June 2010

Bell ringers open the Bethesda FreshFarm Market, June 19.

Bell ringers--including BG's Dave Feldman (white shirt) and County Councilmember Roger Berliner (center, with jacket and green cap)--open the Bethesda FreshFarm Market, June 19.

One week ago today, Bethesda Green’s Executive Director, Dave Feldman, was part of a group of people who rang the opening bell(s) for the new Bethesda FreshFarm Market,  June 19.

The bell ringers walked the length of the one-block farmer’s market on Norfolk Ave. FreshFarm employees, Bethesda Urban Partnership representatives, County Councilmember Roger Berliner and Feldman were among the group.

The Bethesda FreshFarm Market is open Saturday mornings on Norfolk Ave.

The Bethesda FreshFarm Market is open Saturday mornings on Norfolk Ave.

The Bethesda FreshFarm Market is open Saturdays from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. through October 30, on Norfolk Street, which is blocked off at that time between Fairmont Ave. and St. Elmo Ave. It features farmers and producers selling local fruits and vegetables, baked goods, cheese and dairy, meat and eggs, and flowers and plants. There’s even one stand that sells nothing but pies.

Some vendors were not present at the opening, but there were placeholder signs noting that they would be joining the market soon.

Ilaya Hopkins, left, speaks with shoppers at the market. Hopkins is a Democratic candidate for county council in District 1.

Ilaya Hopkins, left, speaks with shoppers at the market. Hopkins is a Democratic candidate for county council in District 1.

A decent crowd showed up the first day. One of those perusing the produce was Ilaya Hopkins, Democratic candidate for county council in District 1. Hopkins sits on the Bethesda Green Board of Directors, as does incumbent District 1 Councilmember Berliner.

The new FreshFarm market gives Bethesdans another opportunity to conveniently buy local foods, along with the Bethesda Central Farm Market that is open Thursdays and Sundays on the Bethesda Row side of town.

Okay, BG fans, here’s a quick way to help us win some cash to bolster our ability to spread the green word!

We have entered a national non-profit competition sponsored by Chase Community Giving on Facebook.  All you have to do is Click on this Link or the logo below and vote for Bethesda Green as one of your favorite non-profits.  Chase will contribute at least $20,000 to the top 200 vote recipients.

We need more votes, so show your support for Bethesda Green and get your friends to do so as well!

  • Farm Lobby Must Step Aside, Because Bay Can’t Wait Any Longer – This column by WashPost’s Robert McCartney argues it’s time for the national farm lobby to stop fighting two proposed bills before Congress that would give federal and state governments genuine authority for the first time over all kinds of polluters — including farmers — in the six-state Chesapeake watershed. The goal would be to cut pollutants—the single largest source of which is farm runoff—by 2025 to levels low enough to restore the Chesapeake Bay’s health.
  • U.S. Water System Needs Better Enforcement, Smart Investment to Ensure Quality – Municipal water systems in the U.S. are a huge success story, providing clean, drinkable water at a tiny cost. In an article in the Washington Post, writer Peter Gleick, however, argues there is plenty of evidence that tap water in some places isn’t as safe as it could and should be. Investments in maintaining and improving water systems, their pipes and treatment plants are falling behind the need. Regulatory agencies have fallen far behind technology.
  • Clean Energy Rewards Program Closes — Montgomery County’s Clean Energy Rewards Program, which paid homeowners and business owners incentives to buy electricity from clean, renewable sources, closed down June 15 due to county budget cuts.  According to the program’s website, “Since its inception in 2007, the Clean Energy Rewards program has encouraged over 6,000 residents and 300 businesses to make the switch from electricity generated by fossil-fuel fired power plants to clean energy sources like wind and solar.  Together, program participants have avoided over 120,000 tons of carbon dioxide by switching to clean energy!”
  • Interview With Seth Goldman of Honest Tea: Our friends over at KissMyCountry.com recently posted this interview with Bethesda Green co-founder Seth Goldman, who is also TeaEO of Honest Tea. He discusses his success, his heroes, and how Bethesda Green got started.

Upcoming Green Events:

  • June 23, 6:30 p.m. — Biking, Walking, Public Transport: Smart Mobility for the 21st Century A discussion at the Goethe-Institut Washington, part of their Green Living series. Get more details and RSVP.
  • June 24, 4:00-5:30 p.m. — Bethesda Green 101This monthly session for newcomers, young and old, provides an introduction to Bethesda Green and ways to get involved as a volunteer or intern.
  • June 30, 6:00-9:00 p.m. — Green Night at the Big Train Baseball Game — Join Bethesda Green and supporters for a fun summer night at the Bethesda Big Train baseball game at Shirley Povich field in Cabin John Regional Park. Other “green” folks participating include the Big Green Bus from Dartmouth College; Honest Tea; the Maryland Greenhawks basketball team and star player Byron Mouton; and Jeff Green, a former Georgetown University basketball star now with the Oklahoma City Thunder of the NBA.
  • June 30, 6:00-11:00 p.m. — “Local Warming” Film Premiere, Wine Tasting and Solutions Fair. Join writer and director Tom Reilly for the DC premiere of ‘Local Warming,’ a humorous and realistic look at reversing one’s impact on global warming. $10 ticket includes one glass of wine. Proceeds benefit green solutions organizations. At the Navy Memorial, 701 Pennsylvania Ave., NW.

