Urban Gardening and Help for Hungry People/Food Deserts

A Hood College grant program was celebrated recently for tackling the problem of hunger — also called “food insecurity” — in Frederick County. The program, in its first year and housed under the Center for Coastal & Watershed Studies — seeks to link sponsors and volunteers who help plant and harvest urban gardens with the areas of the county that need them.

Connie Ray, who has coordinated the program, spoke to a recent dinner celebration of the program.

Connie Ray, Food Security Network

Facts Noted at the event:

In Frederick, even though the median income is $90,000, 8% of residents live in poverty and 40% of residents who are not in poverty struggle to provide child care, put food on the table, and pay rent (Asset Limited Income Constrained Employed-ALICE).

Emmitsburg, Libertytown, Thurmont, Brunswick and certain areas of Frederick City also fall into the ALICE category.

460 households in the City of Frederick are in what is called a food desert, a geographic area where it is difficult to find quality, fresh food.

This year, they grew 1,500 lbs. of produce that served 400 families in Frederick through their garden partners and volunteer network.

Information about Community Gardens where they are working: click here.

Frederick News Post Article on the program: click here.

A bountiful harvest in areas of Frederick County hungry for fresh produce is a goal of the Food Security Network.

The Christmas Tree Shopping dilemma

The Christmas Tree Shopping dilemma

Every year at this time we scope out whats being said about real vs. artificial Christmas trees, and while Green Frederick leans towards buying a re-plantable LOCAL real Christmas tree, there are considerations.

Take a look at Earth 911’s assessment here, with some key excerpts below:

Artificial Tree Pros:

  • Reuseability
  • Cost effectiveness

Artificial Tree Cons:

Artificial trees are typically manufactured with metal and polyvinyl chloride (PVC), a non-biodegradable, petroleum-derived plastic. In addition, many older varieties may contain lead, used as a stabilizer in the manufacturing process.

Despite their PVC contents, artificial trees are nonrecyclable and nonbiodegradable, meaning they will sit in a landfill for

An artificial tree from the authors living room.

centuries after disposal. An artificial tree will last on average five to seven years, meaning you’ll eventually have to dispose of it, and many secondhand stores will not accept them. There’s also no guarantee the LED lights will last the whole time you own it, and they can’t be removed and replaced like with a real tree.

Decorating a tree from Dreamland Christmas Tree farm, Jefferson, MD

Furthermore, approximately 85 percent of artificial trees sold in the U.S. are imported from  China, according to the National Christmas Tree Association (NCTA), adding to their overall environmental footprint.

Approximately 25 to 30 million real Christmas trees are sold in North America each year, according to the U.S. EPA. Luckily, about 93 percent of those trees are recycled through more than 4,000 available recycling programs.

Real Christmas Tree Cons:

  • Cost: Spending $40-$70 every year is not a cheap alternative.
  • Landfilling/incineration: if not recycled into mulch/compost, real trees add to our global disposal burden.

Other considerations from Earth911:

Real Christmas trees, they are farmed as agricultural products, meaning repeated applications of pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers may be used throughout their lifetime.

Emmitsburg Nuns Prioritize People AND the Planet

Three cheers to the North County Daughters of Charity!

They combined their order’s mission of serving the disadvantaged with their goal of stewardship of the earth—all in one project, the Seton Center.

The Seton Center, a community center providing job training and preparation, dental services, a secondhand store and community meeting space among other services, opened its new building this year as a sustainable project featuring:
*permeable pavers
*solar panels
*energy conservation measures
*low-flow toilets and other water conservation resources

The building houses eight office where 11 staff members work, as well as space for social services and job training agencies who need a meeting place in the North County to meet.

Permeable pavers are made of porous material and drain rainwater quickly after it hits the parking lot, feeding it into the ground rather than washing into storm sewers.

Sister Martha and the staff can continuously monitor energy useage (or lack thereof!) in these meters.

 

The Seton Center encourages employees and patrons to bring reuseable bottles that can be filled easily at the fountain.

