Burgers and Brews for the Bay: Getting to Know Your Neighborhood Market

 Clagett Cow Panorama

Photo by Kellie Rogers.

Did you know that you can eat your way to a cleaner Chesapeake Bay? That’s right! A few weeks ago, we hosted our first Burgers and Brews for the Bay event at our sustainable Clagett Farm in Upper Marlboro, Maryland. Guests gathered on a beautiful fall Sunday to enjoy craft brews and local food while learning about the importance of local, sustainable food and how it reduces our impact on the Chesapeake Bay and its rivers and streams.

Photo by Emmy Nicklin/CBF Staff.

One event attendee recalled that she felt she had "stepped into a different world," surrounded by organic vegetables, herbs, and grass-fed animals. Clagett was the ideal location for the premier of this event as the farm demonstrates how agriculture can be made both profitable and sustainable.

Notable chefs traveled to the farm to feature grass-fed beef (provided by Clagett Farm Manager Michael Heller) in their own interpretations of gourmet sliders. Six food stations, each paired with a local craft brew, presented those sliders and other fresh ingredients like grass-fed lamb, organic herbs, and vegetables, all produced at the farm.

Today many people believe that we could not feed the world's growing population if every farmer were to switch to sustainable farming practices. But that simply isn't true. A research team from the Erosion, Technology and Concentration (ETC) group stated that contrary to popular belief, the global industrial food system uses 70 percent of the agricultural resources while producing a mere 30 percent of the world's food.

Photo by Emmy Nicklin/CBF Staff.

In contrast, what the ETC group calls "peasant food systems" (or food from local, sustainable farming) are responsible for 70 percent of the world's food with access to only 30 percent of the agricultural resources.

What's more, through more local, sustainable farming practices, the consumer is able to have a better, more personal connection with their farmer and their food. 

Burgers and Brews not only helped educate and connect event participants with their own "neighborhood market," it also highlighted the fantastic work of various, regional programs through educational tables set up around the farm throughout the day:

  • Capital Area Food Bank is the largest organization in the Washington metro area working to solve hunger and its companion problems. The food bank works with our Clagett Farm CSA to deliver fresh organic produce to communities in D.C. with otherwise limited access.
  • Future Harvest Chesapeake Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture (CASA) supports local and sustainable food through existing and prospective farmers. Future Harvest CASA shared their mission to provide education, networking, and advocacy to help build a sustainable Chesapeake foodshed.
  • Attendees could also learn about local and sustainable farming opportunities through our Maryland Grazers Network. The Network, started by Farm Manager Michael Heller, is a farmer-to-farmer mentoring program that pairs experienced livestock, dairy, sheep, and poultry producers with farmers who want to pilot or switch to rotational grazing practices. Grazers Network mentors spoke with visitors who were interested in the benefits of grass-fed products not only for their own health but for the health of the animals and the environment.
  • The Chesapeake Chapter of the Buy Fresh, Buy Local Campaign, which CBF coordinates, was on hand to promote local and sustainable food sources for the betterment of the community, economy, and the environment. The Chapter's Eater's Guide to Local Food in Maryland is a resource, which includes a directory of sustainable farms, locally sourced markets, CSAs, craft breweries, and farm-to-table restaurants.
Photo by Emmy Nicklin/CBF Staff.

Throughout the day at the farm, guests also enjoyed live music by local bluegrass band Fiery Deep. Clagett farm staff set farm equipment out on display nearby, while tractors pulled wagons for hay rides around the property. The six food stations featured Maryland, D.C., Delaware, and Virginia brews including Bold Rock Hard Cider, DC Brau Brewing, Devil's Backbone, Dogfish Head, Fordham & Dominion, and Mully's Brewery. The delicious food menu included items like the "Fire It Up" beef slider topped with spiced tomato sauce and fresh pesto, Moroccan ground lamb sliders with roasted garlic and tomato jam, and a pastrami and Swiss slider with local sauerkraut. Other farm staff cooked fresh homemade vegetarian and meat pizzas in the farm's clay oven. Children and adults sipped on local root beer floats in the main tent where rain barrels and Clagett's grass-fed meat were offered as raffle prizes. Next to the main tent, our Education Program entertained kids climbing on hay bales, painting pumpkins, and printing fish on T-shirts.

