Monday, April 25, 2011

CES in Rock Hall Wave

Rock Hall Wave: Big Plant Planned by Swan Creek Oyster Growers

Recently, Oyster growers from the Chester, Corsica, and Swan Creek tributaries gathered for a picnic to meet each other and share experiences. The picnic was held Sunday the 10th at the Leila Hynson Pavilion in Wilmer Park, Chestertown, MD and hosted by the Center for Environment & Society (CES) at Washington College. Mike Hardesty, CES Program Manager and the Marylanders Grow Oysters Coordinator for the Chester River, organized the event to bring growers together and plan the most favorable placement of oysters on a local sanctuary.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Washington College Announces Its Acquisition Of Chester River Field Research Center

The research station at Chino Farms in Queen Anne's County will offer hands-on research opportunities in habitat management and sustainability.

CHESTERTOWN, MD, April 22, 2011— Washington College today announced that it has acquired the Chester River Field Research Center (CRFRC), the nonprofit corporation that leads and facilitates scientific research and environmental studies at Chino Farms in Queen Anne's County.

The CRFRC was founded in 1999 by conservationist Henry F. Sears, a retired surgeon and the owner of Chino Farms, a 5,000-acre property on the Chester River. Under an agreement reached with the board of directors of the CRFRC, and with financial support from anonymous donors, the College's Center for Environment & Society will take over all operations of the Research Center, coordinating the study projects underway there. The College acquires no Chino Farms land in the agreement.

The research center's two full-time field biologists, Dan Small and Maren Gimpel, will join the staff of the Center for Environment & Society (CES). Founding scientific director Douglas E. Gill, a professor emeritus of biology at University of Maryland, will serve as a consultant. And Jim Gruber, a retired Natural Resources officer who volunteers his time and expertise as the director of the bird-banding operation at Chino Farms, will become an Associate of CES.

Sears sees the transfer of operations to the College as the next step in the growth and stability of the CRFRC. "This gives the investigations part of the Research Center a broader base, a broader scope, and longer legs," he says. "And it provides institutional longevity— a future beyond the lives of the current participants."

He says he has been following the growth of the College's Center for Environment & Society over the past few years. "I appreciate the interest and enthusiasm the CES staff has shown for the kinds of conservation and farming techniques we've been exploring at Chino Farms," he says. "And I couldn't be more excited about the commitment Washington College has shown for maintaining the community's rural and agricultural heritage."

"This is exciting news for all of us at Washington College," says President Mitchell B. Reiss. "We expect this acquisition to bring a quantum boost to the environmental field work our faculty and students can conduct. We are grateful to Dr. Sears and the CRFRC board for the trust they have shown in our Center for Environment & Society and its ability to maintain and expand the research on farm practices, habitat restoration and wildlife happening at Chino Farms."

The CRFRC is best known for its work in grassland restoration and migratory bird banding— it has successfully restored 246 acres of Atlantic prairie grasses, creating one of the very few large-scale coastal grasslands on the Eastern Seaboard, and has banded more than 150,000 new birds at its Foreman's Branch Bird Observatory.

Washington College has been involved in a limited way in programs at Chino Farms over the past several years. A handful of students have worked at the bird banding station as part of their paid internships with CES, and professor Leslie Sherman has conducted research on soil chemistry there. The acquisition of the CRFRC facilities will enable those who work in environmental studies to think and dream big when it comes to grant-funded research and environmental study.

"This opens up unparalleled hands-on field opportunities to our own students and faculty, and to scientists and educators from other schools and organizations as well as state and federal agencies," says John Seidel, the director of the Center for Environment & Society. "We can expand research projects into the other rich habitat areas at Chino Farms, including forest habitat, wetlands and seasonal wetlands, and farmland. We'll be the portal to this wonderful resource and all its rich habitat areas."

All 5,000 acres of Chino Farms are protected under conservation easements, making it one of the largest easements in Maryland history. Three thousand of those acres are farmed commercially by Evan Miles of Bluestem Farms, who uses a mixture of precision agriculture and organic methods.

