Information Session on Maryland’s Next Generation Farmland Acquisition Program

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The agricultural industry is known for having significant barriers to entry, namely the high cost of farmland and other capital needs, but a newly funded program is available to help bring about the next generation of farmers.

On Thursday, May 3rd, Eastern Shore Land Conservancy (ESLC) and the Maryland Agricultural & Resource-Based Industry Development Corporation (MARBIDCO) will be hosting a regional information session on the Next Generation Farmland Acquisition Program. This exciting state-supported program – funded for the 2nd year in a row – is designed to help qualified young and beginning farmers secure long-term access to farmland, while also effectively preserving the agricultural land from future development.

This free event is open to the public and will be held at the Talbot Free Library from 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm on May 3rd. The information session will include an overview of the new “Next Gen Program”, as well as information on how ESLC and MARBIDCO could help folks secure farmland or obtain additional financial resources to help build their agricultural businesses.

“This program really is on the cutting edge – it helps to both permanently preserve important natural resources, while also assisting qualified individuals with making their way into an industry with relatively high barriers to entry,” said ESLC Policy Manager, Josh Hastings.

The Next Gen Program, administered by MARBIDCO, has an application submission deadline of July 31, 2018 and application forms should be available by May 1st. Come hear how area organizations and agricultural lenders can help the next generation make their dream of farming into a reality. For questions, please contact Josh Hastings at jhastings@eslc.org or 410-251-5268.

Eastern Shore Land Conservancy

Eastern Shore Land Conservancy (ESLC) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit land conservation organization committed to preserving and sustaining the vibrant communities of the Eastern Shore and the lands and waters that connect them. More at www.eslc.org.

Former Riverkeeper Tom Leigh to Help Eastern Shore Localities

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Tom Leigh, a former local Riverkeeper and Chesapeake Bay Trust program director, has been hired as a clean water expert to counsel multiple Eastern Shore localities. Leigh will provide technical support to four municipalities and two counties as they reduce water pollution. Much like small churches on the Shore used to share a circuit rider preacher, the localities will share Leigh’s expertise on cleaning up local creeks.

Leigh’s position is being funded through a grant from the Chesapeake Bay Program’s Innovative Nutrient and Sediment Reduction grants program, as well as matching funds from the six localities and the Maryland Department of the Environment. The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) spearheaded the creation of the position, and applied for the grant. Leigh technically will be an employee of CBF during the three-year grant period, but he will directly support the six localities in their efforts to reduce water pollution, and clean up local creeks, rivers and the Chesapeake Bay.

“This is an exciting beginning of a new model for cooperation and cost savings in cleaning up Eastern Shore water,” said Alan Girard, director of the CBF Eastern Shore Office.

The new position to be occupied by Leigh is one part of a wider collaboration between the localities to reduce polluted runoff from streets, parking lots, and other hard surfaces. This is the only major source of water pollution that is rising in Maryland. Finding ways to reduce runoff once a landscape is developed is challenging. The six localities decided that sharing resources to address this problem is more efficient and effective. The collaborative was born from a series of discussions hosted by local officials and partners called the Healthy Waters Round Table.

The six localities are Talbot and Queen Anne’s counties, and the municipalities of Easton, Salisbury, Oxford and Cambridge.

Leigh was a natural choice to serve as a shared expert by the localities. He formerly held positions as a water quality advocate with the Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy and the Chester River Association. He also worked as the director of programs and partnerships for the Chesapeake Bay Trust, managing a significant portion of the organization’s grant portfolio. Leigh served as an independent contractor for the University of Maryland Center for Agro-Ecology in Queenstown where he developed a compendium of pollution-reduction practices for local governments, organizations and private landowners. Earlier in his career, Leigh also was a project manager for Environmental Concern, Inc. in St. Michaels. He has lived most of his life on the Eastern Shore.

“With Tom’s leadership, CBF will work seamlessly with our partner counties and towns on Maryland’s Eastern Shore to plan, prioritize, and streamline projects that control polluted runoff,” Girard said. “Tom also will leverage new resources. Our goal is to clean our water faster, and to test a model for locally-shared technical service that can be replicated throughout Maryland and beyond.”

