces
Sautéed halved figs with a dash of red wine and caramelized onion complement chicken, lamb and pork beautifully.

With over three decades in the food, media production, marketing & public relations fields, Rita Calvert has created myriad programs, events, cooking sessions on national television, the stage & The Annapolis School of Cooking. She has partnered in writing cookbooks and product lines to showcase the inspiration & nourishment of food. In her cookbook with Michael Heller, The Grassfed Gourmet Fires It Up, Rita supports the effort for Regenerative Agriculture.

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GEM vehicle with passengers in Annapolis
Founding One Hundred Spotlight

The History of Mid Atlantic GEM

By Russell Rankin

founding one hundred

In October of 2007 I dropped in on Annapolis with my business, eCruisers, and worked the Annapolis Boat Show that year. I started out just giving free rides about town to huge success. Then I had a real estate agent approach us to put his advertising on one of the vehicles and the rest is history. I was asked by the Eastport Business Association President to present our business to the EBA at the Eastport Yacht Club. At that meeting I met Elvia Thompson who invited me to a Green Drinks, where I met her business partner, Lynne Forsman. And the rest is history again.

Following that 2007 Boat Show, I dropped in on the Navy Football Game the following weekend and was giving free rides up to the stadium from the surrounding area. The problem was I didn’t have permission to be on Navy Property, so eventually I was asked to leave, but not before I got the USNA Contact for the stadium operations. We met several days later signed a deal for game day shuttle operations for the balance of that football season. That led to the NCAA Lacrosse Tournament held at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in the spring of 2008. That led to the USNA Graduation Ceremony. We maintained that relationship until 2014 when it was handed off to buyers of eCruisers. I believe that still continues to this day, except for the pandemic changing everything.

In the fall of 2008 to 2013 and after partnering with Annapolis Green, we sold out all available advertising space for the Annapolis Boat Show, every year, and started our traditional yearly shuttle for the Weems & Plath Tent Sale that continues today through another provider (Charm Cars) that we handed it off to.

From there we worked the Nationals Baseball Games when the new Nats Ballpark first opened up (spring of 2008) and the area surrounding the Ballpark was not developed. We took care of patrons from the Barracks Row area in southeast DC who pre-gamed at those establishments a little over a mile away. That grew into a daily lunch shuttle from that Navy Yard area, and our clientele was none other than the bureaucrats who worked in the US Department of Transportation, and who were enacting the Low Speed Vehicle Laws at the same time. That whole endeavor landed us on the front page of the Washington Post in June of 2009, with a feature article on our operations. History again!

GEM vehicle with passengers in AnnapolisA business reset in the summer of 2009 saw 10 new GEM e6 100% Electric Low Speed Vehicles delivered to Annapolis – the largest one-time purchase of GEM e6 vehicles in the history of the manufacturer (Chrysler at the time). We even ordered a blue one specifically to serve the needs of the Annapolis and Anne Arundel Conference & Visitors Bureau (now Visit Annapolis). This was also the largest single fleet of that vehicle, or any street-legal Electric Vehicle in the State of Maryland, the United States, and for that matter, the world. Nobody had seen the likes of this before, anywhere in the Country!

We began a daily free ride service in Downtown Annapolis which was a huge success, but its longevity was tied to a City Contract that never materialized. Instead the City went with the still failing Circulator System, which we would have, and still could, run circles around today, for a fraction of the cost (can anyone say “Political Football?”).

As a result we shifted our Business Plan toward local and national events, not daily service. We worked major events in 13 different states plus the District of Columbia. We worked two Presidential Inaugurations, US Open Golf, AARP national conventions, National Football League, Major League Baseball, Major League Lacrosse, National College Athletic Association, weddings, youth tournaments and other high profile events in the cities of Orlando, New Orleans, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Boston, Phoenix… and more. We grew to an active fleet of 16 vehicles, the largest said fleet of GEM e6s in the world at the time. We drove more miles and moved more people in GEM vehicles than anyone ever dreamed of doing, all with a perfect traffic and safety record. “Copy catters” soon followed. This took us from doing 90% of our business here in Annapolis, down to less than 10% of our business being done in Annapolis. This continued through 2013.

I hit the “wall” in January of 2014, on a Thursday night in Baltimore, at 10pm when it was pitch black out, minus 4 degrees, working the Baltimore Boat Show. After working 3,000 hours per year, I decided to look into other possibilities. I had divested my majority interest in eCruisers back in 2010, but continued to manage it until I departed/resigned in April of 2014, which allowed for an easy exit.

mid atlantic gemThe frailty of GEM Ownership was getting parts & service, even warranty service. I had become an Accredited Warranty Service Provider for our own vehicles early on, which gave us a huge competitive advantage over any competition. In early 2014, GEM, now owned by Polaris, approached me to become a GEM Dealership, and Mid Atlantic GEM was born. One of our first moves was to become a Founding One Hundred supporter of Annapolis Green. I figured that over the years I had eaten close to that in appetizers at Green Drinks events, so it wasn’t much of a stretch to give back.

In our first year as a GEM Dealer, we were a Top 5 Selling GEM Dealer in the country, and a #1 North of Georgia (GEM’s were predominantly southern tier vehicles), even though our main focus was toward parts and service. We singlehandedly resurrected the GEM Market in the Mid Atlantic region, by focusing 100% on the GEM Product Line, something nobody had ever done. We proved it would work successfully. We now sell and service vehicles all over the USA and overseas as well.