Other subjects now under study through the CRFRC include wild turkeys, songbird communications, bobwhite quail, breeding birds in managed grasslands, and nutrient recycling in soil.

Gill, who led the grasslands restoration, is glad to see Washington College take on the work of the research center he and Harry Sears created 12 years ago. "It has been a somewhat private affair led by Dr. Sears' vision and my expertise as an ecologist," he says. "It makes sense to have a top-quality academic institution like Washington College, so close to the research station, take it on and make it available for teaching and research. It's what I always envisioned should happen. And John Seidel at CES will provide superb leadership."

Washington College senior Rachel Field, an Environmental Studies major from West Chester, Pa., knows first-hand the kinds of opportunities the CRFRC can bring to students. As a CES intern at Chino Farms, she has spent two summers and much of the spring semester mapping Grasshopper Sparrow territories, banding birds at the Foreman's Branch Bird Observatory banding lab, and studying mate selection in Blue Grosbeaks. "As a scientist, this experience has been invaluable," she says. "I have gained practical experience in conducting field experiments, designing experiments, completing bird surveys, and banding migratory birds. And, as an individual, my time at the Chester River Field Research Center has helped me to become more confident and independent."
For more information, please visit and

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Annual Earth Day Festival

April 23, 2011

Earth Day Festival & Farmers Market
8:00 AM to 1:00 PM
Fountain Park & Memorial Row

Spring flowers, local artisans, live music, tasty baked goods, fresh eggs, meats and produce will highlight the Farmers Market in Fountain Park. Across the street Memorial Row will transform into a dog- and pedestrian-only "street fair," with Rose Green's fried fish and funnel cake wafting through the air, the local Elks lodge selling hamburgers, hotdogs and french fries, eco-friendly exhibitors, green merchants, and free services for paper shredding and recycling drop-offs (household batteries, cell-phones, CFL bulbs and fluorescent tubes). Everyone joins together in support of a healthy environment that includes "clean air, land and water," says Mayor Margo Bailey.
According to Andy Goddard, one of the event organizers, center stage will feature Ford "open mic" Schumann and friends, a duet by Jay and Lisa Yerkes, and musicians Bob and Pamela Ortiz among others. "Open air concerts and festivals are a lot of fun," says Goddard, because they encourage a community to come out and meet their neighbors. Mayor Bailey notes the positive impact on our local economy. She credits volunteers Jon Hanley, JoAnn Fairchild and Ms. Goddard for orchestrating the festival and other events that bring the community together while attracting visitors and tourists. "But by far the biggest draw is the Farmers Market," says Bailey, and we have Owen McCoy and all our local growers to thank for that.
The Humane Society reminds folks that Mutt Strut registration begins in Fountain Park at 8:30 AM, with the dog walk starting at 10:00 AM and ending at Wilmer Park. Registration for the walk is $10. All other events and activities in the Town's parks are free and open to the public. For festival information contact (410) 778-7295 and for Mutt Strut contact (410) 778-3648. The Earth Day Festival & Mutt Strut is a collaborative event sponsored by the Town of Chestertown, the Kent County Humane Society, and the Center for Environment & Society at Washington College. Read about last year's event here.

* 7:00 AM - vendors and exhibitors set up on Memorial Row
* 8:00 AM - Farmers Market opens in Fountain Park
* 8:30 AM - Mutt Strut registration in Fountain Park
* 9:30 AM - live music begins
* 10:00 AM - dog parade begins in Fountain Park and winds through Wilmer Park
* 1:00 PM - festival ends on a happy note

Go Green on 213

April 21, 2011

Come celebrate Earth Day on campus by showing the creative side of recycling! Put those cans from the weekend to good use or get a jump-start on building a boat for cardboard boat race. Find a team and build whatever you want out of recyclable materials. The teams with the best structures or sculptures will win. Judging takes place from 11:30 AM to 1:30 PM on Thursday, April 21st, on the Hodson Commons outside the main entrance to the Dining Hall.