This work is made possible by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Chesapeake Bay Program’s Innovative Nutrient and Sediment Reduction grants program, which supports efforts within the Chesapeake Bay watershed to accelerate nutrient and sediment reductions with innovative, sustainable, and cost-effective approaches.

ShoreRivers Needs Some Help: Development and Event Coordinator Position Available

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ShoreRivers seeks a Development and Event Coordinator to join their team and help fulfill our mission to protect and restore our rivers and the living resources they support. The ideal candidate will be an energetic, outgoing individual who is organized, detail oriented, and enthusiastic about the environment and the communities they serve. The position is located in our Easton, Maryland office at the Eastern Shore Conservation Center.

ShoreRivers seeks to protect and restore Eastern Shore waterways through science-based advocacy, restoration, and education. We work collaboratively with our community yet maintain an uncompromising voice for clean rivers and the living resources they support.

We have a dedicated staff of educators, scientists, restoration specialists, and advocates focused on policies and projects that will improve the health of our rivers. Our staff includes four Waterkeepers who regularly patrol and monitor our waters and serve as key spokespersons: Chester Riverkeeper, Choptank Riverkeeper, Miles-Wye Riverkeeper, and Sassafras Riverkeeper. Our Waterkeepers and staff are a strong, collective voice for Eastern Shore waterways.

ShoreRivers was created in 2017 when the Chester River Association, Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy, and Sassafras River Association merged. We have more than 3,500 members and supporters across the Eastern Shore who help us achieve our vision of healthy waterways.

For more information please click here

Chestertown Celebrates Earth Day with Festival & Electric Vehicle Display

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Celebrate our planet and sustainability on Saturday, April 21 at the 8th Annual Earth Day Festival in Downtown Chestertown’s Memorial Plaza from 9 am to 1 pm.

This family friendly event, co-sponsored by the Town of Chestertown and Washington College Center for Environment and Society, features an array of eco-friendly goods, services, solar energy contractors, energy auditors, and conservation organizations. Learn about growing local foods, native plants, and living sustainably with the environment.

Recycle your batteries, CFL and fluorescent bulbs courtesy of Hanleyman Services. Free paper shredding will also be available on site from 10 am to noon.

Infinity Recycling returns with their popular “guess the weight” bales of crushed cans, plastic bottles and paper. Gift certificates will be awarded to those guessing the closest weight.

In addition, RiverArts is sponsoring a Recycled Art Contest open to all ages as part of the annual Earth Day celebration.  Media used must be composed of a minimum of 50% recycled materials; the bulk of the material used must be material that would be discarded were it not repurposed.  Each artist may submit up to four pieces, executed in any medium. Visit chestertownriverarts.org and click on KidSPOT for more info, or call 410 778 6300.

Judging and prizes will be awarded at the festival. Applications are available at RiverArts, 215 High Street, Suite 106, in the breezeway in downtown Chestertown, or call 410 778 6300. They must be received no later than April 18.

Other family friendly activities include face painting, a bounce house and live music. The Mt. Olive Church will have fried fish, shrimp  and other festival food, or grab something to eat at the farmers’ market or one of the locally run downtown cafes and restaurants. For information on sponsoring the event or vendor participation, please call Jon at 410 708 8951 or Andy at 443 480 1987.

CBEC to host Mid-Eastern Shore Volunteer Fair April 19

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A group of nonprofit organizations on the mid-shore have teamed up to organize the first-ever volunteer fair scheduled for Thursday, April 19 from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center, 600 Discovery Lane in Grasonville. This is a free event and open to the public.

The volunteer fair will be held in conjunction with National Volunteer Week, as an effort to encourage people to lend their time, talent, voice and support to causes they care about in their community. Attendees will enjoy live music, refreshments and the opportunity to connect, one-on-one, with nonprofit organizations that represent diverse community services on the mid-shore.

Throughout the event, each participating organization will have an opportunity for a “pop-up” presentation to briefly explain their mission and its impact on the community, in addition to sharing what volunteer opportunities are available.