Now, here in 2020, six years later as a GEM Dealer, we have survived several major business challenges over the years, a two-year, near-death health crisis, culminating in a bone marrow transplant in January of 2020. I recovered just in time for the pandemic to arrive, only to then have to go into self-isolation at my home on the Maryland Shore during the spring of this year.

We’ll only miss this year’s EV Show, because of my spouse’s Milestone Birthday that falls that same week (God, Family, Health). I’m sure it will be an excellent event with Annapolis Green spearheading it. I’ve known Lynne & Elvia now for 13+ years and have maintained near constant touch throughout that entire time. It has been one of the most positive personal relationships, and fruitful business relationships in my life. I am very grateful for all they have done and accomplished with Green Drinks and other programs. I cannot say enough good things about them, and their cause!

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Tesla and father & son

by Rob Savidge

The Tesla website allows you to put in the exact features you want and it searches its inventory across the entire country. You can do the same thing for used Teslas. That’s what I did and I bought a 2018 Model 3.

I submitted my payment online and after that, the worst part was the wait. But once the car arrived I was notified it was available for pickup.

I showed up at the Tesla store and it was the quickest I got in and out of a “dealership” in my life.

They had everything ready for me. I signed some papers, they handed me the key card, briefed me on the car, and I was off. No haggling or hassles whatsoever.

tesla home chargerI keep my car charged via a Level 2 charger at home (left), thanks to the BGE rebate for charging equipment. I rarely charge when I’m out on my daily travels except on longer trips.

tesla superchargerShe goes 325 miles on a full charge, but all it takes is 15 minutes on a Tesla Supercharger (right) to get to 80% of a full charge. That 15 minutes is time enough to get some lunch or take a quick break.

Editor’s note: Read more about driving electric here.

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peach salad

Stone fruits—peaches, apricots, cherries, nectarines, and plums—are some of the great mouth-watering joys of summer. They are packed with phytochemicals, vitamins and minerals plus they are low in calories. Stone fruits are super fruits, with plums as emerging stars. One of the benefits found is that plums inhibit breast cancer growth in lab cells. Now is the time to get your fill because the height of the season will soon be upon us.

For ease in separating the halves, the free-stone varieties come into season later and are well worth the wait.

peach salad

Peach Salad with Lemon Thyme Vinaigrette 

Serves 4

salad radishes
A salad turnip eaten raw.

Any of the stone fruits work with sweet or savory preparations. This salad is a winner as the succulent white nectarines pair beautifully with the lemon thyme dressing. The thinly sliced salad turnips-no they ARE NOT radishes, give a great crunch along with the hazelnuts.

  • 3 ripe peaches, sliced into thin wedges
  • 3 cups baby lettuces (mesclun)
  • Salad turnips, thinly sliced
  • 4 tablespoons chopped hazelnuts
  • 3 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon thyme
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 ounces fresh chevre, crumbled
immersion blender making dressing
Using an immersion blender and a canning jar makes preparing vinaigrette a breeze.

In a large bowl, toss together nectarine slices, mesclun, sliced turnips and hazelnuts.

Put vinegar, lemon thyme, salt and pepper in a mason jar, blender or food processor and combine until smooth.

If using the jar with an immersion blender, puree while slowly adding the olive oil.

Divide peach salad among serving plates and drizzle with the fresh vinaigrette. Sprinkle with the chevre crumbles.

 

gorgonzola dish

Grilled Stone with Balsamic Glaze and Gorgonzola

Just because I found them fresh and at Grauls Market, I decided to add a simple dessert to the grilling class I conducted recently. It turned out these grilled jewels were the hit of the class as the flavors couldn’t be more perfect together. Three ingredients are all you need here – amazing! The trick here is to add the room temperature gorgonzola while the peaches are hot.

  • Peaches, scrubbed and cut in half
  • Balsamic Glaze
  • Crumbled gorgonzola (or blue cheese), at room temperature

Light the grill to high heat.

Place the prepared peach halves on a tray (to carry to the grill) with cut side up. When the grill is hot, drizzle the peaches with the balsamic glaze. Quickly place glaze-side down on the grill. Sear until nicely browned. Immediately place on a serving plate and sprinkle with gorgonzola so that it melts.

Stone Fruit Salsa on Salmon

Here you go with a savory treatment for stone fruit. For this very fresh salsa I used a lot of what was happening from my kitchen and herb garden. You can interchange any other stone fruit here. Serve it with seafood as I love it, or with chips, beans, or in sandwiches or just by the spoonful!

  • 2 white nectarines, diced
  • 1/2 diced cup cucumber, diced
  • 1/2 cup diced red tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup diced orange tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon fresh cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon fresh garlic chives, thinly sliced

Mix ingredients together and refrigerate for 20 minutes to let season before serving.

With over three decades in the food, media production, marketing & public relations fields, Rita Calvert has created myriad programs, events, cooking sessions on national television, the stage & The Annapolis School of Cooking. She has partnered in writing cookbooks and product lines to showcase the inspiration & nourishment of food. In her cookbook with Michael Heller, The Grassfed Gourmet Fires It Up, Rita supports the effort for Regenerative Agriculture.

