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World’s Largest Urban Greenhouse

Giant Food Stores signed a deal with BrightFarms to build the world’s largest urban greenhouse, expected to open this fall.  At 100,000 square feet, the greenhouse aims to deliver 1 million pounds of fresh produce throughout the year to about 30 Giant supermarkets in the Washington, DC,  metro area. Plans also include making the greenhouse available to schools as an educational tool on urban agriculture and sustainability.

In addition to building greenhouses attached to supermarkets, BrightFarms designs rooftop farms and is working on projects in Kansas City, Oklahoma City, St. Louis, and St. Paul.

To read more, check out this article.

New Bike Lanes

As Bethesda proceeds through a new sector plan for future development, interested parties may want to take note of Alexandria’s plan to add new bike lanes. The Alexandria City Council voted unanimously recently to create bike lanes on a span of King Street from Janneys Lane to West Cedar Street, one of Alexandria’s busiest streets.  Many Alexandria residents objected to this plan, however, because it will cause the removal of more than two dozen parking spots and add to congestion. Those in favor of the bike lanes argue that more and more people are using bikes for commuting so creating a safe way for them is key to cities like Alexandria.

Ultimately, the bike lanes proposal was approved with the safety of bicyclists and pedestrians in mind. Bicyclists will share the traffic lanes with motorized vehicles in the areas where parking is still allowed. New crosswalks and electronic speed indicators will also be installed for the safety pedestrians and bicyclists.

To find out more information, check out the Washington Post.

Events

  • Maryland Day, a weekend celebration of all things Maryland, March 21-23, explores historic sites, cultural activities, and natural resources around Annapolis. See the Annapolis Green Growing a Little Greener webpage for more details.
  • H2O SummitMarch 22, 9:30 am – 4 pm, Silver Spring Civic Center, 1 Veterans Plaza, Silver Spring, MD. Topics covered include: What is Stormwater and How Can You Help Prevent Pollution? and Volunteerism & Community Efforts to Improve the Environment. The morning session (9:30 to 1:00 pm) will have speakers and workshops. Attendance is limited, so register in advance. The afternoon session will be a Family H2O Fair hosted by the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission and will include kid’s crafts and environmental demos for families. An assortment of water related exhibitors will also be on hand located in the Great Hall. Registration is not required for the afternoon session.

by Julie Clendenin

DC Water lifted its two-day Boil Water Advisory March 7, which was a relief for many DC residents. Their short “water crisis” ended without much drama. It did, however, remind me of our good fortune when it comes to drinking water. It’s good that the remarkable days are those when our water supply is NOT absolutely safe.

And it made me wonder about the flip side of that luck that escapes my consciousness most of the time. I started really thinking about what it would be like to live without a reliable, convenient source of drinking water.

I wanted some perspective from the flip side, so I went looking for some data. Here’s what I found:

  • 768 million people in the world do not have access to safe, clean drinking water (UNICEF, 2014).
  • “Access to drinking water,” in international development language, means that the water source is less than 1 kilometer from its place of use.  That means that someone has to travel, collect water, and carry it home for use. EVERY DAY. The World Health Organization estimates that, globally, 200 million hours are spent EACH DAY collecting water for domestic use.
  • An American taking a five-minute shower uses more water than the average person in a developing country slum uses for an entire day (UN Development Program, 2006).

Our city’s briefly threatened water supply was an inconvenience for many of our neighbors – in fact, it was a very real health hazard that needed to be taken seriously. I am grateful that this kind of thing is a rare occurrence for us, and that we can remain confident about the safety of our drinking water.

RWFFLogo_FullColor_EST2012The thing is, in the developing world, the lack of clean drinking water is daunting crisis. In some African nations, less than half the population has access to clean drinking water. Every day, 1,400 children die from diseases directly linked to unsafe water or lack of basic sanitation.

The Reel Water Film Festival, Saturday, June 14 at the Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club, is a great place to start exploring the global water crisis. It’s also an opportunity to explore our own, local water supply challenges. Roughly 6 million people live in the DC area – and most of us get our drinking water from the Potomac River, which is threatened by stormwater runoff from our paved surfaces, sewage overflows caused by massive rainstorms (and snowmelt!), chemical & nutrient pollution from our lawns as well as larger industrial and agricultural sources.

