composting bins

by Dan Rudt

Chesapeake Bay Trust Spring Education Mini Grants Available

The Chesapeake Bay Trust Environmental Education Mini Grant Program awards up to $5,000 to support activities at schools that help promote awareness of and participation in the restoration and protection of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributary rivers and streams. Grants may be requested for relevant field trips, schoolyard habitat projects, watershed outdoor education, professional development workshops for teachers, or education materials, curriculum, and equipment that promote field-based Bay education. Spring projects should start no earlier than March 13, 2012. The deadline to apply is January 13, 2012. The Mini Grant Program is supported by a partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association Bay Watershed Education and Training Program. For more information, click here for a Word document from the Chesapeake Bay Trust Website.

MD Greenhouse Gas Act Gets Good Grades

Maryland’s 2009 Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act (GGRA) was designed to cut the state’s greenhouse gas emissions 25 percent by 2020. One provision of the Act called for independent studies to ensure that it improves reliability of electric service for consumers and industry, does not cause loss of jobs or significant increase in costs in the manufacturing sector, and will result in new, green jobs in the state.

The University of Maryland Center for Integrative Environmental Research (CIER) announced on November 2 that it has completed a pair of studies and concluded that the 2009 GGRA will not cause problems for manufacturing. In addition, researchers expect it will lead to improved reliability of electric service, as well as new jobs. The Maryland Department of the Environment, charged with submitting a tentative Climate Action Plan (CAP) to Gov. O’Malley by the end of 2011, commissioned the studies. Read more about CIER’s findings here.

Vehicle Cost Calculator

So you just paid a million-seven for your 16 cylinder Bugatti Veyron and you’re wondering how much you should budget for your morning commute? Rest assured, the U.S. Department of Energy has the answer. DOE just added a handy Vehicle Cost Calculator to their Website. The tool allows you to make side-by-side comparisons of emissions and lifetime operating costs of thousands of conventional, hybrid, electric, and alternative fuel vehicles from model year 1996 and newer. The calculator was developed by DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). The Bugatti, by the way, will run you about fifty-cents per mile for gas, and add 27,700 pounds of CO2 to the atmosphere. Have fun with the calculator here.

Free Compost Bins

A November 2nd tweet led to this message on the Audubon Society Website: “Our Chevy  Chase location usually has free compost bins for Montgomery Co. residents. Give us a quick call before you come over to pick them up. 301-652-3606. We also have books and free info on composting.” Can’t beat that!  By the way, the same bins — used to compost grass, leaves and yard debris — are also available from Bethesda Green.

And Before You Compost…

It’s getting cold outside; soup weather is here. Consider, before you throw your vegetable scraps in the bin, turning them into home made broth and sauces. “Charis,” writing on the Mom’s Organic Market blog, suggests freezing your veggie scraps, bones, and apple cores, until you have enough of them to fill a soup pot, then boil them up for broth. You can read her suggestions here. And congratulations to Mom’s, who just opened a new market in Herndon.

Upcoming Green Events

EV Learning Luncheon for Real Estate Professionals!, Thursday, November 10, 11:30 am – 1:00 pm, One Bethesda Center, 4800 Hampden Lane, Suite 200, Bethesda (at the Bethesda Metro Station). Presented by SemaConnect, the leader in EV charging stations and software in the Mid-Atlantic. Join others for an hour long educational session on the importance of EV charging stations in office, multi-family & retail commercial real estate. Registration and lunch are FREE. RSVP:, 410-384-4223.

Bethesda Green Education, Outreach and Marketing (EOM) Group Meeting – Newcomers Welcome! Thursday, November 10, 4:00 – 5:30 pm., 4825 Cordell Ave., corner of Woodmont Ave., Suite 200, above the Chevy Chase Bank, Bethesda. A team of volunteers, EOM supports all of Bethesda Green’s communication efforts. From recycling to energy efficiency, sustainability to green building/design, EOM expresses the organization’s various areas of expertise in a clear and concise manner via various media.  New members are welcome to join. More information here, or contact Bethesda Green Communications Director Dave Heffernan,

