Good Deal: Eastern Shore Land Conservancy and DNR Preserve 460 Acres on the Bohemia

The Eastern Shore Land Conservancy (ESLC), in partnership with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR), is preserving 460 acres in Cecil County for the future development of a new state park. The Board of Public Works unanimously approved the acquisition this morning.

The new water-access site, located near Chesapeake City, will eventually be called Bohemia River State Park and will complement existing Maryland Park Service properties in the area – Elk Neck, Fair Hill, and Sassafras. This is a big win for land conservation on the Eastern Shore, and more specifically, Cecil County.

“Over the course of the past 27 years, ESLC has been involved with literally thousands of Eastern Shore farms. OBX Farms is truly one of the most beautiful we’ve ever assisted in preserving!” said ESLC Executive Director Rob Etgen. “This purchase will keep the land open, free from future development, and most exciting of all, available to the public for generations to come. ESLC is incredibly proud to play a role in this important legacy.”

The acquisition of OBX Farms was fully funded by Program Open Space, which preserves natural areas for public recreation, and watershed and wildlife protection across Maryland.

In addition to existing agricultural land that will most likely continue being farmed, approximately 14,000 feet of riverfront property will now be available to the public for kayakers, standup paddle-boarders, canoers, and other activities. The property’s rich network of riparian forests and tidal and non-tidal wetlands will provide for habitat restoration and water quality benefits.

Once the acquisition is complete (projected Fall 2017), the department will develop an interim public access plan for the property, which will enable visitors to enjoy passive, nature-based activities until a master plan can be developed. Public access to the new park should begin during the spring or summer of 2018. The public will have numerous opportunities to comment on the master plan as it is being drafted.

For more information, please contact ESLC’s Communication Manager, David Ferraris, at dferraris@eslc.org or 410.690.4603 x165.

ESLC Climate Change/Sea Level Rise Half-Day Conference Set for April 1

The Eastern Shore is the third most susceptible region to the effects of sea level rise in the country. The Eastern Shore Land Conservancy (ESLC), a progressive, environmentally-focused nonprofit organization headquartered in Easton, will host the half-day conference, Unsinkable Eastern Shore II: Rural America Responds to Climate Change, on Saturday, April 1st from 9am to 1pm. The event will be held at the Eastern Shore Conservation Center – the former McCord laundry facility which ESLC rehabilitated and has since occupied with several other conservation groups since 2015.

The event is $20 to attend and includes breakfast, two panel discussions, and presentations by two keynote speakers. Also included with admission is a copy of speaker John Englander’s book High Tide on Main Street, which Politico Magazine called “one of the 50 most important books to read in 2016.” Attendees may register online at eslc.org/events, but are encouraged to do so soon, as seating is limited.

The conference will be hosted by ESLC’s Coastal Resilience Manager, Brian Ambrette, who has been working with town and county government on the Mid and Upper Shore for more than two years, helping to bring awareness about the effects of climate change – most notably, sea level rise – as well as working to help implement sound planning in the form of mitigation strategies and town/county comprehensive plans.

“I hope our audience will learn how their communities and their neighbors are embracing change as an opportunity to innovate and make the systems we rely on stronger and greener”, notes Ambrette. “I am excited about the new ideas that our keynote speakers will inject into the conversation.”

While the conference panels boast a mix of knowledgeable educators and emergency management professionals, the inclusion of oceanographer, author, and consultant John Englander is perhaps the most impressive addition to the conference. As a leading expert on sea level rise, Englander’s broad marine science background coupled with explorations to Greenland and Antarctica has allowed him to see the big picture of sea level rise and its societal impacts. He has served as chief executive officer for such noteworthy organizations as The International SeaKeepers and The Cousteau Society. Interestingly enough, legendary Captain Jacques Cousteau tapped John to succeed him as CEO.

Please contact ESLC’s Communication Manager, David Ferraris, at dferraris@eslc.org or 410.690.4603 x165 for more information.

Shore United Bank contributes $10,000 for ESLC project in Cambridge

Shore United BankShore United Bank, a member of Shore Bancshares community of companies headquartered in Easton, Maryland recently contributed $10,000 towards the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy’s (ESLC) Phillips Packing Plant revitalization project in Cambridge. The check was presented by Shore United Bank’s President and CEO, Pat Bilbrough, to ESLC’s Executive Director Rob Etgen and Center for Towns Director Katie Parks (pictured).