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CCAMD litter pickup logo

Get outside and help clean up your local waterway or community!

by Jocelyn Fillius
Coastal Conservation Association Maryland (CCAMD) Seasonal Assistant & Lead of Chesapeake Clean-Up Week

In partnership with the iAngler Tournament cellphone app, anglers (and all others) are being encouraged to photograph and track litter picked up shoreside or aboard a boat. Normally the app is used by anglers competing in fishing tournaments.

This CCAMD litter pickup challenge has been extended to this Sunday, August 9. Get your photos in so you can be at the top of the litter “leaderboard!”

This event runs through the iAngler app just like a fishing tournament, but instead of submitting fish, you submit a photo of your “catch” of trash! The more trash photos you submit, the greater your chances of winning prizes including CCA Maryland stainless drinkware, shirts, and hats. And one lucky CCA Maryland member who participates will win an Engel Backpack Cooler!

What better time than summer to get out there and celebrate all that the Chesapeake Bay has to offer? We are looking forward to working with all of you to help clean-up our watershed and Bay!

This is a good way to keep social distancing and yet do some good for our waterways. It’s natural for anglers and boaters to be concerned about litter in our waterways and to do their part to help. In fact, with this app, we can all get outside to do our bit with social distancing.

Anyone picking up litter anywhere should wear gloves and carefully dispose of what is picked up. There have been many reports of potentially contaminated litter made up of wipes, gloves and masks.

Read more in Chesapeake Bay Magazine’s Bay Bulletin and watch CCAMD’s video.

coastal conservation association marylandFor those who don’t know, Coastal Conservation Association Maryland is a non-profit organization dedicated to the conservation of Maryland’s Marine Resources. Founded in 1995 and one of 19 state chapters of the national CCA organization, we work with over 1,500 members, including recreational anglers and outdoor enthusiasts, to conserve, enhance and promote marine resources and coastal environments in Maryland. A membership is not required to participate in our event but please JOIN CCA TODAY!

Find out more about the litter “tournament” on the iAngler website.

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tasty squash dish

Garden Leadership/Garden Eating

with Rita Calvert

Before we get to recipes, look at this gardening inspiration on showing the way to be a creative leader. To those of us who garden, the lessons are rewarding and incomparable.

“There is a lot that gardening, design, and creative leadership have in common,” states Tim Brown, Executive Chair at IDEO, Vice Chair at kyu Collective. His profound thoughts can, in turn, get us pondering all the benefits of our gardens.

Gardening is generative, iterative, and user-centered – You might be interested in planting a “Grab and Go Garden” that contains only fruits and vegetables that could be eaten straight away… more plants were eaten, less were wasted. A good garden, like good design, needs to meet the needs of its users.

Gardening helps us frame future design challenges – The old assembly-line metaphors of the Industrial Revolution won’t help us design the future. Our world is complex. Like a garden, we must tend it, cultivate it, steward it, and encourage it to meet our needs instead of always trying to be in control of it. Our solutions must accommodate the competing needs of humans and the rest of nature. Successful design, like successful gardening, is never finished and is constantly changing.

Gardening teaches us how to be creative leaders – A gardener helps living things thrive through attentiveness and dialogue. Good leadership starts by finding talented people, giving them a safe space to cultivate their creativity, and letting them grow into their full potential under careful guidance—not a controlling thumb.

Recipes from your garden

Summer squash is what most gardeners and farmers in the region are finding in abundance this time of year. That’s the produce focus this week. Grill, roast, shred, can, pickle or freeze that crookneck, Zephyr, zucchini, yellow zucchini, or pattypan to extend your season. Some tasty ideas are below.

Roasted Zucchini Baton Salad

Serves 2

vegetable mix

Although the zucchini are roasted to bring out the flavor this is a fresh, cool and very filling salad. Basil leaves are used for flavor impact instead of lettuce leaves.

  • 2 medium zucchini cut into “batons” (see photo)
  • 1/2 cup chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 3/4 cup small red and orange or yellow tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup halved pitted Kalamata olives
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • About 1/4 cup small fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup Marcona almonds

zucchini batonsPreheat the oven to 400F.

Place the zucchini batons on a baking pan and brush with olive oil. Bake on the top rack of the oven for about 18-20 minutes, until nicely brown. Let cool.

In a large bowl toss together the zucchini, chickpeas, tomatoes, olives, lime juice, salt, pepper and olive oil. Place each portion on a serving plate. Tuck in basil leaves and sprinkle with the almonds.

Crookneck Gazpacho with Cannelini Beans

Serves 4

yellow & green squash

A yellow gazpacho over the traditional red is a delight and simply says summer. This is a chilled soup even though the squash is first simmered and pureed to form the light foundation.

  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 1/2 cups diced crookneck squash
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups chopped seeded unpeeled cucumber
  • 1 cup finely chopped freshly roasted yellow bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped sweet onion
  • 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
  • Sour cream or plain Greek yogurt for topping soup

Bring broth to a boil, add squash and boil gently for 10-12 minutes or until very soft. Add the garlic, salt and pepper. Using an immersion blender directly in the pot, puree the squash and let cool.

Stir in the cucumber, roasted bell pepper, onion, balsamic vinegar and Old Bay Seasoning. Taste and adjust spices.

Ladle into individual bowls and garnish with a tablespoon of sour cream or thick yogurt.