“Save Our Streams” workshop, Saturday, November 12, 9:00 am – 5:00 pm, Izaak Walton League National Conservation Center, 707 Conservation Lane off Muddy Branch Road in Gaithersburg. Participants will learn to collect underwater insects and crustaceans – indicators of water quality – with minimal environmental impact. Participants will also learn to test for basic chemical properties, such as the amount of dissolved oxygen available for fish, and how to share results through the Izaak Walton League’s user-friendly website. At the end of the training, participants will learn about sites that need monitoring on Muddy Branch. Extra training will be available for those who want to engage children in learning about stream ecology with fun and simple hands-on activities. A registration fee of $30 includes lunch, snacks and all books and workshop materials. To register, visit For more information on the workshop contact Leah Miller, Izaak Walton League Clean Water Program Director, at 301-548-0150 x219 or

Montgomery County’s first “Know Your Farmer,” Call-In Webinar, Wednesday, November 16, 8:00 pm. Montgomery Victory Gardens hosts “Challenges and Opportunities Facing Organic Agriculture in the 21st Century,” a discussion with Montgomery County farmers Nick and Sophia Maravell.  Nick is the operator of Nick’s Organic Farm in Potomac and one of only four farmers sitting on the prestigious National Organic Standards Board, while his daughter Sophia, who has studied organic agriculture throughout the world, is one of our nation’s new generation of aspiring farmers. Register here.

Montgomery County Green Business Crash Course Webinar, November 17, 8:00 – 11:00 am. Offered in partnership by Montgomery College and Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce. The course instructor will guide you through the application process to accelerate your certification. More info and registration.

Bethesda Green Hungers for Changing the Way We Eat

by Cheryl Kollin, Full Plate Ventures

Forty food lovers, farmers, business people and activists gathered at Bethesda Green’s TEDx Manhattan Viewing Party February 12 and settled in for a day-long live streaming presentation about “Changing the Way We Eat.”  The independently organized TED event featured 22 live presentations from New York on many aspects of the sustainable food movement and the work being done to shift our food system from industrially-based agriculture to one in which healthy, nutritious food is accessible to all.

Dr. William Li presented compelling evidence of how certain foods, like strawberries, hard cheeses, papaya, chocolate, artichokes, fish, and black raspberries can starve cancer.  Brooklyn-based Dr. Melony Samuels, director of the Bed-Stuy Campaign Against Hunger, changed a conventional food pantry into an alternative supermarket to restore dignity among its recipients.  She also transformed one backyard into an urban farm to provide more local fresh produce for seniors with diabetes, heart, and cancer  and by doing so, inspired her neighbors to transform their own yards into 2,000 sq. ft  of gardens for growing vegetables.

Laurie David, author of “The Family Dinner” harkens back to my own childhood and cites all the health, and family bonding statistics on why families should eat dinner together.

The TEDxManhattanViewing Party attracted:

  • 11 countries
  • 40 Bethesda Green viewers
  • 130 viewing parties
  • 14,014 computer logins
  • 46,382 total viewing streams

Ken Cook, president and founder of Environmental Working Group put our nation’s growing demand for local and sustainably-grown food in perspective:  Sales of organic food is now a $25 billion industry, however, it only represents 1% of land farmed today.  Community supported agriculture (CSA) has grown from two in 1986 to more than 4,000 offerings in 2010 but still represents less than 1% of the entire food supply.   He urged everyone to learn about the Farmbill and to contact their Congressional representatives in support of sustainable food systems when the debate for 2013 reauthorization soon begins.

Josh Viertel, executive director of Slow Food, USA believes that with our growing public awareness of food issues,  we need to shift from enlightened eaters to engaged citizens.  He believes that change is not longer just about individuals voting with our forks, increasing the demand for healthy, locally-grown food. We must become engaged in changing the food system within our whole community.  This was the perfect lead-in to our off-line Bethesda Green discussions about our local Foodshed, defined simply as where our food is produced and eaten.

Today there are about 90 farmers markets in the Washington Metropolitan region and agriculture contributes approximately $1 billion annually to our regional economy.  In Montgomery County, our 93,000 acre Agricultural Reserve contributes $250 million in food annually to the local economy, however, there is much more demand than supply to meet our growing desire for local and sustainably-produced food.

