by Dan Rudt                                                                                                              

It’s Pick Your Own Apples Time

Local apples were plentiful at the farmer’s markets the last couple of weekends. That should be the case for at least a couple more to come. If you love apples and like to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty, some orchards in Montgomery County welcome you to pick your own. The wet weather has closed some of the fields to visitors on some days, so be sure to call ahead. You can also find out what varieties are available on any given day. Pick-your-own orchards include Homestead Farm in Poolesville, Lewis Orchards in Dickerson, Rock Hill Orchard in Mt. Airy, and Butler’s Orchard in Germantown. If you know of others, feel free to leave a comment at the end of this news and events post.

University of Maryland “WaterShed” Home on Display at Solar Decathlon

The 2011 Solar Decathlon kicked off this weekend near the Roosevelt Memorial, at the National Mall. Once again, as in 2002, 2005 and 2007, UMCP was one of 20 universities whose students competed successfully for the right to build and display their solar home design on the mall. Their entry, called WaterShed, is a solar powered home that also conserves, filters and reuses water.

If you plan to visit the free exhibits, workshops and events, you can preview WaterShed and read about the students and mentors who made it happen at the UMCP solar team’s Website. For information about all the solar homes and daily workshops, visit the Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon Website. The event runs through Sunday, October  2nd.

Image: Leah Davies

University of Maryland Opens New Energy Research Center

The University of Maryland Energy Research Center (UMERC) that opened Monday, September 26 in College Park will be focused on alternative energy generation and storage. The center’s mission will be to develop energy efficient and environmentally sustainable technologies and practices and also educate the public about energy issues. The mission also includes improving the nation’s energy security by developing local and sustainable energy resources and policies that have a positive environmental impact. The center is part of the university’s A. James Clark School of Engineering and includes faculty from the engineering school and other colleges.

Leggett and Supporters of Nick’s Farm Disagree

Katie Griffith wrote in the Potomac Patch on 9/22 that, “A battalion of community members decked out in green showed up at Wednesday night’s [9/21] town hall meeting with Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) to support Nick’s Organic Farm at the Brickyard Road site.” The article says the farm issue took center stage for at least 20 minutes of the one-hour meeting. Nick’s supporters apparently were unsuccessful in swaying Leggett, who maintained his support for the deal made between Montgomery County Public Schools and the county government to turn the farm into soccer fields.

Upcoming Green Events

U.S. Dep’t. of Energy Solar Decathlon,  Friday, September 23 – Sunday, October 2, West Potomac Park, National Mall, Washington, D.C.  Competing collegiate teams (including University of Maryland) exhibit cost-effective, energy-efficient, and attractive solar-powered houses designed, built and operated by the students.  This free event includes tours of the solar homes, consumer workshops and award ceremonies for the winning teams.

BG101, Thursday, September 29, 4:00 – 5:30 pm, at Bethesda Green. Join us for an orientation about Bethesda Green, our history, upcoming events and volunteer opportunities.

Taste of Bethesda, Saturday, October 1, 11:00 am – 4:00 pm, at Bethesda’s Woodmont Triangle. More than 55 restaurants and four stages of entertainment and a kid’s corner for face painting and arts & crafts. Information here.

Tour of Solar Homes, Saturday and Sunday, October 1 – 2, 11:00 am – 5:00 pm.  The 21st annual tour includes more than 50 homes in the greater DC area and highlights a variety of design, technology and sustainable living concepts. Tour Guides are available for $5 at My Organic Market (Mom’s) or online.

2011 Bethesda Green Gala, Wednesday, October 5, 6:00 – 10:00 pm, Round House Theatre. Come meet local folks from the businesses, non-profits, community organizations and individuals whose innovations, practices and lifestyles promote environmental sustainability — winners and runner-ups of the 2011 Bethesda Magazine Green Awards, who will be announced and recognized for their inspiring work in the environmental community. This promises to be an evening of sharing and connecting as a community where we celebrate our greener future. More information.

Montgomery County Community Service Week, October 16 – 22. The Montgomery County Volunteer Center invites you and your group to participate. More information.

Green Home Expo, Saturday October 22, 10:00 am – 4:00 pm at Bethesda Green. Learn easy ways to green your home and save money.  Presentations will cover conservation, efficiency and renewable energy.  In addition to industry vendors, meet representatives from nonprofits and Montgomery County government. More information coming soon.

Community Forklift Fundraising Extravaganza, Saturday, October 22, 7:00 – 10:30 pm, 4671 Tanglewood Drive, Edmonston, MD. Entertainment by the DC Lady Arm Wrestlers, Silent auction, Wonky Dog food truck, DJ One HeART Muszik, and adult beverages! Must be 21 or over. Community Forklift is a low-cost building materials warehouse open to the general public and a project of Sustainable Community Initiatives, a 501c3 nonprofit. More information on tickets, sponsorships, or to donate a silent auction item.

Food Day, Monday, October 24, 2011, 7:00 pm, at the Church in Bethesda, 5033 Wilson Lane, Bethesda.  You are invited to a local screening of the documentary film “Ingredients” co-sponsored by Church in Bethesda, Bethesda Presbyterian and Graceful Growing Together. The evening will also include short presentations by community members about healthy food, sustainable farms and related topics. Please RSVP if you plan on attending!