Pattypan Ricotta Galettes

Makes 4 personal-size galettes

savory squash dish

Summer Squash galettes seem to be enticing for summer’s lush bounty. I’ve traded out basic pastry dough for the extra special puff pastry and made individual tartlets. The galettes need to cool before adding the basil leaves.

  • 6 medium pattypan squash, cut horizontally into 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced, (use divided)
  • 3/4 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme or lemon thyme
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • egg wash-1 large egg beaten with 1 teaspoon water
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400°.

slices of yellow squashCombine squash, 1 tablespoon oil and half of garlic in a bowl.

Combine ricotta, egg, remaining garlic, thyme, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a medium bowl, stirring to combine.

Brush the egg wash ONLY on smooth dough surfaces-not cut edges (or it won’t rise).

The points are pulled up; brush the edges with egg wash and pinch together.

squash filled pastryUnwrap puff pastry sheet and place flat on a lightly floured surface. Cut into 4 equal squares. Place first square on ungreased baking sheet pan. Place a scant 2 tablespoons ricotta mixture in just the center of square. Arrange 4 squash slices overlapping, over ricotta mixture. Sprinkle squash with salt and pepper. Fold points of dough toward center, brushing the center of the edges with egg wash and pressing gently to seal (see photo). Brush the outside and the folded tips with egg wash. Repeat with remaining 3 pieces of puff pastry dough.

Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool 5 minutes.

Top with grated cheese and a few small fresh basil leaves. Serve.

With over three decades in the food, media production, marketing & public relations fields, Rita Calvert has created myriad programs, events, cooking sessions on national television, the stage & The Annapolis School of Cooking. She has partnered in writing cookbooks and product lines to showcase the inspiration & nourishment of food. In her cookbook with Michael Heller, The Grassfed Gourmet Fires It Up, Rita supports the effort for Regenerative Agriculture.

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Jug Bay
jug bay wetlands sanctuaryJoin fellow gardeners, butterfly watchers and native plant enthusiasts in the butterfly garden. Volunteers weed, water, prune and otherwise maintain the Butterfly Garden at the Glendening Preserve’s Plummer House at Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary. Volunteers learn all about which plants support our native pollinators and how to take care of a vibrant and healthy garden. Occasionally volunteers are welcome to take plants and cuttings home for their own gardens. Bring work gloves, a snack, a refillable water bottle, hat and sunscreen and clothes and shoes that can get dirty. Registration is not required and walk-ins are welcome!
Ages: Open to anyone willing to work
Time: 9 – 11 am
Place:Glendening Nature Preserve (Plummer entrance), 5702 Plummer Ln, Lothian, MD 20711
Contact jugbay@aacounty.org or call 410-222-8006 for more information.

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grilled sliders

Local & Seasonal Cooking

with Rita Calvert
from The Grassfed Gourmet Fires It Up!

The Grassfed Gourmet Fires it Up! book cover

We’re well into grilling season, so here is one of my favorite recipes from The Grassfed Gourmet Fires It Up!, which you can find at Annapolis Green on Maryland Avenue in Annapolis. First comes a Grilling 101 section, a primer actually, from the book and then a recipe where I made fun and efficient work of mouth-watering sliders for a crowd.

Grilling 101

I want to share this confession from a dear friend who loves farm-fresh food and vows to spend as much time outdoors as possible. “As much as I adore grilled food, I do not know how to do this myself. I don’t even know how to turn on the gas grill or build a charcoal barbecue fire.”

She’s game to try it now with the same easy tips I am sharing here with you. You can find more details in many other books and websites but this basic primer will get you started and reduce the stress of this oh-so-versatile cooking method that makes food so tasty. With this primer and the recipes you’ll find in The Grassfed Gourmet Fires It Up!, you will be barbecuing all summer (or year-round) like an old hand. Start by practicing on yourself or with a small group.

Plan ahead
You can cook just about anything on the grill. With just a little planning, you will have your indoor kitchen clutter-free and cleaned up, even before serving the meal, regardless of whether you’re cooking for yourself, your family, or a whole gang of friends. Best of all, you won’t be washing loads of pots and pans in the wee hours after a relaxed meal. If you plan side dishes that are safe to serve at room temperature, such as breads and simple vegetable and potato side dishes, you will have even more freedom to prepare ahead and then relax.

For a crowd, you can prepare side dishes ahead (or assign sides to your guests), present them on serving platters, then completely clean up your indoor kitchen before the meal.

If you’re cooking for a party, get the basics—such as the centerpiece, plates, flatware, serving pieces, and some condiments—on the table before guests arrive. This will save time later in the evening when your food is ready for serving.

Set the stage for grilling
Before you fire up the grill, be practical. Position your grill away from all shrubbery, overhangs, grass, or other flammable surfaces or materials. Don’t even think about a closed area like a garage. Your grill should be on a stable surface. Never use gasoline or kerosene to start your fire. And make sure the grill is clean and the vents are open and airy—they should not be clogged with old ashes.

Choose your grill
When it comes to quick and easy cooking, a gas grill is probably the most convenient way to go, but nothing beats the flavor of foods cooked over real wood or charcoal. Not to worry, though, because you can do both at once.