There are things we can each do to help, on both fronts. Let’s not take clean water for granted. It’s not really just a matter of good fortune. We need to get real about protecting it.

Julie Clendenin grew up in Bethesda, met her husband during high school at Walter Johnson, currently lives with her family in Kensington, and works for a consulting firm in Bethesda.

BGgreennews_logo1Bethesda Downtown Plan

Although there are still issues to work out, a development plan is taking shape for downtown Bethesda. The Montgomery County Planning Department is updating the 20-year-old Bethesda Downtown Sector Plan to manage future building and zoning decisions in the area. The Department recently hosted a workshop for residents, planners, and developers to help them move forward with their plan. Guests were asked to determine where the exact “heart of downtown Bethesda” was on a map on the wall and where the most troublesome areas were for pedestrians. Discussion also included changes that attendees thought needed to be made, with most saying there was a need for more green space.

Downtown Bethesda is growing rapidly; in fact, it is expected that between now and 2040 the population will double.

To get all the details, check out the Gazette.

Purple Line Project — Recommended by the White House

President Barack Obama’s new budget plan includes $100 million in federal construction money for the proposed light rail Purple Line Project, an infusion to help keep the $2.2 billion project on schedule. Also, the Purple Line Project was recommended for a full funding grant agreement, a long-term construction commitment that Maryland officials hope will amount to $900 million in federal funding. Purple Line construction is scheduled to start in 2015 and open in 2020.

Some of the advantages of the proposed plan would be faster and more reliable transit options for traveling east-west between suburbs and would encourage new investments around stations in older suburbs. Opponents of the project say that the construction would require cutting down hundreds of trees in popular trails and would bring noise pollution to residents living along the route. The town of Chevy Chase has been leading the opposition to the Purple Line Project because it would require condemning 116 homes and businesses; they also believe that the state hasn’t done enough to explore other options.

The Purple Line would consist of 21 stations with two-car trains mostly running above ground.

Read the Gazette article here.

Addendum: Council members call for Purple Line community task force (see article here).

Climate Change in Montgomery County

Climate change is becoming more apparent to farmers and gardeners because their farming or blossoming seasons are becoming unpredictable and unreliable. Last week, several horticulturists, biologists, and environmental activists met to discuss ways of adapting to climate change. They were part of a conference called “Green Matters 2014: Gardening in a Changing Climate” in Montgomery County.

Precise temperature and weather are key to growing healthy crops and plants but with the increasingly severe and erratic weather, the plants are susceptible to death.  Farmers and planters have to worry about temperatures dropping below freezing and damaging their crops. There is not much farmers and gardeners can do except respond to the changes they see. With higher temperatures, new pests can now survive farther north and at higher elevations than normal. For example, the mountain pine beetle, which is normally found in western forests, is beginning to spread. It and many other species could start invading Maryland.

The Chesapeake Climate Action Network leads efforts to fight climate change through political activism and encouragement to reduce fossil fuel consumption.

Read the Gazette article here.

Events

  • Raptors of the Chesapeake Bay: Past, Present, and Future Outlook for the Bald Eagle and Peregrine Falcon — Lecture, Thursday, March 13, 7 pm, Annapolis Maritime Museum, 723 Second Street, Annapolis. Speaker: Craig Koopie, Raptor Biologist, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Chesapeake Bay Office. Free for certain Museum members; $10 for the public.
  • 5th Annual Davidsonville Green Expo — Saturday, March 15, 10 am – 2 pm, Davidsonville Elementary School, 962 West Central Avenue, Davidsonville, MD. The Expo features awareness about environmental issues, children’s activities, free native tree give-aways, Bay-friendly lawn and landscape techniques, and more.
  • Environmental Film Festival in the Nation’s Capital — various venues from March 18 – March 30. The theme of the 2014 Festival — Our Cities, Our Planet — will examine the challenges posed by Earth’s urban environments and the efforts of the world’s cities to balance environmental and economic needs.

Incubator Spotlight is a continuing series of features about companies in the Bethesda Green Business Incubator.