By guest blogger Beverly Firme

Dave Feldman, center, with Israeli environmentalists

Renee Halpert (L) of Forum Shemesh Yehuda, Dave Feldman (Middle) and another Forum Shemesh Yehuda guest.

Bethesda Green’s First Thursday Happy Hour is a great time to connect, meet friends, and hear about what’s going on in Montgomery County when it comes to Green.  This past Thursday, June 3, the Doubletree Hotel’s Wine Bar was packed with people, new information, and great connections–along with drinks and hot appetizers.  Sponsored by Clean Currents, the evening started with mingling and a chance to relax and talk before hearing from the special guests invited for the evening.

Dave Feldman, Executive Director of Bethesda Green, began his remarks by welcoming those special guests:  Doug Weisberger of the Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection, and a group of Israeli environmentalists representing Forum Shemesh Yehuda for the Environment and Sustainability.  Feldman also noted happily that Tom Hucker of the Maryland House of Delegates was in the crowd of about 80 people gathered in The Wine Bar for the event.

Tom Hucker, left

State Delegate Tom Hucker (L) talks with folks at the First Thursday Happy Hour, including Renee Halpert of Forum Shemesh Yehuda

Weisberger spoke about Montgomery County’s relationship with Bethesda Green and applauded  efforts to bring business, community and residents together.  Renee Halpert, Manager of Forum Shemesh Yehuda, a non-profit grassroots environmental organization in the Beit Shemesh and Mateh Yehuda region near Tel Aviv, spoke on behalf of their group.  Formed as a volunteer-based, apolitical organization, Shemesh Yehuda’s efforts include creating awareness of sustainable practices, promoting land preservation, and opposing plans to extract shale oil in the region.  The group was excited about their visit earlier in the day to Bethesda Green and had learned a great deal to apply to their work in Israel.  We can look forward to continuing contact with Shemesh Yehuda, as Halpert mentioned their region will become a Sister City to Montgomery County.  Exciting news and we look forward to hearing more!

Gary Skulnik of Clean Currents

Gary Skulnik, President of Clean Currents, discusses his company's offerings.

Feldman mentioned Bethesda Green’s upcoming free Solar Expo, Solar Bethesda on June 12, and Gary Skulnik, President of Clean Currents, the evening’s sponsor, mentioned the launch of Clean Currents Solar.

Feldman also asked everyone to mark their calendars for October 7, the date reserved for Bethesda Green’s first gala, a Green Awards event co-sponsored by Bethesda Magazine.  “We will recognize Green Champions in Montgomery County,” he said.

To cap the event, Dave Heffernan, Director of Communications, drew winning raffle tickets for dinner for two at the Doubletree Restaurant. The crowd had a chance to talk with the invited guests and enjoy more wine, appetizers and conversation.  Walking through the crowd you could hear snippets of conversation as attendees spoke with the Israeli environmentalists, had the chance to meet our county and state officials, and talked with each other about Montgomery County’s recent passage of the carbon tax, the first county in our nation to do so.

First Thursdays is held the first Thursday of the month in the evening  at a new location in Bethesda each month.  Sign up for e-mail alerts, join the Bethesda Green MeetUp group,  or check Bethesda Green’s web site for the next location!

(View more photos from the June 3 First Thursday Happy Hour)

Here’s what’s going on in green this week.

  • 2010 Bethesda Magazine Green Awards Call for Nominees — Bethesda Magazine is accepting nominations for its first Green Awards, which will recognize businesses, non-profits, communities and individuals that are leading the local fight to protect the environment. Deadline for submissions is July 1, 2010. Winners will be profiled in the November/December issue of Bethesda Magazine and recognized at the Bethesda Green gala on Oct. 7, 2010. The Green Awards are presented by Bethesda Magazine in partnership with Bethesda Green.
  • DC Second on Green Roofs List, Baltimore Fourth The industry group Green Roofs for Healthy Cities says Chicago led the country last year with more than 500,000 square feet, while Washington was second with about 190,000 square feet of green roofs. Baltimore was fourth with almost 100,000 square feet.
  • Rockville’s New Green Building Codes Applauded – The rules may make the city a more attractive location for future development.
  • County Moves Forward on Start-up Program for Farmers – Woodstock Equestrian Park is top choice for Montgomery County farm incubator program.
  • Community Groups Seek to Grow Gardens at Schools – County residents try to get Superintendent Jerry Weast to reverse his stance.

