All Welcome at the Community Feast!

Share

 

Brandon, David Ryan (pastor both First United Methodist Church & Christ United Methodist Church), Cheryl Hoopes (coordinator for the weekly dinners)

Have you been to the Monday Community Dinner at First United Methodist Church in Chestertown? You’re invited. You’re missing a real treat if you haven’t been yet.  The food is quite good.  It’s all fresh and prepared that afternoon by community volunteers. And it’s free, yes, that’s right, free – though donations are accepted.

The church is the big red brick one on the hill with white trim and columns and a tall steeple.  There’s lots of convenient parking on Park, Mill, or Calvert Streets.  Use the side entrance to the church and come down the stairs to the basement.  Tables will be already setup with napkins and silverware.  They use real plates and utensils – no paper unless you request one of the take-out boxes, which are recyclable.  Dinner is served starting at 5:30. Reservations are not needed but we recommend you get there by at least 6 p.m. to avoid having any of your favorite items run out.

First United Church – facing High St. on the corner of Mill Street.   For the community dinner go in the side door on Mill St. then down stairs on the right

Begun by the Rev. David Ryan in September 2016, the Monday dinners regularly serve between 75 and 100 community members, most of them regulars. The cafeteria-style meals feature a generous choice of main courses, desserts, and beverages. There is a dinner every Monday, even if it’s a holiday, Ryan said.

The church kitchen is spacious and Spic-and-Span clean.

Voluntary donations help support the meal, which Ryan estimates costs $2 to $3 a serving. Even many of the low-income diners chip in a dollar or two, while others sometimes donate as much as they’d pay in a restaurant. And the “customers” represent all ages and income levels. Ryan said the donations jar typically yields $75-150 toward the cost of the meal.

150 ears of “cooler corn” with a crockpot of melted butter to dip them in. Picked that day and donated by Redman Farms

Much of the food is donated to the church from local farms and gardens, restaurants, and grocery stores. The first time we went, J.R.’s Lemon Leaf Café provided mashed potatoes while some of the vegetables came from the Kent County Middle School garden, and Redman Farms had donated 150 ears of corn on the cob.

The corn, by the way, was “cooler corn.”  We had seen coolers full of corn at picnics and reunions before but had never realized it had a recipe.  We just thought that corn was cooked in the regular way on the stove then put in the cooler.  But no, it turns out you cook the corn right in the cooler!  Who knew?  You just fill a clean hard-sided cooler (no styrofoam, please) with corn.  Pour in boiling water.  Close the cooler.  Load it in the car.  By the time you get to the party, the corn is ready. And the cooler will keep it warm for hours.  A quick Google search will reveal lots of recipes, reviews, and discussions of cooler corn.  Ours was delicious!

During the school year, the Washington College dining hall donates surplus food. Restaurants and schools often donate food that was prepared but not served.  In most cases, the food would have been thrown out if not for the church dinner.  College students also help with the preparation and serving when classes are in session. Emmanuel Episcopal Church and the Presbyterian Church of Chestertown also help with preparation, especially when Pastor Ryan is out of town. Other volunteers set tables, work the cafeteria-style serving line, wash dishes, and make sure everything runs smoothly.  All were clearly having a good time.

This family had four generations with them at the dinner.

David Ryan, pastor of the two Methodist churches, cooks and helps with cleanup, too.

Preparation begins early in the afternoon, around 1:00 pm when Pastor Ryan and parishioner Cheryl Hoopes arrive.  They begin the prep and setup, see what is in the pantry and do all the other things included in planning and preparing a dinner for a hundred people.  Ryan joins in the cooking. Cheryl Hoopes, who coordinates volunteers, said that Ryan’s previous parish also had a regular dinner, but the church women wouldn’t allow him to help with the cooking. One of the reasons he started one in Chestertown was so he could get in the kitchen!  And he’s a good cook.  Just ask his wife!

Recent menus have included roast pork, stuffed peppers, corn on the cob, sauerkraut, mixed vegetables, mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, applesauce, with a selection of cookies, cupcakes, and pies for dessert. Beverages included water and iced tea.

There is a  long dessert table each week.  And next to the dessert table is the take-home table with bread and vegetables and other items that anyone may pick up as you leave.  Some are from people’s gardens; others are items near their expiration dates donated by groceries or bakeries. If you prefer, you can get your meal in a recyclable take away box. The recyclable boxes, Ryan said, are a little more expensive than the more common styrofoam boxes, but he felt that being environmentally responsible was more important than saving a few cents. Only a few people opt to just get a takeaway box and leave right away.  Some eat at the church then fill up a box for a family member at home.