The Center began in 1969 at its building outside of town—a building that was only supposed to last 10 years, but lasted until 2017. A new center was needed to replace the deteriorating steel structure, and the order decided to use a piece of the property originally left to them in 1809 by Elizabeth Ann Seton, rather than go through an annexation process on the old county land.
They decided from the get-go to go green.

“Its in the mission of the daughters of Charity to care for the earth,” said Sister Martha Beaudoin, executive director of the Seton Center. The religious order around the world is 16000 strong, with presence in 93 countries, and is known for projects such as digging wells and working on clean water. “This project goes with what the sisters have done in the other countries.”

The sisters have also watched the sustainability achievements of Mayor Don Briggs and the Emmitsburg town staff, and wanted to get on board with their own facility!

They instructed Morgan-Keller, the general contractor, and their architect, Scott Bowen of Washington County, to find cost-effective, sustainable solutions, and felt that they did good work in bringing the building in on budget with its sustainable elements.
And its working – Sister Martha says even with the larger (13,000 square foot), and differently shaped building, “The electric bill used to be $1,300 a month; now its $800 a month!”

Natural light and low-energy lighting filters into the Seton Center’s new store.

State Tree Nursery Now Accepting Orders

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources is now accepting online orders for shrub and tree seedlings from the John S. Ayton State Forest Tree Nursery for the spring 2019 planting season.

The nursery offers more than 50 species of shrubs and trees for large-scale plantings on private land to meet a wide variety of conservation, environmental and reforestation needs. It also offers 20 different “pollinator friendly” options.

A minimum order of 25 seedlings per species is required, and supplies are limited. 

Nursery customers are mostly individual landowners. Shrub and tree plantings provide both economic and environmental benefits, including cleaner air, energy conservation, filtering and retaining water and essential habitat for wildlife.

click here for more info.

McClintocks Distilling: Sustainable Spirits

McClintocks Distilling: Sustainable Spirits

When Braeden Bumpers and Tyler Hegamyer went into business in downtown Frederick, becoming successful at distilling spirits made from organic feedstock was their primary focus.

They have become green champions in Frederick County and the State of Maryland along the way.

As a result of their search for sources of organically grown grain not only in the county but in the entire state,  they accomplished two important things: becoming the first certified organic distillery in the state (and one of three on the East Coast) and providing the buying power for a Frederick County farmer to grow them organic grain..

Charles Brault, a Thurmont farmer, now supplies McClintocks with 100-120 tons per year of organic corn and rye, in several varieties*, used in the mash and process for making the vodka, rye whiskey and gin that the Frederick business sells.  (Brault  also provides grain to Baltimore Spirits Company, Grey Wolf Distilling in St Michaels, Seacrest in Ocean City).

“Originally, we had to buy all the way from Ohio because we couldn’t find any organic grain locally,” Bumpers said. Ninety-five percent of the grain growing in Maryland is treated with pesticide, Bumpers said.

Braeden and the Braults met when the business was gutting the old Ideal Garage on Carroll St, where they are located; and struck up a conversation about McClintocks’ desire to be organic. Brault, having been certified organic by the Maryland Department of Agriculture since 2006, said supplying McClintock was a “no brainer”.

Growing organic is also a financial plus for the Braults: “Farm gate prices for food grade organic grain are the highest available. Organic grain prices generally run about 3 times that of conventional grain. There is a huge shortage of domestically grown organic grain. Most of it now comes from overseas: Turkey, Ukraine, South America. This has been driving down prices for domestic producers,” Brault said..”

McClintocks also has a system of reusing all the water input into their distilling process—a heavy water user–  by reusing cooling water rather than sending it to the wastewater system for treatment.

“We’re almost waste neutral,” Bumpers said, with their brewery waste also being fed to pigs at a northern county hog farm. They are buying all their power from wind farms.

Braeden said McClintocks’ is proud of the sustainable work they are doing.”We didn’t really set out to be “green” but it just turned out that way,” he said.

 

See more about their environmental impacts here: http://www.mcclintockdistilling.com/blog/2018/4/30/how-to-drink-green-this-year

 

*Open pollinated corn: Boone County White, Bloody Butcher, Krug, Wapsie Valley, Glass Gem. Rye varieties (also open pollinated) Brasetto and Abruzzi.