volunteers


by Susanna Parker

Bethesda Green Introduces Energy Tool Lending LibraryBGnews_logo

In partnership with the Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection, Bethesda Green is proud to present our Energy Tool Lending Library. This program is intended to encourage members of the community to start thinking about energy efficiency in their own homes. These basic energy tools will be made accessible, with a refundable deposit, so county residents can explore the energy needs and waste that occurs in their homes. These tools are not intended to take the place of a full energy audit, but rather to encourage residents to start thinking about areas in their homes where energy losses may occur.

For more details on the program, including tool instructions and deposit fees, please visit BethesdaGreen.org. 

Cicadas Return to DC

They’re back! A population of the 17-year cicadas known as Brood 2 will emerge from the ground shortly, and dominate all conversation from North Carolina to Connecticut. Once the ground temperature reaches 64 degrees, which should happen within the next week, millions of cicadas will burst forth in a harmless, but noisy, invasion of the East Coast. All along the I-95 corridor, the song of cicadas will be heard, reaching sound levels of up to 90 decibels – the same level as many rock concerts. The males will emerge from the ground first; they’ll mature to adulthood within one week, latch onto trees, and begin to sing for mates. Male cicadas have been shown to sing both individually and in chorus, which no doubt contributes to the overwhelming volume of cicada song. Though many consider them an annoyance, scientists are fascinated by these noisy insects. Their timing, specifically, is the cause of much scientific inquiry – no one knows how the cicadas know when to emerge! Though some theorize that cicadas track time via the tree roots the larvae attach themselves to, there is still the question of how they time their movements so accurately – how do they know when 17 years exactly have passed? For those who are bracing for a miserable time, take some solace in the shortness of their presence above ground. They’ll mate, lay their eggs, and disappear for another 17 years, all in less than 2 months. Invest in ear plugs and look forward to July!

For more information on the cicadas, please watch the Washington Post video here.

Bethesda Green Events

  • APPLICATION DEADLINE: Investor Pitch Training Program, Friday May 17

Don’t miss out on this great opportunity to hone your pitch and get expert feedback from our panel of investors. Open to green businesses in DC, Maryland, and Virginia, this educational program is part of Bethesda Green’s efforts to foster the green economy in the DC Metro region. The program is open to tech and non-tech early stage businesses that have both sustainable products/services and a growth-oriented business model. The deadline is this Friday, so don’t delay! For more details and to apply, please visit BethesdaGreen.org.

Upcoming Partner Events

  • Bike to Work Day 2013, Friday May 17, 6:30 am – 8:30 am, corner of Woodmont and Bethesda Avenue.

Biking in to work on Friday? Swing by the Bethesda Pit Stop, located at Woodmont and Bethesda Avenue. Presented by Bethesda Commuter Solutions, the pit stop will feature DJ entertainment, state and local dignitaries, raffle prizes & giveaways, bike maintenance checks, and plenty of food and drink to fuel your bike ride into work! Register at Bike to Work Day 2013!

  • 5th Annual Volunteering for Business Day, Saturday May 18, 8:30 am – 1 pm, Button Farm Living History Center, 16820 Black Rock Road, Germantown

Gather your colleagues, invite your clients, call on your customers, and join us for this incredible morning of networking and service. Come prepared to roll up your sleeves and get to work; you will be instrumental in providing much needed help to this historic venue in Seneca Creek State Park. There is no charge to participate in this great team-building event; a hearty lunch will be served. For details on the planned projects for the day, and to register, please visit the Corporate Volunteer Council.

  • Montgomery County Green Business Certification Program, May 22, 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm, Crossway Community, 3015 Upton Drive, Kensington

Do you want to certify your business or organization as “green” but don’t know where to start? GreenWheaton and Silver Spring Green are proud to present this FREE Green Business Certification workshop to learn more. Offices, congregations, faith-based organizations, retail stores, and landscape companies are all eligible for County certification as a green business/organization. Featured speakers will include Doug Weisburger of the Department of Environmental Protection, Dave Taghipour of All Eco Center, Jon Widrick of Ascensus Law, and Gary Skulnik of Clean Currents.