Local Green Events:

  • June 8 – Prince George’s Green Drinks – Join the Prince George’s Green Power Coalition–a loose group of businesspeople, local government officials, nonprofit professionals, “green-collar” workers, and union folks–for a Green Drinks evening of socializing and networking. 6:30-8:30 pm at the DuClaw Brewery in the Bowie Town Center (4000 Town Center Blvd. Bowie, MD 20716).
  • June 9 – Smart Growth Speaker Series – Peter Harnik, Director of the Center for City Park Excellence at the Trust for Public Land, will discuss “Urban Green: Innovative Parks for Resurgent Cities.” Sponsored by the U.S. EPA, ICMA, the National Building Museum and the Smart Growth Network. Takes place at the National Building Museum, 12:30-1:30 p.m.
  • June 12 – Solar Bethesda, A Free Solar ExpoThis event at Bethesda Green will feature local solar-panel installation companies, energy organizations, speakers and panel discussions about the ins and out of adding solar to your home, plus  online satellite mapping to determine your home’s readiness. We’ll also have info about the various solar energy tax and purchasing incentives. RSVP now! Solar Bethesda will run from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., June 12 at Bethesda Green, 4825 Cordell Ave., 2nd Floor, Bethesda, Md.
Solar electric panels grace a roof on Lisa Heaton's home in Bethesda.

Solar electric panels grace a roof on Lisa Heaton's home in Bethesda. (Photo by Lisa Heaton)

It’s getting hot—and humid—here in the Washington, DC, area. Learn how you can put all that solar radiation to work for you—and how much more affordable it is now, thanks to federal, state and local incentives.

Join Bethesda Green at our first annual Solar Bethesda Expo, Saturday, June 12 from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.  It will take place at the Bethesda Green offices, 4825 Cordell Ave., 2nd Floor, in Bethesda, Md.

Solar Bethesda’s Gold Sponsors are Solar Energy World and the Maryland Clean Energy Center.

We’ll have exhibits from 13 local solar and energy companies, including one station where you’ll be able to view your home using satellite mapping—to determine how suitable your site is for a solar power system.

Representatives from the Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection and the Maryland Clean Energy Center will be there, too.

You can get info on costs, benefits, various types of solar equipment, tax credits and other incentives. We’ll have one discussion about solar purchasing cooperatives. There will also be a panel discussion featuring local residents who are living with solar systems.

Solar Really Pays for One Neighbor

One Bethesda homeowner who will be on the panel is Lisa Heaton, who had a 4.5 kilowatt solar electric system installed on her roof in May 2009. It cost her about $5,000–after a federal tax credit, a Montgomery County grant of $5000, and a Maryland grant of $10,000. And she’ll earn back her investment fairly quickly, thanks to much lower electric bills. To wit:

In 2009, their first calendar year with solar, Lisa and family paid a total of $591 for electricity. From January through April 2010 they paid $117.  In comparison, during their last full year with only Pepco power, they paid $2,035–so they saved $1,444 on electricity that first year and this year they’ll probably save around $1,684. At that rate, the system will pay for itself in another two years. Plus they are generating their own electricity with no emissions!

And that doesn’t even count the months, such as this past April, when the Heatons generated more electricity than they used, resulting in a $53 credit from Pepco!

So it does pay to go solar! And solar hot water systems are even less expensive.

Come to Solar Bethesda, Saturday, June 12, and find out if solar is right for your home!

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Solar Bethesda expoSolar Bethesda

When: Saturday, June 12 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Where: Bethesda Green, 4825 Cordell Ave., 2nd Floor, Bethesda, Md. (we’re in the Chevy Chase Bank building!)

Click Here to RSVP

[Do you already have solar? Tell us about your experience by leaving a comment!]

By Rachel Jaffe

Bethesda Central Farm Market

Cucumbers and tomatoes for sale at the Bethesda Central Farm Market

As a little kid, I would always be really excited to go with my mother whenever she went to shop at organic food stores. Although I might pretend that it was because of my strong convictions of helping my mother or helping the environment, I knew there was only one reason:

Free samples.