The rules for the "Go Green on 213" recycling sculpture contest are as follows:

1. Teams are not required to be present for the judging; however it is their responsibility to get the sculpture to and from the event.
2. Teams should have their names and name of the sculpture/structure presented with their entry.
3. Water soluble glues and paints only are allowed (no hot glue).
4. The sculptures must be set up by 11:30 AM on the day of the judging. It is the team's responsibility to plan accordingly.
5. Recyclable materials will not be given to the participants. It is the team's responsibility to collect their own materials for their structure.
6. Teams may win more than one category.

The JUDGES (Andrew Antonio, JoAnn Fairchild, Dr. Karl Kehm, and Ricky Sears) will award prizes in the following categories:

* Best cardboard structure
* Best can structure
* Best bottle structure
* People’s choice
* Most creative
* "OMG" (overall most green!) – it is reusable, helpful to others, and environmentally friendly.

PRIZES include I-tunes gift cards, a free pizza, coupons to Java George, and coupons to the Farmers Market on campus that day.

Dining Services is hosting a Farmers Market on the Commons starting at 11:00 AM. Vendors include Redman Farms, Eve’s Cheese and St. Brigid’s Farm among other local producers. According to Donna Dhue Wilkins, the College’s food service director, “organic beef tips and fresh salad greens will surely highlight the lunch menu that day.”
For information on the RECYCLING SCULPTURE CONTEST contact Elle O'Brien at or (410) 778-7295. “You can build any structure or create sculpture made out of recycled cans, bottles, or cardboard,” she says. O’Brien, who is an intern with the College's Center for Environment & Society, says the contest winners will be invited to display their structures at the Mutt Strut & Earth Day Festival in downtown Chestertown on Saturday, April 23, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

CES Hosts First Annual Oyster Growers Picnic

The Center for Environment & Society (CES), hosted the first annual “Picnic at the Pavilion” for local waterfront property owners participating in Governor O’Malley’s “Marylanders Grow Oysters” program. The event, held Sunday, April 10 at the Leila Hanson Pavilion in Wilmer Park, Chestertown, MD, was designed as a “meet and greet” session. CES successfully applied to the program last year, purchased oysters in September, and currently have 55 community members growing oysters in 260 cages hanging from their piers along the Chester River. Read the full article on the Chestertown Spy. For more information on the Marylanders Grow Oysters Program see or contact Mike Hardesty, Chester River MGO coordinator or 410 699 1940.

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Dirty Life: On Farming, Food, and Love

April 13, 2011
7:30 PM - Hotchkiss Recital Hall
Gibson Art Center

Join author Kristin Kimball in discussing her new memoir, "The Dirty Life: On Farming, Food, and Love." Kimball and her husband, Mark, farm 500 acres near Lake Champlain in northern New York. "Against all odds, I fell deeply for him, and for farming...At the end of the first growing season, we got married in the loft of our shabby red barn. We've farmed here for seven years now, and have become parents to two little girls."
The Kimballs raise almost everything they need for a year-round diet, including 50 kinds of vegetables, herbs, grains, and fruits, plus pigs, chickens, and dairy and beef cattle. They use no pesticides or herbicides, and most of the work is done with draft horses instead of tractors. The farm feeds 150 people, who come each week to pick up their share of our produce, flours, milk, meats, and eggs.

Prior to farming, Kimball worked as a freelance writer, a writing teacher, and an assistant to a literary agent. A graduate of Harvard University, she has run Essex Farm with her husband since 2003. She grew up near Rome, NY, where she didn't even have a garden as a child. Kimball says: "Farming asks a lot of a person, physically, emotionally, and intellectually. It keeps you close to the dirt and humble. I've gained many skills on the farm that I couldn't have imagined needing in the city...But the best lesson farming has taught me is the deep pleasure of commitment—to Mark, to our farm, to a small town."

The program is sponsored by The Center for Environment & Society, The Joseph H. McLain Program in Environmental Studies, The Sophie Kerr Committee, and Farm Dinners on the Shore. For more information, call 410-778-7295. The event is free and open to the public.