“We are seeing an increase in volunteer needs from organizations across the mid-shore, fueling our desire to collaborate with one another,” said Courtney Williams, manager of volunteer and professional services, Compass Regional Hospice. “Our hope is to share the missions of our organizations with the public and meet people who are also passionate about the work that we do.”

Julia Schultz, guest services coordinator, Pecometh Camp and Retreat Ministries, adds “This is a great chance for individuals to meet with local organizations and learn about the many ways they can use their skill sets to make a difference in their own community.”

Participating organizations include Character Counts!, Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center, Compass Regional Hospice, Crossroads Community, Animal Welfare League, Haven Ministries and Pecometh Camp and Retreat Ministries and several more.

For more information or to reserve a table for your organization, free of charge, contact Courtney Leigh, volunteer and adult education coordinator, Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center, 443-262-2032, cleigh@bayrestoration.org. Volunteer coordinators interested in future networking opportunities with this collaborative group, contact Courtney Williams, manager of volunteer and professional services, Compass Regional Hospice, 443-262-4112, cwilliams@compassregionalhospice.org.

Washington College is Maryland’s First Bee Campus USA

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Washington College has become the first higher-education institution in Maryland and the 35th in the nation to be designated an affiliate of Bee Campus USA, a program designed to marshal the strengths of educational campuses for the benefit of pollinators.

“Imperiled pollinators are responsible for the reproduction of ninety percent of the world’s wild plant and tree species. Washington College is a stellar example of the influence educational institutions can have on their students and the broader community,” said Bee Campus USA Director Phyllis Stiles upon announcing WC’s affiliation. “Their talented faculty, staff, and students offer an invaluable resource for Eastern Shore residents in seeking ways to manage ornamental landscapes in more wildlife-friendly ways.”

Students celebrate the first honey harvest at the campus garden from the campus apiary’s bees.

“By studying and supporting pollinators, students are working to realign our culture with natural forces and enhance life on this planet,” said campus garden adviser Shane Brill ’03 M’11, who three years ago helped students install an apiary in the campus garden. “They can trace the path of a bee’s flight back to the energy of the sun and, in the course of that journey, reimagine our place in the world.”

Through a Beekeeping 101 course hosted each spring by the Department of Environmental Science and Studies, students examine bee anatomy, nutrition and colony behavior, and how to establish a hive. They become empowered in the role of “bee ambassadors” for the public, and they volunteer their apicultural skills in the community with the Upper Eastern Shore Beekeeping Association.

In the campus garden, students are hands-on learning not only the mechanics of beekeeping, but also the interconnected relationships between the campus bees and the plants and flowers that sustain them–and which they also sustain—in and near the garden. Last fall, for the first time, students harvested their own honey, collecting about two gallons. And, they’ve participated in pollinator workshops with local community members to further educate people about the vital roles that pollinators play in agriculture, permaculture, and plant and human health.

Beyond maintaining the campus apiary, students involved in the campus garden program implement conservation landscapes that ensure thriving populations of pollinators in a local, resilient food system. They share their research on the college website with a growing inventory of useful plants they cultivate on campus.

In its designation as a Bee Campus, Washington College has committed to minimizing hazards to pollinators by using no neonicotinoid pesticides, and almost no glyphosate herbicide or other potentially dangerous synthetic pesticides. According to Stiles, each certified campus must reapply each year and report on accomplishments from the previous year.

For more information about Washington College’s campus garden and for videos about beekeeping and honey harvest, visit https://www.washcoll.edu/about/campus/campus-garden/.

About Bee Campus USA and Bee City USA

The Bee Campus USA designation recognizes educational campuses that commit to a set of practices that support pollinators, including bees, butterflies, birds, and bats, among thousands of other species. For more information about the application process for becoming a Bee Campus USA affiliate, visit http://www.beecityusa.org/application-campus.html.