Add real wood flavor to your gas-grilled foods by placing small green or water-soaked wood chips on foil that has been punctured with a few holes to let air circulate. Start the grill and then place the package on a portion of the gas element and let it start to smoke. If you are using a charcoal grill, be aware of the time it takes to prepare the fire and heat the grill before you start cooking. This can vary depending on the type of wood or charcoal you use, so test different brands beforehand and stick with the one that works best with your grill.

Prepare your grill
Prepare the grill by rubbing clean grates with cooking oil using a paper towel. Food won’t stick and cleaning up is far less messy and stressful.

Always preheat your grill—with the lid closed—for the time recommended for the brand and style of your grill or to the suggested temperature in the recipe you’re following. Gas grills need to be turned on at least 10 minutes before cooking. If you use a charcoal grill, allow the coals to burn for at least 30 minutes or until the flames subside before cooking.

Note: Always keep the bottom tray and drip pan of your gas grill clean and free of debris. This not only prevents dangerous grease fires, but it also deters visits from unwanted critters. A sprinkle of red pepper in the pan is another safe way to discourage animals.

Light your Grill
For gas grilling: Read all grilling instructions that came with your grill first; every grill ignites differently. In general, however, you start by opening the grill lid, then opening the tank valve, then turning the front/first burner to high heat. Allow 2 to 3 seconds for the gas chamber to fill. Then push the igniter button firmly. The burner should light after only one or two pushes of the button. Once the first burner is lit, turn the middle/next burner to high heat and repeat with the other burners until all burners are lit. Close the lid. Allow the grill to preheat on high to 500° to 550°F. Place your food on the cooking rack and adjust burners to the temperatures and cooking method given in the recipe.

Consult your grill’s instructions about what to do if there are flare-ups. In my experience, when flare-up occurs, I turn all burners to the off position and then move the food to another area of the cooking grate. Then, I light the grill again. Never use water to extinguish flames on a gas grill.

For charcoal grilling: I have found the best method for firing up a charcoal grill is with a quick-start chimney. They usually sell for about $12-15 where grills are sold. Fill the bottom of the chimney with some crumbled newspaper, then place charcoal or briquettes on top of that, and ignite. In about 25 minutes, your coals should be ready. The charcoal will be lightly coated with ash. Carefully pour the heated charcoal out of the starter and into the grill. Arrange it evenly across the charcoal rack for the “direct method” of grilling or on either side of grate for the “indirect method” of grilling. New terms? See below.

Another option for starting your charcoal grill is to place crumpled newspaper or fuel cubes on the charcoal grate. Cover the paper with charcoal briquettes to form a pyramid (not too huge) and then light the charcoal. It should be ready in about 25 minutes when a light grey ash coats all of the briquettes. We recommend learning to do this without using lighter fluid to keep your grilling simple, clean, and safe.

Choose your grilling method
Before preparing your grill, decide if the food you are grilling requires “direct” or “indirect” heat. With a little practice, these two approaches to cooking will become second nature—and you will have mastered one of the most important grilling techniques. Remember, though, whether you are cooking with the direct method or indirect method, always grill with the lid on.

Grilling with direct heat is similar to broiling except that the heat source is below the food; in other words, the food is cooked directly over the heat source (thus “direct” heat cooking). Use the direct method for foods that take less than 25 minutes to cook, such as steaks, chops, kebabs, sausages, and vegetables. Direct cooking is also necessary in order to sear meats.

The indirect method is similar to roasting but with the added benefit of grilled texture, flavor, and appearance, which you can’t get from an oven. This is best for foods that require 25 minutes or more of grilling time or foods that are so delicate that direct exposure to the heat source would dry them out or scorch them. Use the indirect method for roasts, ribs, whole chickens, turkeys, and other large cuts of meat as well as for delicate fish fillets.

Direct-heat cooking: how-to
To grill on a charcoal grill using a direct-heat method, spread prepared coals evenly across the charcoal grate. Set the cooking grate over the coals and light the coals. Once the coals are ready, place the food on the cooking grate. Close the lid, lifting it only to turn food or to test for doneness at the end of the recommended cooking time.

To grill on a gas grill using a direct-heat method, preheat the grill with all burners on high. Place the food on the cooking grate and then adjust all burners to the temperature noted in the recipe. Close the lid of the grill and lift only to turn food or to test for doneness toward the end of the recommended cooking time.

For even cooking, food should be turned once halfway through the grilling time. Searing creates that crisp, caramelized texture where the food hits the grate. Those nice grill marks add more than visual appeal, they flavor the entire food surface. Steaks, chops, chicken pieces, and larger cuts of meat all benefit from searing.

Indirect-heat method: how-to
To grill on a charcoal grill using the indirect-heat method, arrange hot coals evenly on either side (or around the perimeter) of the charcoal grate. A drip pan placed in the center of the charcoal grate between the coals is useful to collect drippings that can be used for gravies and sauces. It also helps prevent flare-ups when cooking fattier foods, such as chicken or turkey with the skin on, goose, duck, or certain roasts. For longer cooking times, add water to the drip pan to keep drippings from burning. Place the cooking grate over the coals, light the charcoal, and once the grill is heated, place the food on the cooking grate, centered over the drip pan or charcoal grate. Close the lid and lift only to baste or check for doneness at the end of the suggested cooking time.