Most importantly, event participants learned of the health benefits of grass-fed meats, the major sources of agricultural pollution to our waters, and ways that farms can become more sustainable. Attendees returned to their own neighborhoods later that day, full from a day packed with fresh, local food, craft brews, and learning opportunities that offered insights into delicious ways to help Save the Bay.

—Kellie Rogers

Check out our Facebook Photo Album for more photos of this fantastic and educational day on the farm!


Photo by Emmy Nicklin/CBF Staff.

This Summer, the Crab Bake You Save May Be Your Own

The following first appeared in the Patriot News.

Blue Crab in Widgeon Grass Bed_1200
Grassy habitats are critical for blue crab survival. Photo by Jay Fleming/iLCP.

Crab cakes. Crab soup. Crab Imperial.

Encrusted with a favorite seasoning or lightly broiled as cakes, by the pound or by the bushel, we love our crab meat.

Blue crabs are one of the tastiest and more resilient species that come from the Chesapeake Bay and their fate is the hands of Pennsylvanians.

The good news is total numbers of blue crabs in the Chesapeake Bay are up slightly this year, after the 2012-2013 survey indicated a drastic loss down to 300 million.

The 2015 Chesapeake Bay winter crab dredge survey shows populations of juvenile and adult blue crabs have gone up to 411 million. Most notable is how adult females have clawed their way from 68 million to 100 million.

Blue crab populations fluctuate because of a witch's brew of factors like severe winters, the harvest, and pollution.

Chesapeake Bay watermen supply as much as one-third of the nation's blue crabs each year. About 75 percent of the Bay's adult blue crab stock is harvested. As for Mother Nature, there is little any of us can do to control the weather.

But pollution control is within our grasp. Driven by our commitment at CBF to improve water quality in Pennsylvania as well as the Bay, we cannot think of delicious crab meat without also thinking of crabgrass.

A dense lawn is one of the more effective barriers against what many Americans consider intrusive and offensive crabgrass.

Applying lawn fertilizer can help get the job done. But the runoff of nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment is the leading cause of impairment of 19,000 miles of Pennsylvania waterways.

Agriculture is the largest source of that pollution. Urban and suburban runoff are also key sources.

Pennsylvania delivers half of the freshwater that flows into the Bay. It's easy to see how what we do in Pennsylvania, through agriculture and what we put onto our lawns, affects the health of the Bay and its blue crabs.

The presence of nitrogen and phosphorus in the Bay encourages the explosive growth of algae. Algal blooms darken the water and block light, killing underwater grasses that re-oxygenate the water and provide critical shelter for crabs.

"Dead zones" are formed when blooms fed by polluted runoff quickly die and decay, sucking up oxygen. In order to find oxygen, crabs move to shallow waters where they are caught more easily.

These "Dead zones" also destroy or inhibit the growth of clams and worms, an important food source for crabs.

The Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint is a plan that sets pollution limits for Pennsylvania and the Bay.

Pennsylvania has developed an individual plan to achieve those pollution reduction goals and committed to two-year milestones that outline the actions it will take to achieve success.

Achieving pollution reduction goals and improving water quality in Pennsylvania, with a sensitivity toward how we handle pollution, can ensure an ecosystem in the Bay that supports a healthy blue crab population.

—Harry Campbell, CBF's Pennsylvania Executive Director

Are you a resident of Pennsylvania? Make your voice heard, and tell your County Commissioners to pass a resolution saying Clean Water Counts in Pennsylvania!

What Are You Thankful For?

TikiThanksgivingIt's that time of year again: The time of sweet potatoes, turkey, and pecan pie!This week CBF staff celebrated with a potluck pre-Thanksgiving lunch yesterdayhighlights included oyster stuffing, lentil loaf, and every kind of pumpkin pie you could imagine.