Bee City USA® urges local governments, individuals, organizations, corporations, and communities to promote and establish pollinator–friendly landscapes that are free of pesticides.  Since its inception in Asheville, North Carolina in 2012, many cities have been certified across the nation and many others are in the process of preparing applications. For more information about the application process for becoming a Bee City USA community, visit http://www.beecityusa.org/application-city.html.

About Washington College

Founded in 1782, Washington College is the tenth oldest college in the nation and the first chartered under the new Republic. It enrolls approximately 1,450 undergraduates from more than 35 states and a dozen nations. With an emphasis on hands-on, experiential learning in the arts and sciences, and more than 40 multidisciplinary areas of study, the College is home to nationally recognized academic centers in the environment, history, and writing. Learn more at washcoll.edu.

WC CES Announces Rural Energy Project with Presentation April 17

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Washington College’s Center for Environment & Society (CES) will announce a new project aimed to ensure that energy in rural areas is clean, resilient, and democratic. Grant Samms, an environmental sociologist who studies issues of rural energy resilience and conservation at CES, will give a presentation on the Rural Energy Projecton April 17 at 6:30 p.m. in Litrenta Lecture Hall, Toll Science Center. The public is welcome to attend.

“We envision rural communities that are powered through renewable and local methods, can continue to thrive despite the consequences of a changing climate, and have a voice over the energy development that happens nearby,” says Samms, coordinator of the Rural Energy Project. “Through the application of research and lessons learned from all over the world, the Rural Energy Project can help communities in Maryland transition to a new energy future.”

Through stories and case studies, Samms will explore the factors that underpin how we feel about clean energy development close to home. He will touch on questions such as how do people view clean energy development? Why do some people enjoy seeing wind and solar, and others say it just doesn’t “fit” with the community?

Grant Samms

The Rural Energy Project is dedicated to helping smaller, rural communities take advantage of a new, clean-energy world.

“While most attention is given to larger cities like New York and Boston, over a third of all Americans live in rural areas. We need everyone working together to avert climate change and create a sustainable society,” Samms says.“The Rural Energy Project helps rural communities thrive through this transition.”

The project intends to accomplish this in three ways. First, by helping rural governments analyze how much energy their municipal operations use, the project can help them find tools and resources to lower their energy costs and cut carbon emissions. Second, CES is working with an alliance of energy nonprofits to develop a new method of identifying communities that are especially vulnerable to electricity blackouts and disruptions. With this method, rural governments can work to install emergency microgrids to ensure critical infrastructure like medical and emergency response services can still operate in extreme disasters,like that recently seen in Puerto Rico.

And third, the project will use the tools of social science to research how to best approach clean energy development. When energy developers try to make changes in a community they don’t fully understand, they often encounter resistance that wastes time and resources for everyone. The Rural Energy Project’s research will help developers take a better approach toward development that gives stakeholders in communities more say over local development.

To learn more about the Center for Environment & Society or for more information on this and other events please visit www.washcoll.edu/centers/ces.

Senator Van Hollen to Speak at Inaugural ShoreRivers Event April 20

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ShoreRivers will host its annual State of the Midshore Rivers Party on Friday, April 20, 2018 at 5:00 pm. The event takes place at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum (CBMM) in Saint Michaels, Maryland and will report on the current state of the Choptank, Miles and Wye Rivers. Admission is free and open to the public. The event is sponsored by the Inn at Perry Cabin by Belmond.

This will be the first of five ShoreRivers events in April and May unveiling the results of extensive water quality monitoring. Other presentations will take place in Cambridge, Chestertown, Cecilton, and Grasonville. These events will detail the state of the Choptank, Chester, Sassafras, and Wye Rivers, depending on location. Visit ShoreRivers.org for more information.

ShoreRivers is a newly-formed entity resulting from the recent merger of Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy, Chester River Association, and Sassafras River Association into one region-wide organization. ShoreRivers is now one committed voice for Eastern Shore rivers with greater influence on policy, increased capacity to enact programs, and more potential to undertake large restoration projects.