If you are using a gas grill, preheat the grill with all burners on high. Then adjust the burners on the sides to the temperature noted in the recipe. Turn off the burner(s) directly below the food. For best results, place roasts, poultry, or large cuts of meat on a roasting rack set inside a disposable heavy foil pan. For longer cooking times, add water to the foil pan to keep drippings from burning.

In some cases, it is best to sear the food first to obtain grill marks and then place the food in a cast iron or an aluminum pan to catch the juices for the rest of the cooking time. Heat rises, reflects off the lid and inside surfaces of the grill, and slowly cooks the food evenly on all sides. The circulating heat works much like a convection oven so there’s no need to turn the food.

Prepare meat, poultry or seafood for grilling
For steaks and chops, trim excess fat, leaving only a scant 1/4-inch of fat, which is sufficient to flavor the meat. For poultry, note that the skin has enough fat to feed the flame, potentially leading to flare ups. Less fat is a virtual guarantee against flare-ups and it makes cleanup easier.

After trimming the meat, marinate according to the recipe or rewrap and chill. About an hour before grilling (but for food safety, no earlier), allow meat to come to room temperature.

Cooking tips
Create two temperature zones in your grill: one warm and one hot. If you use a gas grill, turn one side to high heat and keep the other on low. If you use a wood/charcoal grill, the trick is to push most of the embers toward one side. This will help cook pieces of food more evenly by allowing you to periodically move them from low heat to high.

Hold the sauce. If you’re using barbecue sauce or any sauce that contains sugar or fat, wait until about the last 15 minutes before slathering it on (if you’ve marinated your meat in advance, just blot it with a paper towel before placing it on the grill). Since sugar and oil will cause lots of flames and char the food, plan to reduce the heat a bit after you add the sauce.

Allow more cooking time on cold or windy days or at higher altitudes, and less time in extremely hot weather.

Once you put the food on the grate, allow it to cook a bit before any turning. Your food needs about 10 minutes of cooking time for its surface to cook enough to release from the grill easily without sticking and tearing.

Always use a spatula or tongs when you handle the meat on the grill. Using a fork to pierce meat while it is cooking will cause all the yummy juices to escape, thereby drying out your meat.

Use a meat thermometer and a timer so you know when it’s time to take food off the grill. Checking meats for internal temperatures is the best way to determine when food is properly cooked or when done is about to become overdone.

Soon after you finish cooking, use a wire brush to scrape and clean the grates—it’s so much easier to clean it up when it is still warm.

Spicy Ground beef or Bison Sliders
with Talbot Reserve Cheese and Curry Ketchup

Serves 8

grilled slidersEach of these sliders weighs about 1 ounce so the ground beef or bison goes a long and tasty way as small bites or hors d’oeuvres. I have served these at my River Dinners and at a local cooking class because everyone loves a great burger. I topped each slider with a rich, cave-aged cheddar from Chapel Country Creamery in Easton, Maryland. You can garnish and build these sliders as you wish… adding to the bread or letting your guests add their own toppings, such as sliced onions, pickles, and lettuce or arugula. It’s a good idea to make the curry ketchup in advance and keep it refrigerated.

For the sliders:
• 12 ounces ground beef or bison
• Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
• 1 ciabatta loaf of bread, sliced horizontally, but not through, to open like a book
• Freshly grated Talbot Reserve or other full-flavor aged cheddar cheese, room temperature

Heat the grill to medium-high.

Place the beef or bison in a bowl and add salt and pepper, stirring briefly with a fork. Form the meat into 2 rectangular burgers, ¾-inch thick, so they fit neatly onto the bread.

Grease the grill rack and add the burgers without crowding. Grill on one side until nicely browned, then turn and brown the other side, making sure that the burgers remain rare and juicy. While the second side browns, top the burgers with the cheese to allow it to melt. Place the opened ciabatta bread on the grill until just golden and warm. Then, while still warm, spread one side liberally with curry ketchup.

Remove the burgers to a cutting board and let rest for a moment. Lay the open ciabatta on the cutting board. Place each burger on the bottom half of the bread. Close the bread firmly and cut crosswise into 2-inch thick slices. A toothpick in each slice holds it all together and makes it easy to pick up.

For the curry ketchup:
• 1 12-ounce bottle chile sauce
• 1/3 cup sweet onion, finely chopped
• 1 teaspoon curry powder
• 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

Combine all.

With over three decades in the food, media production, marketing & public relations fields, Rita Calvert has created myriad programs, events, cooking sessions on national television, the stage & The Annapolis School of Cooking. She has partnered in writing cookbooks and product lines to showcase the inspiration & nourishment of food. In her cookbook with Michael Heller, The Grassfed Gourmet Fires It Up, Rita supports the effort for Regenerative Agriculture.

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GreenGive

On Sunday, June  14, GreenGive organization members and volunteers, including Annapolis Green, followed the “Wade In” tradition started by State Senator Bernie Fowler 33 years ago in the Patuxent River by wading into Annapolis’ four creeks to assess water clarity. The waders move into the water until they can no longer see their feet or their sneakers, as an unscientific, yet easy-to-understand measure of how clear our creek waters are.