Besides the glorious food, we were also thankful for the incredible efforts across the watershed that many of you have taken to clean up our Bay and its rivers and streams through the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint. Never before have we come so close to restoring the waters we all love. Thank you. Now, let's finish the job!

Finally, as you get yourself in the mood for my personal favorite holiday of the year, check out this yummy butternut squash gratin recipe courtesy of chef Rita Calvert.


Butternut Squash Gratin With Local Goat Cheese and Pecans:
8 to 10 servings
Squash is often sold already peeled and seeded, making this recipe even easier.
-3 1/2 pounds butternut squash (about 2 medium), peeled, seeded, cut into 3/4- to 1-inch cubes (8 cups)
-2 tablespoons olive oil
-coarse kosher salt
-4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, divided
-3 cups sliced leeks (white and pale green parts only)
-1 1/ teaspoons chopped fresh sage
-5-ounces soft fresh goat cheese ( about 2/3 cup)
-1 cup heavy whipping cream
-1 teaspoon curry powder
-1/2 cup pecans coarsely chopped

DessertTableMelt 3 tablespoons butter in heavy medium skillet over medium-low heat. Add sliced leeks and chopped sage; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sauté until tender but not brown, about 15 minutes. Coat 11x7-inch baking dish with remaining 1 tablespoon butter. Spread half of leek mixture over bottom of prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with half of squash and half of cheese. Repeat layering with leeks, squash, and cheese. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Pour cream mixed with curry powder evenly over gratin. Sprinkle with chopped pecans. Bake uncovered until gratin is heated through and cream is bubbling, about 30 minutes (40 minutes if previously chilled).

TO GO: This gratin is a good choice for transporting because it travels well. Either complete the dish at home (wrap it tightly to keep warm) or wait until you get to your destination to add the cream and nuts and then bake.

Enjoy and Happy Thanksgiving!     —Emmy Nicklin

(Photos: CBF's Tiki Thanksgiving celebration. By Emmy Nicklin/CBF Staff.)


Red – Right – Recycling

RecyclingHalyards clanging, dealers dealing, and docks lined with the shoes of the shipboard can only mean one thing around Annapolis in October: The boat shows are in town.  

For the next two weeks, thousands of boaters, yachties, and brokers will live their lives on temporary docks in downtown Annapolis. Breakfasts will be eaten during the morning rush to boats and booths, lunches will be devoured between clients and tours, and libations will be consumed to celebrate sales and purchases. A good time will undoubtedly be had by all, but what will happen to those bagel wrappers and emptied bottles? 

Not to fear. This year Annapolis Green, partnering with WasteStrategies, is helping the United States Yacht Shows demonstrate its commitment to the environment by making recycling available (for the first time!) within the shows. As the biggest outdoor events in Annapolis, recycling at the boat shows not only sends a powerful message to the thousands of visitors who will attend, but will also demonstrate that locals care about the Bay and visitors should, too.

So if you’re in attendance, keep an eye out for the brightly colored "eco-stations" that will be set up around the show. Enjoy your time andif you’re luckyyour purchases, but be sure to keep it between the navigational beacons and remember, "Red-Right-Recycling!"

—Rob Beach

Get Ready for Summertime Picnics!

Clagett2_BlogSummer vegetables at CBF's Clagett Farm. Photo by CBF Staff.

Nothing screams summer like crab cakes, grilled veggies, and rockfish tacos…yum! And no one cooks them better than Chef Emeril Lagasse. A few years ago, in an effort to promote healthy, eco-friendly cooking, Emeril came out to CBF’s Clagett Farm to learn about Vegetable Production Manager Carrie Vaughn’s organic, fertilizer-free way of planting veggies. While there, Emeril talked with Farm Manager Michael Heller as well about his methods of raising healthy, grass-fed cattle. The chef’s entourage even went rockfishing with CBF’s Senior Naturalist John Page Williams and learned about the challenges facing this important and tasty fish!