ShoreRivers is pleased to announce that Senator Christopher Van Hollen Jr. will be the keynote speaker at the State of the Midshore Rivers Party. Van Hollen is U.S. Senator from Maryland and has worked to pass bipartisan legislation on issues of common concern, including protecting the Chesapeake Bay. He won the general election 60 to 36 percent to replace retiring Senator Barbara Mikulski in 2017. From 2003 to 2017, he held the position of U.S. Representative for Maryland’s 8th congressional district. In the House of Representatives he served as a member of the Democratic leadership and was elected by his colleagues to be the Ranking Member of the House Budget Committee and protect vital interests like Social Security and Medicare. He serves as Chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) for the 2018 elections cycle. He is a graduate of Swarthmore College, the John F. Kennedy School of Public Policy at Harvard University, and Georgetown University Law Center.

“We are thrilled and honored to have Senator Van Hollen, who has been a tough and effective environmental leader for our state and the Chesapeake Bay,” says ShoreRivers Executive Director Jeff Horstman. “His defense of clean water, his fight for renewable power and his efforts to address and combat climate change make him an ideal keynote speaker for ShoreRivers’ inaugural event.”

ShoreRivers welcomes and encourages the community to join this evening of conversation and informative discussion as it releases its 2017 Midshore Rivers Report Card. The report card reflects data collected at 115 sites by ShoreRivers scientists, Riverkeepers, and more than 50 volunteers in ShoreRivers’ Creekwatcher water quality monitoring program. This is an opportunity for the community to learn about the health and challenges of our local waterways and how the most recent grades compare to previous years. Presentations and interpretations will be given by Miles-Wye Riverkeeper Elle Bassett, Choptank Riverkeeper Matt Pluta, and Watershed Scientist Tim Rosen. ShoreRivers staff will also discuss programs being undertaken in 2018, including the new RiverWatch real-time water quality online platform.

The State of the River Party will be held in CBMM’s Small Boat Shed, where guests can discover the re-created interior of a crab‑picking plant and small, locally-built craft used around the Chesapeake Bay for fishing, oystering, and crabbing. The event will begin at 5:00 pm with fresh farmed oysters on the half shell and a cheese and wine reception. The program will follow at 5:30 pm.

For more information, contact Eleanor Nelson at eleanor@shorerivers.org or phone 443.385.0511.

ShoreRivers Seeks Volunteers for Project Clean Stream April 7

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As spring rains fill roadside ditches and flow into streams, they wash trash and debris into our waterways.Project Clean Stream, commencing on Saturday, April 7, will once again address this problem by organizing thousands of volunteers throughout the entire Chesapeake Bay watershed. ShoreRivers, partnering with the program’s main sponsor, the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, is matching volunteers with cleanup sites across the Eastern Shore, including locations in Caroline, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne’s, and Talbot Counties.

The Cambridge Main Street Green Team participates in Project Clean Stream. Photo by David Harp.

ShoreRivers seeks additional volunteers to join the largest cleanup event in the Chesapeake Region, and thanks those teams that have already pledged their support: Bill Burton State Park, Busy Beaver’s 4H Club, Cambridge Association of Neighborhoods, Cambridge Multi-Sport, Cambridge Power and Sail Squadron, Cambridge-South Dorchester High School (Mr. Roache’s classes), Caroline County Bird Club, Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, Choptank Heritage, Corsica River Conservancy, The Country School, Dorchester Citizen’s for Planned Growth, Easton High School (Mrs. Rose’s classes), Friends of the Bohemia, Girl Scouts of Easton, Habitat for Humanity Choptank, Kent County Young Professionals, Quota International of Cambridge, Saint Michaels High School (Mrs. Greer’s classes), Saints Peter and Paul High School (Mr. Leve’s classes), Salt and Stream Shoreline Cleanups, ShoreRivers members, Tidy Up Tilghman Island, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, and Unitarian Universalist Fellowship at Easton.

Individuals interested in joining a team should visit the Project Clean Stream website at pg-cloud.com/ACB/, or search “Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, Project Clean Stream” and click “volunteer.” Businesses, clubs, groups, churches, and other organizations interested in creating their own teams may contact Suzanne Sullivan at ssulivan@shorerivers.org or 443-385-0511.