Results:

  • Back Creek (2019 measurement was 43.3”)
    • 40” at Annapolis Maritime Museum
    • 30” at Annapolis Maritime Museum’s Back Creek Nature Park
  • College Creek (2019 measurement was 39.4”)
    • 19.5” at the St. John’s College living shoreline
  • Spa Creek (2019 measurement was 19.7”)
    • 26” at Truxtun Park
  • Weems Creek (2019 measurement was 29.5”)
    • 25.5” at Dewey Dock

In summary, Back Creek clarity was about the same as last year, College Creek was half as clear, Spa Creek was more clear, and Weems Creek was slightly less clear. This year more underwater grasses are being seen in almost all of the Bay’s tributaries.

Water clarity is important because it can affect the health of underwater grasses which are a critical part of the ecology of the Bay and its tributaries. When water is murky sunlight reaching underwater grasses is reduced making it difficult or impossible for photosynthesis to happen. Bay and river water can become cloudy from excess nutrients (such as fertilizers) and sediments (soil runoff or erosion in rainstorms) which fuel algae growth. When the algae dies the decomposition reduces available oxygen in the water harming aquatic wildlife.

Senator Fowler began his informal “sneaker index” of water clarity because he was concerned about the declining health of the Patuxent and the Chesapeake Bay. When he was a boy he could see crabs scurrying under his feet at chest-high depth. Read more here. The tradition has continued throughout the Bay and its tributaries.

GreenGiveThe GreenGive is a collaborative fundraising partnership that includes ten  small environmental nonprofits that work completely or primarily in Anne Arundel County. Funds raised by the 24-hour campaign, taking place this year on July 21-22, will be used to invest in actions that have a tangible impact on our own local waterways and quality of life. Every dollar raised will be turned into projects and programs that make a difference in Anne Arundel County.

The partners are:

  • Annapolis Green
  • Arundel Rivers Federation
  • ClearShark H2O
  • Scenic Rivers Land Trust
  • Severn River Association
  • Severn Riverkeeper
  • Spa Creek Conservancy
  • Luke’s Restoration of Nature
  • Unity Gardens
  • Watershed Stewards Academy

Read more about the GreenGive here: https://greengive.org.

man wading into Back Creek
Steve Adams wades into Back Creek at the Annapolis Maritime Museum beach where the water clarity allowed him to see his feet at a depth of 40 inches.
woman wading into Spa Creek
Amy Clements of Spa Creek Conservancy waded into Spa Creek at Truxtun Park to 26 inches before she could no longer see her feet.
man wading into Back Creek
Chris “Goose” Norman wades 30 inches into Back Creek at the Annapolis Maritime Museum’s Back Creek Nature Park, social distancing with his mask.
woman wading into College Creek
Elvia Thompson of Annapolis Green could not see her feet any deeper than 19.5 inches in College Creek at St. John’s College’s living shoreline.

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tesla model s

by Cory Bonney

When Consumer Reports gave Tesla Model S its highest car rating ever… at 100%, and designated it the safest automobile ever made, I was completely hooked. All I needed to do was to figure out a way to own one.

I started driving during the gas crisis of the 1970s, taking my place in mile-long lines on hot, humid August days in Northern Virginia. The whole experience must have had a huge impact on me in that I never truly recognized nor did I ever really recover from it.

The first relatively high-production electric car to come out in my lifetime was the Nissan Leaf. My wife, daughter, and I participated in an agonizing appointment that was put on nationwide by Nissan. Most people at the time, and those in the crowd who accompanied us during this particular test drive, were really concerned about running out of battery… charge anxiety, we were all calling it. After all, the first Leaf only carried a 100 mile charge. But there was an interesting exchange during the build-up to actually getting behind the wheel of that Leaf.

The Nissan representative, standing in front of a pretty good sized group of interested electric car drivers, asked for a show of hands as he asked, “How many people commute more than 50 miles to work?” Quite literally and quite honestly, two hands out of about 40 people went up. It was a great marketing approach, and the hook for going electric was set. This would be the kind of car that I would be excited to drive in the very near future.

Other all electrics, higher mileage hybrids, gas charging hybrids, and plug-in hybrids started coming on the scene, and among them, of course, was the all-electric Tesla. Soon after came the Consumer Reports ratings… and then, rather shockingly, the price tag. Model S was first, and with the base price of $75 to $85 thousand; but that was before installing any seats. Joking.

Once you added just a few things, a new Tesla was $90 to over $100 thousand. It was so far out of my league; and quite frankly, to my way of thinking, a ridiculous amount to pay for any kind of personal transportation, even considering how much I absolutely came to love the car.

Early in their history of car sales, Tesla Corporate had a program of allowing trade-ins of Tesla cars on a new purchase. Even as I am recording my experience, the company does a horrible job of promoting the fact that these high quality, much lower cost products are available. I do not exactly remember how I found out about resale cars that are put through a 70-point computer evaluation. And if necessary, they recondition their own vehicles. However, somewhere along my path, which included hanging out with my friend Elvia Thompson (our number one green guru here in Annapolis), I started going to electric car events, installed three Tesla brand chargers at my business and hosted Tesla car owners on site. Conversations led me to the fact that these used Teslas existed. I wondered if this could be the path to ownership for me.

A few years ago, there were websites that were not affiliated with Tesla that had dozens and dozens of used models available; but research revealed that while some of these vehicles could be “as advertised,” they did not carry the same 70-point inspection nor the extended warranties. Additionally, any one of these non-Tesla certified cars could have been in an accident and may have been astutely repaired, masking a host of electronic problems that could surface down the road.