While many people sit with friends or family members — there are three- and four-generation families who come regularly — it’s also a good place to make new acquaintances. One volunteer brings his four grandchildren – all under the age of 10 – and the kids help on the clean-up crew. Ryan said the dinner has been an opportunity to meet many people who aren’t members of his congregation, including many from the immediate neighborhood of the church. Now many of them stop and talk to him on the street.

Come and join in.  Any Monday at 5:30 pm.  Perhaps you’ll become a regular or a volunteer, too.  Tell ’em the Spy sent you!

Photos by Peter Heck and Jane Jewell

                                                                         Some of the “regulars.”

Cans bought or donated and ready to go.

Cupboards and drawers are all carefully labeled.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Take-Home Tables

Take-Home Table – Vegetables, often grown in local gardens and assorted other food items often donated by local groceries and bakeries.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Help Save the Bay at Chesapeake College’s Bay Fest 2017

Share

Committed to saving the Bay?

Come to Chesapeake College, 1000 College Circle, Wye Mills, from 4 to 9 p.m. July 22 and be a part of the 2017 Bay Fest, a one-night event to raise awareness and educate the public on ways to support a clean and healthy Chesapeake Bay. Admission is free, and the event will take place rain or shine. Refreshments will be available.

Chesapeake College’s resident theatrical group, The Peake Players, will present environmentally-themed stories including comic sketches about oysters, otters, mermaids, and a special hospital for fish.

The Peake Players are committed to creating performances that reflect Maryland’s unique local cultures and serve the needs of Maryland’s communities. They are directed by Dr. Robert C. Thompson, a professional director and playwright who has staged work in major cities in the US, Canada, Scotland, and China.

There will also be live music by lAmpersand, a string band based out of Annapolis.

If you’re in the mood for games, there’ll be  a death-defying obstacle course, crazy difficult duck pond, even crazier fishing pond, and corn hole. Or you can learn how to protect the bay from dangerous run-off on the thrilling drainage tour!

Crafts on display will include a trash mosaic, face painting, and oyster shell painting. There will also be an art exhibit featuring crabs, watermen, and muskrats all by local students and artists.

Bay Fest 2017 is sponsored by The Chesapeake Bay Foundation, The Riverkeepers Association and Chesapeake College.

For more information or to volunteer, visit facebook.com/chesapeaketheatre or email rthompson@chesapeake.edu.

Inside the Sprout Kitchen: The Milkman Cometh

Share

Editor’s Note: The Spy is pleased to continue our special food coverage by partnering with Sprout’s Kitchen on a series of educational programs related to food and the special backstories of  their ingredients and partnership with local producers. Sprouts’ owners, Emily and Ryan Groll, the two entrepreneurs behind the Mid-Shore’s innovative food delivery service using locally sourced products, have strong opinions and experience in what makes food so special.

First up for Sprout’s Kitchen when they started a year ago was finding the right milk guy. For most culinary enterprises the need to purchase milk is simply a matter of checking off how many gallons they need on their food distributors order forms. In most cases, they have no idea where that milk comes from, what the conditions of of dairy farm is or how well the animals are treated.

That was not good enough for Sprout’s Kitchen. Owners Emily and Ryan Groll, had made it part of their mission to find and develop a long-term relationship with a local farm who shared their high standards for their milk, yogurt and butter. That’s when Nice Farms Creamery came into the picture.

Located a few miles from Federalsburg, Nice Farms is now on its third generation of family farmers who have bred their 40 dairy cows specifically for grazing. maintain annual and perennial pastures, supplementing the cows diet with quality hay, hydroponic fodder, and almost zero grain.

This video is approximately two minutes in length. For information about the Sprout’s Kitchen and their meal plans please go here

 

The All Seasons Garden Club Show on May 23

Share

The All Seasons Garden Club (ASGC) will hold its biennial flower show on Tuesday, May 23, 2017, from noon until 3:00 PM in Wesley Hall of the Heron Point Retirement Community, 501 East Campus Avenue, Chestertown.  Attendance is free and open to the public.

2015 Blue Ribbon-winning entry, Best in Show, “Mothers Day” arrangement by Holly Boulanger.

The theme for the 2017 show is America the Beautiful.  Floral arrangements in five Design Classes will be presented. Each entry will satisfy rules of a specific design category and reflect one of the following lines chosen from the popular and patriotic anthem:  “For Spacious Skies”; “For Purple Mountain Majesties”;  “Above the Fruited Plain”; “From Sea to Shining Sea”; and “For Patriot Dream”.