To get you in the mood for summer this Memorial Day Weekend, check out some of our favorite recipes courtesy of Emeril, our Facebook fans, and local food epicurean Rita Calvert. You’ll see these recipes use healthy, local foods, which not only prove to be good for the environment, but they taste great, too!

—Emmy Nicklin

Check out our complete listing of fresh and local recipes as well as more of Emeril’s “Taste of the Bay” recipes.  

Photo of the Week: Blue Ridge Oyster Fest

View from front of the crowdPhoto by John Rodenhausen/CBF Staff.

A week ago, more than 1,500 Virginians gathered in the Blue Ridge to celebrate Earth Day for the 2nd Annual Blue Ridge Oyster Festival! It was a gorgeous Saturday complete with Chesapeake oysters, Devils Backbone Brewing Company brew, and live music before the rains came late afternoon. CBF was on hand to educate participants about the Bay and to collect the oyster shells for our oyster restoration activities downriver. Proceeds from the event went to CBF and Big Brothers & Big Sisters of The Central Blue Ridge. We're so very grateful for the support of our friends in the mountains!


Notes from the Education Field, Part 3: Lessons from the Smith Island program include the importance of community

All photos by Adam Wickline/CBF Staff.

The early October sun shines brightly as I tie up my skiff into the harbor of Tylerton, one of three towns located on Smith Island, MD. Here is where the Chesapeake Bay Foundation operates its Smith Island Education Center in the heart of town. I walk up the dock where I am greeted by Jessie Marsh, CBF’s senior manager for all our island education centers, including Smith. Jessie is a native of Tylerton but now resides in Crocheron, MD in Dorchester County. With a big grin, Jessie hands me what appears to be bear claws with handles. It’s time to pull some slow-roasted pork shoulders that have been cooking since last night.

Today is the Smith Island Pig Roast, a free community event that has been happening here since 1991 when a group of North Carolina folks started the tradition. It is a chance to gather all those connected to the island for an outdoor meal while enjoying each other’s fellowship. In preparation for the meal today, CBF barbeques around 180 pounds of pork, shucks four bushels of oysters, and acquires a giant tub of macaroni salad. The oysters will be breaded and fried, and the pork will be pulled and slathered in a vinegary sauce.

As I work diligently to pull apart the pork shoulders for the feast ahead, I look around the Smith Island center’s kitchen. Most people have a certain image in their minds when you say “environmental education center”: woods, cabin, dirt, and a bearded man in a flannel shirt directing activities. However, this center is unique in its unobtrusiveness; its ability to blend in with the town in which it resides. The education center here looks like any other house on Smith. And therein lies the beauty of this program: It fits right in with the community.  

DSC_0044The Smith Island Center was established in 1978, and since its inception it has been a part of Tylerton. It is comprised of two houses—one of which is among the oldest in town—that were both family homes at one time. The center’s program involves visiting with locals and discussing the history of the island as it relates to the health of the Chesapeake. Students also experience life as a waterman by setting crab pots, scraping the underwater grasses for soft crabs, and oystering. The goal is to show students the way of life in this community and understand that it is directly connected to the Bay’s health. 

Beyond its education program, the center adds to Tylerton in many ways. The economic impact of the center has been a boon to local people. The ferry is paid to take CBF students back and forth from the mainland to the island. Teachers may purchase part of their groceries for their trip from the Drum Point Market, the only store in the town. If they do not want to cook their own meal, teachers and students have the option of hiring Mary Ada Marshall to cater their meal with her famous baked rockfish or crab cakes, followed by a famous Smith Island layer cake.

CBF’s Smith Island Center also works to culturally enhance its neighborhood. Twice a year it hosts a Ladies’ Night where the hard-working women of the island can relax, swap stories, and eat together. In the spring it provides a chicken supper to accompany the annual Blessing of the Fleet, and in the fall it hosts the Pig Roast. The educators here have helped run the wintertime bingo series, hosted community clean-ups, and assisted families cleaning soft crabs for market. One educator even fell in love, got married, and stayed on the island after she left CBF. Needless to say, CBF has become an integral part of community life in the small town of Tylerton. 