TEDx Viewing Party attendees break for a locally-produced and prepared pot-luck lunch. No Costco or Safeway food here! Photo by Bill Franz

In the spirit of eating together, Bethesda Green’s attendees were challenged (in February!) to contribute a locally-produced and prepared potluck dish for lunch.  Our table was graced with a bounty of seasonal, locally-grown, and homemade treats — including Devora’s KOL Foods grilled grass-fed beef, Cindy’s homemade roasted winter vegetables in pastry, Claudia’s freshly homemade Schnitzbread with dried apples and maple glaze and Kristina’s mom’s homemade apricot preserves.  Each dish was labeled with its ingredients and source and none of it came from Costco or Safeway.

Over lunch, our local speakers gave attendees a taste of what’s happening in our area.   Kristina Bostick, Montgomery Countryside Alliance (MCA), spoke of the vision of Montgomery County to preserve farm and open space 31 years ago, and MCA’s work to support farming and protect the land from modern day encroachments.  Mike Kennedy described Fox Haven Farm in Frederick County as an incubator to grow new land-based technologies and entreprenurial businesses on land undergoing conversion to organic status.

Kati Gimes discussed the joy of eating and learning with Slow Food DC members at monthly events at food establishments and farms. Debra Tropp, of USDA, directed the audience to the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food website that consolidates federal funding and knowledge sharing in a one-stop shop.

Jessica Weiss of GrowingSOUL passed around a bin that collected all the lunchtime compostable dishware and food scraps as she explained her zero-wasted sustainable closed loop food system.  She’ll take our food scrap donation, compost it into rich a growing medium and donate it to farms that grow food for food banks and the community.  She does this while driving a truck fueled by waste vegetable oil.

During our afternoon break, Bethesda Green attendees broke into small discussion groups and generated ideas of how our community can educate our community and change our local food system. Bethesda Green, serving as a catalyst for initiating sustainable projects, will cultivate these ideas among volunteer coordinators.

“It was great getting together to view the presentations with a group of people with the same interests so that thoughts and ideas could be shared during the breaks,” said local attendee Lori Wark who manages the website, Adventures in Climate Change.  “I also enjoyed meeting the many interesting people and have begun to think of ways we can work together.”

The TEDxManhattan presentations were recorded in three sessions and are available until 6 pm ET on Feb. 26th.

Session 1
Session 2
Session 3

Cheryl Kollin is principal of Full Plate Ventures, who provides business consulting to clients who serve a social mission.  She hosted the TEDx Viewing Party at Bethesda Green.

Let’s make it happen at your home

Guest blog post by Mike Dyer

On November 23,  a group of local citizens met at Bethesda Green to listen to a lecture on composting given by Alan Pultyniewicz, Recycling Coordinator for Montgomery County’s Division of Solid Waste Services.

Alan Pultyniewicz delivers composting workshop at Bethesda Green.

Composting is a natural process that happens when organic matter breaks down aerobically into a nutritious dirt-like substance that your garden and lawn will love.  The best part about composting is that it’s free to do and keeps waste out of our area landfills.

You can learn more about composting at Montgomery County’s website.  When you are ready to get started, Montgomery County residents may pick up a free composting bin at Bethesda Green.  To schedule a time to pick up a bin, send an email to

Congratulations to Bethesda Urban Partnership (BUP) Director of Operations Jeff Burton and the entire BUP team on dialing up a fabulous day to enjoy the 21st annual Taste of Bethesda Saturday, October 2.

Bethesda’s famous food and music festival, brings over 55 restaurants and four stages of entertainment to Bethesda’s Woodmont Triangle.  Each year, more than 40,000 attendees sample the delicious restaurants, enjoy the live entertainment and visit the kid’s corner for face painting and arts & crafts.

We’ll have to wait to get the official metrics from Jeff, but I’m betting this year was a record-setter.  From the time booths opened at 11 am until closing at 4 pm, a throng of people filled the streets.

Bethesda Green (and the Maryland Energy & Sustainability Cooperative, a BG Incubator company) shared tent space with Bethesda Cares (a community outreach program for the homeless), the BCC Regional Services Center, and other Montgomery County government agencies — all of us providing information to the public about our respective organizations.

We passed out more than 40 composting bins, cleaning out the supply we had on hand.  The free bins, provided by the county and used for leaves and garden debris, may be picked up at Bethesda Green.

Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Bethesda Green Executive Director Dave Feldman share a moment at the Taste of Bethesda.

It being the height of the political season, the Taste of Bethesda also attracted major candidates for numerous local, state and federal offices, including Congressman Chris Van Hollen, who has represented Maryland’s 8th District in Congress since 2002.