In addition to the five Design Classes, there will be entries in as many as eighteen Horticultural Classes, which include dish gardens; window boxes; terraria; as well as individuals specimens of bulbs, evergreens, Columbine, Hosta, Lily, Peony, Rose, Iris, Baptisia, and Sedum.

The All Seasons Garden Club was organized in 1985 and draws most of its members from Kent and Queen Anne’s counties. The ASGC is pleased to have its 2017 show open to participation by members of garden clubs in the two county area.

Flyers describing the Design Classes for the show as well as other aspects of the judging are available by emailing Frank Creegan at fcreegan2@washcoll.edu.

Chestertown’s “Taste of the Town” Celebrates 10th Anniversary

Share

Taste of the Town celebrated its 10th anniversary on May 7.  From noon to 3:00 pm, Fountain Park was filled with guests enjoying samples from 18 local vendors.  There were food and drinks from an even dozen restaurants plus four wineries and one brewery.  This is the first year that the vineyards and brewery participated – a welcome addition to a popular Chestertown tradition.

Co-chairs Tara Holste and Andy Goddard did a great job organizing the event.  About 250 people from all over the region filled the tent in Fountain Park.   The tent even had a large sunlight section in its roof. Attendees voted for their favorites in three categories:

Attendees voted for their favorites in three categories: Most Creative – Best Use of Local Ingredients – Most Flavorful.  Ballots are currently being tabulated.  So stay tuned for the results of these People’s Choice awards.

The Whistle Stop Winery was one of five wineries at the event.  Also present were the Clovelly Vineyards, Crow Vineyard & Winery, Dove Valley Winery, and Olney Winery.  Beer lovers got to sample the wares from the Bull and Goat Brewery.

Lockbriar Farms ice cream was very popular!

Fish Whistle – Jeff Carroll and one of his cooks prepare Clovelly Beef Sliders.

Participating restaurants were Barbara’s On the Bay, Chester River Yacht & Country Club, Evergrain Bakery, Figg’s Ordinary, Fish Whistle, The Kitchen at the Imperial, Lemon Leaf Cafe, Little Village Bakery, Lockbriar Farms, Luisa’s Cucina Italiana, O’Connor’s Irish Pub and Procollino’s Italian Eatery. Serving wines were Clovelly Vineyards, Crow Vineyard & Winery, Dove Valley Winery, Olney Winery and Whistle Stop Winery. Beer drinkers could sample the products of Bull & Goat Brewery.

Figg’s Ordinary serves gluten-free goodies – flatbread with assorted toppings.

There were over 20 raffle prizes that covered a wide range of items, including gift certificates to many restaurants and local stores, two tickets to any Garfield Center for the Arts production, a hanging basket from Unity Church Hill Nursery, and a jar of goodies from Gabriel’s of Chestertown.

Taste of the Town is presented by the Downtown Chestertown Association with the help of many volunteers and generous sponsors.  Tech support was provided by Butch Clark. For more information see Taste of Chestertown,   Downtown Chestertown Association (DCA),  Chestertown.com

Queen Anne’s County Master Gardeners Announce Bay-Wise Landscape Consultations

Share

Homes on the Eastern Shore are within a half mile of a stream or other waterway flowing into the Chesapeake Bay. Creating an attractive yard is important to all of us, but how we do it can make a huge difference in property value and environmental impact. We all contribute–knowingly or unknowingly—to run-off, seepage, and airborne pollutants that affect the health of the Bay. Critical awareness of the environmental effect of our landscape choices and practices underlies the University of Maryland Extension Bay-Wise Master Gardener program.

pictured L-R: Master Gardener Jane Smith, Master Gardener Cindy Riegel, homeowner Laura Rocco, Master Gardener Betty McAtee, and Master Gardener Joyce Anderson.

The Queen Anne’s County Master Gardeners’ Bay-Wise program kicks off the 2017 season of Bay-Wise landscape consultations. Master Gardeners, are volunteers who are trained by the University of Maryland Extension, will come to your home or business to evaluate your property. They can answer landscape and gardening questions and offer advice on sound environmental practices. This is a free service sponsored through the University of Maryland’s Extension office. Home owners and businesses are encouraged to schedule a consultation.

Call or email the University of Maryland Extension Queen Anne’s County Master Gardener Coordinator, Rachel Rhodes, at 410-758-0166 or rjrhodes@umd.edu to initiate a consultation on your property. A Bay-Wise trained Master Gardener will then contact you to arrange a convenient date and time to meet with you at your property. A consultation usually takes about one to two hours, depending on the size and complexity of your yard. Consultations focus on practices of healthy lawn maintenance, storm water management, insect and disease control, composting waste, and selecting native plants and trees that enhance your property with minimum upkeep.  You are welcome to request advice about flower, fruit, and vegetable beds that beautify your yard and provide friendly habitat for wildlife like songbirds, butterflies, bees, and humming birds.