Gator ron logoGator Ron’s Zesty Sauces & Mixes offers six unique, delicious products; two versions each of Divine Bloody Mary Mix, Angel Wing Sauce & Heavenly BBQ Sauce.  All products are made with all natural ingredients, and are gluten, dairy, and fat free, contain no GMOs or HVPs, are Kosher, vegan, low in calories and carbs and high in flavor & versatility; there are numerous recipes on our website for easy, healthy appetizers, entrées, side dishes and beverages using our products.

The unique recipes for these sauces and mixes were created by “Gator” Ron Griffith, who died of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease) in November 2011; we are manufacturing and selling his products to raise money for ALS research. Constance Griffith, Ron’s wife, is Founder & President of Gator Ron’s Zesty Sauces & Mixes; Debra Kaufmann is Co-Founder & Vice President, Public Relations & Communications.  A percentage of all proceeds are donated to the Robert Packard Center at Johns Hopkins.

In the 18 months since we first received our manufactured products, we are delighted to say that Gator Ron’s Zesty Sauces & Mixes are now in more than 100 locations in the Baltimore/Washington metro area, including several stores and restaurants on the Eastern Shore.  We are also with a distributor in Ontario, Canada for placement in gourmet and gift shops, and our Bloody Mary Mix is in numerous liquor stores in Delaware and Pennsylvania, as well as all Montgomery County and Worcester County Liquor Stores.  We have online sales through our website, Abe’s Market, Open Sky and Amazon.

Gator Ron’s is currently in local programs with Whole Foods and MOM’s Organic Market, and will be placing some of our products in local Giant Food Stores in the fall, and we are in discussions with potential distributors, which would help us really grow the business.  We are also hoping to find investors to help fund this upcoming growth – and even plan to apply to Shark Tank!  We are very excited and believe that 2014 has the possibility of becoming a huge year for Gator Ron’s!

Please help us “take a bite out of ALS” by purchasing Gator Ron’s Zesty Sauces & Mixes – we hope to become the Paul Newman’s for ALS.

As students go back to school to start their spring semester, finding a summer internship is definitely on their to-do list, and now is the time when employers are looking for talented students to fill their organizational needs. So each year Bethesda Green hosts Fields of Green Internship Fair to connect highly qualified students who are looking for opportunities in the environmental sector with DC metro area’s green employers. Getting ready for the event this year, we decided to share a series of profiles (wrapped up with this edition) about some of the amazing interns who have worked with us recently.

Natalia Salazar PhotoMeet Natalia Salazar. Natalia graduated from Mount Holyoke College in May 2013 with a degree in Environmental Studies and a concentration in Ecosystem Science. Since September 2013, she has been interning at Bethesda Green and Calleva Farm, focusing on sustainable agriculture. She is passionate about building a local, ethical, and sustainable food system.

How did you hear about Bethesda Green? After the end of my last semester in college, I started searching online for green internships in Bethesda. The first link that came up was Bethesda Green’s list of internships from the 2013 Fields of Green Internship Fair. Thanks to this list, I found out about Bethesda Green and Calleva, and I am enjoying wonderful opportunities at both places.

The best thing about interning at Bethesda Green is the chance to work on a project of my interest and receive all the support and resources I need to complete my project. I especially love the level of involvement I’m granted in the Greening Restaurants program and the exposure to the local sustainability world. Thanks to my internship at BG, I have learned  a great deal about restaurants serving delicious, local, seasonal food in downtown Bethesda that I previously had not know about.

What do you do at Bethesda Green? Since I started my internship at Bethesda Green, I’ve been immersing myself in the topic of sustainable agriculture. I’m helping to bring a local food day in downtown Bethesda and creating a webpage within the BG site to educate the public about sustainable agriculture, our county’s agricultural reserve, and sources for local food.

I am most passionate about environmental stewardship, health, animal welfare, and social justice. I also love the outdoors, traveling, dancing, cooking, and eating.

One thing I do to protect the environment is drive a small, fuel-efficient car. My goal, however, is to drive an electric car powered by clean energy sources.

Future goals/plans? This fall I hope to enroll in the University of Maryland’s Environmental Science and Technology M.S. program. I would like to do research and gain expertise on sustainable agriculture and soil.

_________________

Maddy Go is currently a senior at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School, interning at Bethesda Green for the fall and spring semesters.