A joint venture between ESLC and Baltimore’s Cross Street Partners, the project aims to repurpose the last remaining structure (referred to as ‘Plant F’) of the famed Phillips Packing Company empire into a hub for creative food production, retail and small business, and entrepreneurial initiatives that build off of the Eastern Shore’s agricultural resources and growing local food economy. The 60,000 square-foot building has been renamed The Packing House.

For decades, the Phillips empire employed thousands in Cambridge while also purchasing millions of dollars in product from Delmarva farmers annually. The building, while neglected and vacant since the 1960’s, features an open floor plan, soaring ceilings, and the opportunity to retain many historic architectural features that will impart the space with an authentic, Eastern Shore manufacturing aesthetic.

“Things are looking up for your project,” said Bilbrough. “We believe it is a great thing for your organization and the local community. Land conservancy does not need to be mutually exclusive to placing conservation easements or economic development, and this project proves that in a way very similar to the McCord/Conservation Center project.”

The Cannery reuse plan is building around a food and farming exchange, which includes a microbrewery, kitchen incubator and market, shared use office innovation hub, oyster bar, and event space.

For information about The Packing House project and/or ESLC, please contact ESLC Center for Towns Director Katie Parks at kparks@eslc.org 410.690.4603, ext. 155. More information can also be found at thePackingHouseCambridge.com.

Eastern Shore Land Conservancy
Eastern Shore Land Conservancy (ESLC) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit land conservation organization committed to preserving and sustaining the vibrant communities of the Eastern Shore and the lands and waters that connect them. ESLC helps save land and promote sound land use planning from the C&D Canal in Cecil County all the way to the Nanticoke River in Dorchester County. More at www.eslc.org.

Senator Ben Cardin Set to Visit ESLC Cambridge Project March 10

Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) will be visiting Cambridge, Maryland on Friday, March 10, 2017 to join join representatives from the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy (ESLC), Baltimore’s Cross Street Partners, and Preservation Maryland for a tour and media availability regarding The Packing House – a historic tax credit rehabilitation project.

In addition to addressing the media and answering questions immediately following the tour, Senator Cardin will spotlight his new legislation to improve the federal historic tax credit program, which will benefit rural communities and small towns across Maryland.

A partnership between ESLC, Cross Street Partners, and the City of Cambridge, The Packing House (ThePackingHouseCambridge.com) is an urban revitalization project that seeks to repurpose the historic, 60,000 square-foot Phillips Cannery building in Cambridge into an active, mixed-use plan for office and food-related innovation.

This structure is the last standing piece of the storied Phillips Packing Company empire, which employed thousands in Cambridge and served as the largest supplier of rations to American troops in World War II.

The project was recently awarded a $3M historic tax credit for revitalization of a structure located within an underserved community. Plans include an array of food-related uses that acknowledge and support local hunger and nutrition needs, building off of the Eastern Shore’s agricultural resources and a growing local food economy of growers, makers, distributors, retailers, and restaurants.

The ambitious vision to renovate and repurpose the former Phillips ‘Factory F’ is key to the continued revitalization of Cambridge, including Cannery Park – the adjacent 6.6 acres of land which includes the Cambridge Creek headwater area that will begin a stream restoration process this coming spring.

The event is free and open to interested members of the public, friends of ESLC, and the media. For members of the media planning to attend the grand opening of the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center immediately afterwards, a bus will be held at the Hyatt Regency Cambridge so that they will be able to attend both events. Please contact ESLC’s Communication Manager, David Ferraris, at dferraris@eslc.org or 410.690.4603 x165 for more information.

LOCATION: Phillips Packing Plant, 411 Dorchester Avenue, Cambridge, MD 21613
AGENDA: Arrive at Packing House 11:15am; Tour the building; Press availability 11:40am; Depart Packing House at 12:00pm.

Phillips Packing Company in Cambridge Selected to Receive Historic Preservation Tax Credit Award

Eastern Shore Land Conservancy (ESLC) announced today that the Phillips Cannery ‘Factory F’ received a $3M (of $9M available) Maryland Heritage Structure Rehabilitation Tax Credit award reservation for fiscal year 2017 from the Maryland Department of Planning. The project is amongst only eight projects selected statewide based on the urgency of the need for rehabilitation and the strategic location of the project. The rehabilitation of the Phillips Cannery will not only help Cambridge revive one of Maryland’s precious resources, but also assist in sustaining vitality in the community. The tax credit program is regarded as one of the most effective tools for revitalizing historic communities.