Last Sunday, walking with Dave Heffernan of Bethesda Green into the Bethesda Central Farm Market on Elm Street, the giddy combination of sunshine, succulent smells and tasty sights–from the fresh fruit to gelato to sausages to pastries–made it all too easy to just dive in and enjoy myself. However, this time the underlying convictions of building a community where food could be grown close to home and with greater care for the environmental impact of production were not lost on me. Perhaps this was because it was pretty obvious that only people who cared deeply about what they were doing would stand on their feet to sell their wares in the sweltering heat. Or perhaps, it was something more subtle, like the light gossip being tossed back and forth that made everyone feel familiar, or the ambling gait that made the fear of a corporate tomorrow feel small and far away. Hidden behind each easy smile was a story about how each vendor has made steps to grow their small business; and behind the entire farm market is the growing sense of a reconnection to one’s food and a connection between all of them that felt a lot like family.

Albeit, a rather pricey family that as a college student, I could never afford to shop with extensively. But for those who have the resources to take a deeper look into what it means to live an environmentally conscious lifestyle, the Bethesda Central Farm Market is a wonderful starting point.

To all those others who just want to put a few more pleasant moments in their day (or a few free samples in their mouth) the Bethesda Central Farm Market is excellent in that respect as well.

[Editor’s Note: The Bethesda Central Farm Market is open Sundays from 9am-1pm in the parking lot on Elm St. (next to Jaleo) and Thursdays from 3-7pm on Bethesda Lane. Local vendors offer produce, seafood, meats, cheeses, baked goods & more. For more information call 301-652-3929 or visit bethesdacentralfarmmarket.com]

Rachel Jaffe is a Bethesda Green intern and a student at Stony Brook University.

Here are some of the latest stories and events from the green scene in Montgomery County, Prince George’s County and Washington, D.C.

  • How to Decipher Nutrition Buzzwords and Food Marketing Labels – The Post had a useful article by Melissa Bell last week about what some of the descriptions on food packages—such as “natural,” “organic,” “healthy” and others–really mean.
  • Solar Power to the People – Homeowners are winning decisions in and out of court against homeowner associations that want to block them from installing solar electric or solar hot water panels on their roofs, according to Kiplinger.com. Maryland has a law limiting the ability of associations to issue blanket denials of homeowners’ requests to install rooftop solar systems.
  • P.G. Environmental Planning Proposal Draws Fire From All Sides – Planning officials in Prince George’s County are updating environmental regulations that affect stream buffers, water quality and woodland conservation. Environmentalists say the new rules won’t go far enough.
  • Wal-Mart Solar School Program to Put Panels on Some D.C. Schools – Wal-Mart recently announced it is providing a $1.2 million grant to put solar panels on 20 schools in five cities, including Washington, D.C.

Local Green Events

  • June 3 from 5 to 8 p.m. — Bethesda Green First Thursday Happy Hour. Join us for casual conversation and social networking at The Wine Bar in the Doubletree Hotel, 8120 Wisconsin Ave., Bethesda.
  • June 3 from 8 to 9 p.m. — Author Kim Todd speaks at the Audubon Naturalist Society’s Woodend Sanctuary in Chevy Chase, Md. She’ll discuss her new book, Chrysalis: Maria Sibylla Merian and the Secrets of Metamorphosis, which looks at the life of a pioneering explorer/​naturalist who traveled to South America in 1699 to study insect metamorphosis. RSVP to kwilson@audubonnaturalist.org.
  • June 3 at 7:30 p.m. — ReThink Montgomery Speaker Series — Health — In the final talk of this series, Joan Almon of the Alliance for Childhood will discuss the vital role of play and how planners can design and build spaces that make it easy for children to be active. Where: Park & Planning Headquarters, 8787 Georgia Ave., Silver Spring.
  • June 7 at 7 p.m. — Film screening: ‘The Greening of Southie”See a revolutionary green building come to life! Eco-Coach presents the story of Boston’s first residential green building: a young development team makes bamboo flooring to dual-flush toilets a reality, despite job site skeptics and construction mishaps. Where: George Washington University, Duquès Hall, 2201 G Street NW. Please RSVP at the above link or e-mail info@eco-coach.com with “film screening” in the subject line.
  • June 9 from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. — DC Gulf Relief and Rally for an End to Oil at BP Gas StationHear a briefing from Aaron Viles, Campaign Director of the Gulf Restoration Network, who is on the ground assisting the recovery effort in New Orleans. Sponsored by Sierra Club. Where:  Logan Circle area, 1301 N 13th Street, NW, Washington, DC.
  • June 12 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. — Solar Bethesda ExpoCurious about solar? Ready to learn more? Come to Bethesda Green’s *free* Solar Bethesda Expo! There’ll be exhibits from 10 local solar companies, as well as the Maryland Clean Energy Center and other organizations. Hear local residents with solar homes talk about their experiences; learn about the generous solar tax credits now available; and use a satellite mapping station to find out if your home is well situated for solar.

Check the Bethesda Green Calendar for more upcoming green events in the community.