Register for FREE at http://greenbuscertification.eventbrite.com/

Susanna Parker is a recent college graduate and volunteer with Bethesda Green. Her interest in sustainability leads her to look for green solutions in uncommon places.

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Farm to Freezer: Preserving fresh, local food to nourish the hungry

by Cheryl Kollin, Full Plate Ventures

Last Sunday 10 volunteers came together to beat the heat by washing, chopping, and blanching fresh vegetables at St. John’s Church in Bethesda. In just four hours volunteers with Farm to Freezer prepared 50 lbs. of tomato sauce, diced zucchini, and roasted eggplant for the freezer. This food will be incorporated into healthy meals throughout the year for Bethesda Cares’ meals program that feeds the hungry in our community.

“Hooray for us!  It was actually a lot of fun and nice people to chat with too,” exclaimed Susan Wexler who joined the prep crew on Sunday. “Someone asked me if I was a professional; I said, well, I have spent a lot of time in kitchens!”

You don’t have to be an experienced cook to join us. The program seems to resonate with people for many reasons. Some people volunteer because they like to work in the kitchen chopping vegetables while getting to meet others. Some parents like this project to work along with their teens, while they earn student service learning credits. We welcome teens ages 13-15 with an adult, older teens and adults.

Diced, blanched zucchini ready for vacuum sealing, then into the freezer

Others like the idea of supporting Bethesda Cares’ social mission. Founded in 1988, Bethesda Cares was originally established as a lunch program to combat hunger in Montgomery County, providing meals to those living on the streets. Homeless men, women and children suffer from hunger, malnutrition and food insecurity every day. To help ensure the homeless in Montgomery County receive a warm and nutritious meal, Bethesda Cares serves lunch six days a week and dinner on Sundays to between 40-75 people that adds up 20,000 meals each year. Today, Bethesda Cares operates as a day drop-in shelter, serving hot meals daily, offering clothing and toiletries, outreach worker case management, referrals for supportive permanent housing, psychiatric counseling, prescription assistance, and eviction and utility assistance to county residents.

Still other people like to support family farmers and our local food system. Every year about 40 percent of good but uneaten food goes into the landfill—wasted along every part of the supply chain from farm to table. The idea for Farm to Freezer was born last January during a conversation I had with Sue Kirk, the executive director of Bethesda Cares.

One day’s produce donation waiting to be prepped for the freezer

“We are the official gleening organization of the Saturday Bethesda Fresh Farm Market, but we get many more vegetables than we can use in our meals before it goes bad,” explained Sue. A weekly donation just from one farm—Spiral Path organic farm has averaged almost 400 lbs. every week this summer, and we are not even at peak season yet! The organic produce that Spiral Path produces is just beautiful and it is a real crime to let it go to waste. Farmers get a tax deduction for their donation.

The spark of a Farm to Freezer project was born and six months later we are up and running thanks to generous support from community foundations, donated kitchens from partner churches, and in-kind donations from businesses including Whole Foods Bethesda, Zipcar, and Honest Tea. Even Compost Crew helps by donating their services to compost our food scraps.

Volunteers are key to the success of this whole project—we seek 10 volunteers for our weekly prep days. People can sign up via Bethesda Cares’ Meet Up site individually or as a group activity with friends, family or colleagues. With continued community support this project has the potential to grow into a self-sustaining enterprise, earning operating funds by selling tomato sauce and other preserved food at local farmers markets and even teaching food preparation classes. Fresh local food comes full circle—from farm, to freezer, to market, back to compost—benefiting our whole community along the way.

To volunteer, sign up on: Bethesda Cares MEET UP

To read more about this program and who it benefits, visit: Farm to Freezer website

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