A joint venture between ESLC and Baltimore’s Cross Street Partners, the project is moving forward in an effort to repurpose Factory F as a hub for creative food production, retail and small business, and entrepreneurial initiatives that build off of the Eastern Shore’s famed farming resources and growing local food economy. More specifically, the “Food and Farming Exchange” would include a microbrewery, kitchen incubator and market, shared-use office innovation hub, oyster bar, and event space available for rent to the community.

But the financial piece of the puzzle isn’t complete just yet. With a price tag of $18.5M, the new Phillips building still faces stiff headwinds in raising additional funding and securing tenants who will bring the renovated building to life. With an incredible commitment from town/county/state/federal government, along with the support of the food and farming communities of Cambridge and the Eastern Shore, ESLC believes that a rehabilitated Phillips Factory F would provide enormous upsides for everyone involved.

In an effort to combat sprawl on Maryland’s scenic Eastern Shore, ESLC founded its Center for Towns Program in 2011. Director Katie Parks leads the organization’s offer of technical support with projects involving the planned conversion of empty lots, underused or rundown buildings, and other available space within a town’s already existing infrastructure as an alternative to overdevelopment of rural areas.

The 60,000 sq ft historic Factory F building is significant due to its association with events that shaped the history of Cambridge. Originally built in 1920 as a furniture factory, the building later became part of the Phillips Packing Company empire which employed thousands in Cambridge, purchasing upwards of 1 million dollars in product from Delmarva farmers annually. The building, while neglected and vacant since the 1960’s, was the only structure spared from demolition and features an open floor plan, soaring ceilings, and the opportunity to retain many historic architectural features that will impart the space with an authentic, Eastern Shore manufacturing aesthetic.

New Conservation Easement Announced in Caroline County

Jim Saathoff, owner of Me & Jimmy, Inc., has recently granted a conservation easement on a 40 acre parcel in Caroline County to the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy (ESLC) and Maryland Department of Natural Resources. The easement preserves a small horse farm along a stretch of the Choptank River with important riparian wetlands and forest.

For Saathoff, this property was his last that hadn’t already been permanently preserved with a conservation easement. “Now all of my properties are in preservation and will continue to be used as they should be, for farming and natural resources, not development,” said Saathoff.

Saathoff’s other properties are all preserved with easements, including his late wife Sue’s family farm, The Good Luck Farm, located in Dorchester County. A conservation easement protects the forest habitat for the once federally listed endangered Delmarva Fox Squirrel, as well as hundreds of acres of productive agricultural land.

Saathoff is a life-long farmer and proponent of farmland preservation. His commitment to farmland preservation will ensure future generations have access to the land and the life that has made him what he is today. ESLC is honored to have been a partner in the preservation of this latest piece and look forward to our continued relationship ensuring that they all remain available forever for farming, future generations, and the plants and animals that call them home.

For information about conservation easements and permanently protecting land on the Eastern Shore, please contact ESLC Land Conservation Program Assistant Michelle Funches at 410.690.4603, ext. 169.

Eastern Shore Land Conservancy

Eastern Shore Land Conservancy (ESLC) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit land conservation organization committed to preserving and sustaining the vibrant communities of the Eastern Shore and the lands and waters that connect them. More at www.eslc.org.

Award-Winning Chef Spike Gjerde to Headline “Food Fight!” Planning Conference

The Eastern Shore Land Conservancy (ESLC) has released the agenda for its 17th Annual Planning Conference,“Food Fight! Healthy? Sustainable? Realistic?”. The all-day affair, to be held on Thursday, November 10th at the Chesapeake Bay Beach Club in Stevensville, MD, boasts an impressive list of national and regional speakers. Attendees should expect to be engaged in interactive sessions with the goal of helping to discover what an optimal food system based on Eastern Shore agriculture would look like in the future.

food-fight-master_cropWoodberry Kitchen’s Spike Gjerde, Baltimore’s first winner of the James Beard Award for Best Chef(Mid-Atlantic), was recently confirmed as a speaker at the conference. Gjerde’s presentation, entitled “From My Perspective – My Take on Healthy, Local, and Sustainable”, will provide an informed view of what a celebrated chef in a major metropolitan restaurant goes through on a daily basis in order to prepare and serve healthy, locally-sourced food.