How did you hear about Bethesda Green? I was looking for an internship in the environmental field as part of my school’s internship program, and a quick Google search brought me to Bethesda Green’s website. After meeting with Bethesda Green staff, I started interning months later in the fall.

The best thing about interning at BG…is the extremely welcoming and encouraging Bethesda Green staff. BG is a great environment to learn and grow, and that’s made possible entirely by them.

What do you do at Bethesda Green? Anything that’s needed, including working on the database, the BG website, media outreach, and my own personal project. With the help of Bethesda Green, I’ve recently been able to begin to renovate my school’s greenhouse, which has been a fantastic experience for me.

I am most passionate about finding innovative ways to do things and exploring new ideas, especially in the environmental field.

One thing you do to protect the environment? Whenever I go out I try to carpool, take public transportation, or walk/bike.

Future goals/plans? This year I’m going to head to college and begin my undergraduate studies in environmental science. However, things are still uncertain down the road. Hopefully I’ll be able to take advantage of study-abroad opportunities, or try World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) or the Peace Corps.

As students go back to school to start their spring semester, finding a summer internship is definitely on their to-do list, and now is the time when employers are looking for talented students to fill their organizational needs. So each year Bethesda Green hosts Fields of Green Internship Fair to connect highly qualified students who are looking for opportunities in the environmental sector with DC metro area’s green employers. Getting ready for the event this year, we decided to share a series of profiles about some of the amazing interns who have worked with us recently.

Melanie Herrera PhotoMeet Melanie Herrera. She is a senior at Paint Branch High School, participating in the Honors Executive Leadership Program, an honors career and leadership development program.

How did you hear about Bethesda Green? I heard of Bethesda Green through my program supervisor, Kim Jones. She helped me connect with Bethesda Green since I am interested in studying environmental science in college.

The best thing about interning at Bethesda Green is interacting with various green businesses that work closely with Bethesda Green and learning new ways to go green.

I am most passionate about my family because they support and motivate me in everything I do.

One thing you do to protect the environment? I participate in my school’s environmental club where we educate others about the environment and promote recycling and sustainability.

Future goals/plans?  I hope to have a career in the field of environmental science. I am also looking forward to graduating this year and traveling to Portland, Oregon, to visit my family.

As students go back to school to start their spring semester, finding a summer internship is definitely on their to-do list, and now is the time when employers are looking for talented students to fill their organizational needs. So each year Bethesda Green hosts Fields of Green Internship Fair to connect highly qualified students who are looking for opportunities in the environmental sector with DC metro area’s green employers. Getting ready for the event this year, we decided to share a series of profiles about some of the amazing interns who have worked with us recently.

Susanna Parker PhotoMeet Susanna Parker. She is the Social Media and Production Manager for Mark Leisher Productions, a visual communications company based in Bethesda. She earned her Bachelor’s of Science in Environmental Management at the University of Maryland.

How did you hear about Bethesda Green? I heard of Bethesda Green through a family friend, Cheryl Newman. Cheryl worked for Honest Tea and had been involved with Bethesda Green for several years. She introduced me to BG Program Manager Sharon D’Emidio and I joined Bethesda Green as an intern.

The best thing about interning at Bethesda Green was the experience and connections that I gained. I was never assigned menial tasks, but given important projects that were interesting to work on and were a great addition to my resume.

What have you been up to since your internship at Bethesda Green?  As an intern with BG, I regularly wrote for the Bethesda Green blog. I came to the attention of Mark Leisher, whose production company is in the BG Incubator. He and his partner asked me to come on part-time as a content writer. I gradually transitioned to full-time and just celebrated my one-year anniversary as an employee of Mark Leisher Productions.

I am most passionate about educating people on current issues. Whether that’s watershed protection, the Keystone XL pipeline, or colony collapse disorder, people need to know how humans impact the environment around them, and what they can do to help.

One thing you do to protect the environment? I compost with worms in our apartment. It took some experimentation, and I had to fight off fruit flies for a while, but my husband and I have drastically reduced our food waste. Plus, we have to take out the trash far less!

Future goals/plans? I’m looking forward to continuing in my role at Mark Leisher Productions and learning more about video production. My husband and I are about to start house-hunting and hope to purchase a home by mid-June. We’re also planning a few vacations, including to Florida, North Carolina, and (hopefully) Mexico.

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