Tesla was only beginning to web host its own well maintained and certified used cars when I began seriously thinking that I could and would want to afford one. I was seeing great looking cars with significant mileage and fewer upgrades in the $40,000 range. After watching the inventory come and go from the site, I strategized my own way of evaluating what features I had to have and which were unnecessary. I also was heavily focused on mileage. Interestingly, most of the cars had less than 50,000 miles. So consumers were buying the new cars, and fairly quickly turning them in for the next best new thing… a Tesla with a longer range battery and more features.

I don’t know how much has changed in over two years since we bought our Model S, but initially, you were buying a virtual car. Ours was in Connecticut where we found this silver car with less than 20,000 miles. There were dozens of photos of the car, taken in some sort of show room. Every angle was covered, and they showed everything, door dings, wheel cover curb scrapes, a scratch here or there (if applicable). And the customer put down a deposit based on never actually having seen and touched the car. It was a 2015 model year, two years old and was as exciting as… well, many other firsts.

man with Tesla
Cory Bonney with his Tesla Model S, charging at his Bed & Breakfast

Taking possession of your new (or used) Tesla is akin to what it must be like to walk the “red carpet” in Hollywood. The new owner is the star of the show, and the anticipation builds until the proverbial curtain is pulled back to premiere your vehicle. More than two years later, our car is the best, most exciting, trouble free automobile we have ever owned.

We now have 40,000 miles on the car, doubling the miles that our car started with. With no tune ups required, no oil to change, no topping off of the radiator, no timing belt to wear out, no water pump to replace… well, you get the basic idea. Virtually and literally it is trouble free. Nothing is perfect of course. We have had four minor repairs (free, because the car is still under full warranty).

For three of the repairs, a mobile unit comes to the house and completes the work in your driveway or garage. On the in-shop repair, which included new tires (we paid for the tires), we were given a $250 Uber voucher to use at our discretion. The repair went longer than planned (tires out of stock) and without so much as a minor hassle, they automatically added another $200 to the voucher to cover any other inconvenience.

We love this car, and there is no going back. Electric is simply the future. Whether you want to afford a new version or save a few dollars and purchase one used like ours, embrace the future of nearly perfect transportation.

Editor’s note: Read more about driving electric here.

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earth from outer space

50th Earth Day calls for a new, better normal

by Elvia Thompson and Suzanne Kilby Etgen

As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, it’s clear that the struggle to restore our environment — to heal the Chesapeake Bay — is not unlike the struggle we have faced for the last six weeks. The entire world has been affected by the pandemic, just as the whole world is affected by climate change.

Locally, we are all especially affected by pollution in the air and in our waters. Only by working together will we restore and protect the environment that nurtures us. The pandemic has taught us that lesson.

For the past six weeks, we have worked together to flatten the curve. We’ve each done our part — some working at home, “teaming and zooming,” helping our children learn remotely, and forgoing in-person social events.

Simultaneously, some of us face real danger on the front lines in our hospitals, grocery stores and other essential businesses. There is real suffering, not only from the virus but also from loss of income.

We have put aside our own wants, our own needs, and even our own safety, for the health of people we cannot see or will never know, as much as for those we hold dear. Because of this we are making progress.

During this time, the natural world has become a refuge. We are spending more time in our backyards, visiting local parks, and walking through our neighborhoods. Many of us are gardening and adding vegetables to our landscape. Sheltering in place gives us the opportunity to observe the natural world waking up in the miracle of spring, a miracle that happens each year, whether we are watching or not.

As we’ve noticed these new things, we are reminded that nature is an integral part of our lives. It’s a lesson from the pandemic.

Healing our environment takes all of us, not just those working on environmental issues, but every person. In the 2017 Citizen Stewardship Indicator Survey, 87 percent of Anne Arundel County residents believed that we can clean up our local rivers and streams if we work together.

We agree, and there is scientific evidence to back that up!

In the last five years, residents, watershed organizations and local governments have teamed up to install a record number of restoration projects and water clarity, bay grasses and blue crabs have all begun to rebound. Yet, in that same survey, less than 40 percent of residents believed their actions contribute to local water pollution. The pandemic teaches us that individual actions matter.

That’s the message of this Earth Day — more relevant, more powerful, more comforting than ever. A clean environment is critical — our very breath depends on clean air, our life depends on clean water. Our economy, our food, and our health depend on a clean environment. A clean environment is within our reach because our actions matter.

We want to “get back to normal,” but we know that normal will never be the same. Instead, what we need is a Better Normal – a way of life that has, at its core, respect for science, understanding of the interdependence of all life, and commitment to work together in good times and bad.

In a better normal, we all do our part. We join our local environmental organizations — the ones that work in our neighborhood, city, or county. And we join regional and national organizations that address broader environmental issues.

We make small changes that make a difference in our own homes… we plant trees, reduce throw-away plastic, drive no-emissions electric cars, say no to toxic pesticides, grow vegetables and native plants to feed the pollinators. We teach our kids that our collective efforts matter.

Go outside today. Let the sun warm your face. Feel the wind. Smell the Earth waking up. Trust the science and your neighbors. Know that your actions matter. Let’s build a Better Normal together.

Published in the Capital Gazette, April 22, 2020.
Suzanne Kilby Etgen is the director of the Anne Arundel Watershed Stewards Academy.
Elvia Thompson is the president and co-founder of Annapolis Green.

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