DSC_0281After I finish pulling the pork and washing my hands, I grab my camera and walk outside to see the throngs of hungry residents preparing for the feast. Most are sitting in the sun, talking with friends old and new. As the educators walk out the door with trays of pork and oysters, I cannot help but wonder if CBF’s relationship with Smith Island is a prime microcosm for our role in the broader watershed. In the community, we are a full-blown partner and stalwart neighbor. We take care of our neighbors when trouble arises and work to improve our communities. We hope for a better future and work hard towards a better Bay. 

And now the lines form with our neighbors and friends. After a short prayer, the procession of eaters pass the table and pile on their vittles. The investments CBF has made in the community have been worthwhile, as evidenced by today’s gathering. The investments CBF is currently making in the watershed community will pay dividends in the future when we have a healthy, vibrant Chesapeake and educated future generations that will keep it that way. And that is something all of our neighbors can agree upon. 

—Adam Wickline

Read Parts One and Two of this "Notes from the Education Field" series.


Gearing up for Clean Water Week

  SmithsunsetPhoto by CBF Staff.

In just three days, Marylanders will gather in Easton to celebrate clean water...will you be there?!

"With clean water plans being developed now in every Maryland county," CBF's Senior Land Use Policy Manager Alan Girard says, "we wanted to host a series of events to help people see and hear what's going on locally to meet the Bay's pollution diet. People connect with the Bay in different ways, so it was important to provide a variety of programs that suit different tastes."

And indeed "variety" is the word to describe it. From film previews to poster competitions to concerts and panels, Clean Water Week offers something for everyone. Participants will also learn about what's being done nowand what else we could be doingto chart a new course forward for reducing water pollution in our rivers, streams, and Bay.

With a dozen sponsoring groupsincluding Adkins Arboretum, Easton Main Street, Maryland Chapter of the Sierra Club, Maryland League of Conservation Voters, and Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancyand well over two dozen additional supporting organizations, Clean Water Week is truly a community event.

"People care about clean water, and these events are a chance to show just how much healthy waterways mean to our families and livelihoods," says Girard. "It's a chance to celebrate bringing back the health of our rivers and the Bay and show state and local decision-makers just how strong community support really is for actions that can make our waters fishable and swimmable within 10 years."

—Emmy Nicklin

Clean Water Week is fun for all ages—and admission is free, with refreshments served most nights. Celebrate bringing back the health of local rivers and streams and the Chesapeake Bay with music, film, art, and educational programs throughout the week. Plus, learn the latest on ways to make our local waterways clean and healthy again. Visit www.cbf.org/cleanwaterweek for more details, download the Clean Water Week flier here, and mark your calendar today!

Here's a quick line-up of what to expect:


Gearing Up for the Season's Best Beach Party

When's the last time you danced in the sand? Things here are really starting to gear up for next week's big fete! Our fourth annual "Bands in the Sand" beach party is next Saturday, June 13th.

Here at CBF we work hard -- but we sure know how to put on a party! BITS, as we call it in the office, is great beach party with excellent food, drinks, live music, and a live art auction. This year enjoy the wicked reggae of S.T.O.R.M. and dance to the rollin' rock of Misspent Youth. Misspent Youth's mix of classic and modern rock is more my style, but I checked out S.T.O.R.M.'s website and their video "Hola, Hola" hooked me, hooked me.

One of the (many) fun things about Bands in the Sand is you don't need to drive there. Have a boat? You can anchor off the beach and we'll ferry you in. 

Tickets are $100 each and proceeds support CBF's education, restoration, and advocacy programs.

No one wants sand in their shoes at a beach partyYou can check out pictures from last year's party on CBF's website. Then get some friends together, order your tickets, and prepare to leave your shoes at the dock and chill out on the beach! 

We hope you can join us!