Complimentary Bay-Wise signs are given homeowners and businesses that demonstrate sound Bay-Wise practices. The University of Maryland Extension Master Gardeners hope to reach even more homeowners this season. Advice on improving your landscape, while helping the environment and saving time and money, is only a phone call away.  For further information on the Bay-Wise Program and other environmentally sound practices, please visit www.extension.umd.edu/baywise or see us on Facebook @ https://www.facebook.com/QueenAnnesCountyMasterGardeners

University of Maryland Extension programs are open to all people and will not discriminate against anyone because of race, age, sex, color, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability, religion, ancestry, or national origin, marital status, genetic information, or political affiliation, or gender identity and expression.

Ecosystem: Through Gaian-Colored Lenses by Leigh Glenn

Share

No matter the season, life always seems to want more life, especially as we observe it in other species. The beautyberry in our front yard outside Annapolis is one example. It appears dormant late into spring, even after a good pruning. By mid to late summer, it’s magenta berries, bright against brilliant green leaves, are a wonder to behold. Through winter, robins and cedar waxwings balance, sometimes precariously, on its stems and devour the dried berries. And then before I know it, it’s time to prune again.

All species cycle through birth-death-rebirth as they work to sustain themselves, reproduce and rest. In contrast, human technologies and cultural artifacts — from language to money — have erected a barrier between us and these cycles and the systems they represent. But the barrier is an illusion. Our lives depend upon the consistent functioning of these systems. What will it take for us to respect these cycles and behave as part of these systems? To appreciate our powers of observation and our creativity, to cultivate our innate biophilia?

I felt relieved last month when Maryland legislators and Gov. Larry Hogan supported the ban on the unconventional gas extraction method known as fracking, short for hydrofracturing. My fellow Marylanders out west, who stood to make money off gas leases, were not wrong for wanting to do so. But like all of us in a variety of ways, they still operate under a dying story — the story of infinite growth, in which we constantly trade the living (the natural world) for the dead (money).

If I have any worldview, it’s a Gaian one. The Gaia Theory, now Gaia Paradigm, was developed by NASA researcher and chemist James Lovelock and co-developed by the late microbiologist Lynn Margulis. The science of Gaia demonstrates that Earth is a self-regulating, complex, non-linear, emergent system — emergent in the philosophical definition of the word, describing a property that is more than a sum of its parts. No single entity coordinates the multiple actions required to maintain homeostasis that is conducive to life on this planet. The emergent property of homeostasis cannot be reduced to the aspects that created it and now sustain it. More simply, Gaia reaffirms what many indigenous people have long understood — everything is connected.

Today, humans are the wild card in this system because of the enormous scales at which we operate — from fracking, which is spreading around the globe, to our vast factory farms, from our dams to the huge amounts of waste we all generate. We’re at a crossroads: The story of infinite growth is collapsing under the weight of living realities. It’s time for a new story — one rooted in the principles of earth systems science, Gaian science.

“The motivating story of ‘growth for growth’s sake’ is a losing proposition for humanity,” says Martin Ogle, former chief naturalist for the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority and founder of Entrepreneurial Earth, LLC, based in Colorado. “We need a completely new underlying story,” says this long-time proponent of the Gaia Paradigm, “[a story] that reflects that we are a seamless continuum of Earth’s living system, not disconnected beings on a rock transforming that rock to our satisfaction.”

But what does this new story require?

For starters, we need to understand the story we’re outgrowing, which portrays each of us as a discrete being, separate from everything else and acting only in our own interest. The idea that we’re separate is what allows us to frack, to decapitate mountains hundreds of millions of years old, to clear-cut communities of trees, to spray herbicides and pesticides without thought.

We also need to vigorously examine our core fears: fear of abandonment, of not having “enough,” of death. In trying to outrun these fears rather than work with them, we often create more of the same — more comparing ourselves with others, questioning whether we are “good enough,” and continuing to live small instead of realizing that each of us, just like snowflakes, clover leaves and redbud blossoms, is unique. We each have something to offer that is beyond ourselves and beyond our wildest dreams — if we permit ourselves to dream and not act according to some old script.

Our converging calamities confirm that we are connected to what brought us to life and sustains us. We share DNA with myriad others and many of the building blocks of our physical selves are the same elements that make up Earth. When we intervene in those systems, modify them to suit our purposes, we deprive ourselves of access to clean air, clean water and healthy soils. But the harms go beyond the physical, whether we want to admit it or not. Our biophilia — our innate love of life, of living things — takes a direct beating and can easily lead to despair. Then we reach for distractions that keep the infinite-growth story in place.

If the Gaia Paradigm is to be read closely, yet metaphorically, then fracking is like drilling a hole in one’s body and injecting chemicals. How long and how much of that could a body sustain before getting sick and dying? Earth is vast, but it’s not immune to our perturbations. We humans need to mature. Our continued existence depends upon our growing up.

Which leads me to this: The new story can be a beautiful one — abundant, fulfilling, allowing us to grow into our best selves. How do we see ourselves in this story? In truly accepting that we are an aspect of Gaia — that there is expansion, not diminishment, in this — and in working with our fears, what great things might we achieve?

We may need look only as far as our front yard for ideas. When pruning the beautyberry recently, I found a welcome oddity: A side stem had broken during the winter, but stayed connected to the shrub. It had coppiced itself, taking root in the narrow mulch path next to the plant. How might we coppice the best of ourselves?

Leigh Glenn is a freelance writer, hooking artist, permaculture practitioner and herbalist based in Annapolis, MD.

Permaculture Profits: Integrating Specialty Crop Production & Livestock Management

Share

Future Harvest CASA in partnership with the Eastern Shore Resource Conservation & Development Council is offering an on-farm education day on April 28th, 10:00 am to 2:00 pm.

Join us at Perennial Roots Farm, 23345 Decormis Street, Accomac, Virginia, to learn about permaculture, specialty crop production, and integrated pasture management. Owners Stewart Lundy and Natalie McGill will share their experience raising vegetables, flowers, eggs, and meat for local markets. VSU Extension Agent Patrick Johnson will discuss his research utilizing permaculture in intensive vegetable production. We will also offer an optional hands-on barrel composting workshop. Be prepared for hands-on work with gloves and muck boots. The educational program will be followed by a potluck lunch.

Tickets are $10 for FHCASA members and $15 for non-members. Register online at prfieldday.eventbrite.com or by contacting Niamh Shortt at niamh@futureharvestcasa.org. For scholarship information, contact Josephine: 757-710-7266.

Adkins Arboretum Announces Spring Open House, Native Plant Sale

Share

Adkins Arboretum, offering the Chesapeake gardener the largest selection of native plants for more than 20 years, announces its Spring Open House & Native Plant Sale weekend, April 28-30. The sale benefits the Arboretum’s education programs and affords the public an opportunity to learn about the Delmarva’s native plants and their connection to a healthy Chesapeake Bay.

Plants for sale include a large variety of native perennials, ferns, vines, grasses and flowering shrubs and trees for spring planting. Native flowers and trees provide food and habitat for wildlife and make colorful additions to home landscapes, whether in a perennial border, a woodland garden or a restoration project. Tall spikes of purplish flowers grace blue wild indigo, while native honeysuckle entices hummingbirds. Cardinal flower, ferns and Joe-pye attract frogs, butterflies and dragonflies, and native azaleas present a veritable rainbow of bloom colors. Presale orders may be placed at adkinsplants.com through April 16. Simply place your order, and your plants will be ready for pick-up during the Open House weekend.

Native trumpet honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens). Photo by Kellen McCluskey.

All are invited on Fri., April 28 from 2 to 7 p.m. to shop in a fun and festive environment with live music, light fare, a silent auction, a cash wine and beer bar beginning at 4 p.m., and drawing of the winning ticket for the Arboretum’s Native Table raffle.

The Open House continues Sat. and Sun., April 29 and 30 with plant sales, music by Driven Women, guided walks, coffee, pastries for sale by Steve Konopelski of Denton’s Turnbridge Point Bed & Breakfast and much more. Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday. Following the Open House, plants will be for sale at the Visitor’s Center throughout the growing season.

The Arboretum is a participating nursery in the Marylanders Plant Trees native tree discount program. For any native tree valued at $50 or more, shoppers will receive a $25 discount. Some of the special larger trees available for this discount include birch, dogwood, redbud and magnolia.

The Arboretum gift shop will be open during the Nursery Opening Day and will offer books and nature-inspired gifts for gardeners. Members receive a 10% discount on plant, gift shop and book purchases. Members at the Contributor level ($100) and above receive a 20% discount on plants.

Adkins Arboretum is a 400-acre native garden and preserve at the headwaters of the Tuckahoe Creek in Caroline County. Open year round, the Arboretum is the region’s resource for native plants and education programs about nature, ecology and wildlife conservation gardening. For more information, visit adkinsarboretum.org or call 410-634-2847, ext. 0.