International speaker Dr. Solomon H. Katz, Director of the Krogman Growth Center & professor of Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania will speak at the conference, presenting “A Biocultural Perspective on Food, Food Waste, and Beyond.” Other speakers include American University Professor T. Garrett Graddy-Lovelace, Chesapeake Bay Foundation Scientist Beth McGee, FRESHFARM Co-Founder Ann Yonkers, and many more.

Home to some of the region’s richest soil, the Shore produces a substantial portion of Maryland’s wheat, soybeans, and corn, as well as poultry. Whether you operate a farm, food-related business, or simply do the food shopping for your family and would like to know more about where it comes from, this conference will leave attendees better informed to make decisions that can positively affect our region’s overall health and sustainability.

One issue that will be examined during “Food Fight!” is that of food waste. Whether in the production, distribution, consumption, or waste management aspects of its lifespan, the millions of pounds of wasted food our system produces has deservedly become a hot topic.

“It’s shocking to learn that a region with so much agriculture has such severe food access issues,” says ESLC Program Assistant and conference organizer Rachel Roman. “Approximately 40% of the food that is produced goes to waste before it even reaches the grocery store. Dr. Katz will talk extensively about this problem as it often goes unnoticed in our daily lives.”

Interested attendees can register online at eslc.org/events. Act quickly, as early bird pricing has recently been extended until Saturday, October 15th ($45 instead of $55). Students are encouraged to attend the conference with a discounted ticket price of $25.

ESLC has included free admission to a screening of the food-based documentary “In Defense of Food” (based on the book by Michael Pollan) with each conference ticket, which will be held the evening prior to “Food Fight!” at the Eastern Shore Conservation Center in Easton, MD.Tickets to the film screening may be purchased separately for $10.

For more information about the conference, please contact ESLC’s Program Assistant Rachel Roman at 410.690.4603 (x156) or rroman@eslc.org.

About Eastern Shore Land Conservancy
ESLC is a private, nonprofit land conservation organization committed to preserving and sustaining the vibrant communities of the Eastern Shore and the lands and waters that connect them.Our vision for 2050 is an Eastern Shore where towns are vibrant and well defined; farms, forests, and fisheries are thriving and scenic; historic, natural, and riverine landscapes are maintained. www.eslc.org.

Choptank Odyssey: Book Signing with Tom Horton and Dave Harp

Enjoy this free event on Thursday, October 27th at Easton’s Eastern Shore Conservation Center as both author Tom Horton and photographer Dave Harp will sign books from their latest release, Choptank Odyssey: Celebrating a Great Chesapeake River. Doors will open at 4pm with the event running from 4:30pm to 6pm. The event is hosted by the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy, Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy, and Adkins Arboretum.

choptank-odysseyAttendees should expect thoughtful conversation and stories about the how their project came to fruition. This book of more than 150 vibrant photographs and seven essays depicts the natural and human history, science, and culture of the Delmarva Peninsula’s largest river – the Choptank.

From its beginnings at upstream springs and farm ditches, to its broad estuary below Cambridge, Choptank Odyssey explores the river’s inhabitants and the impacts of human activity on the natural environment. Generations of waterman and farmers, oystermen and oyster shuckers, crabbers and crab pickers, commercial fisherman, and a “turkler” are just a few of the folks you’ll become acquainted with when exploring this latest release from Horton and Harp.

“Horton knows people like Harp knows lenses. He can tease out a character and tell a story that smacks of Bay brine and crab sweat, just as his colleague cocks his camera in such a way as to capture—just so—the essence of a Bay moment.”—Chesapeake Bay Magazine

Refreshments and drinks will be available for sale.Attendance is free, but attendees are asked to register at www.eslc.org/events.

Bummer: Chesterfield (Carter Farm) still Lacks Development Partner

For the last several months, the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy (ESLC) has worked to advance community conversation around the eventual development of Chesterfield (Carter Farm), in Centreville, Maryland. ESLC views Chesterfield as a once in a lifetime opportunity for Centreville to redesign its own front porch on the beautiful Corsica River.

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ESLC held formal and informal meetings with Centreville residents and town representatives, allowing a transparent and public process that established guiding considerations for development. Coupled with community input, planning and design industry professionals generated innovative ideas and refined development parameters, carving out the following design considerations: (1) Access for public open space and recreation, including integration into the town trail system; (2) Preservation of the Carter farmhouse; (3) Agricultural components, including robust community gardens and other scalable uses; (4) Commercial such as a destination inn, market and/or farm to table restaurant; and (5) Housing – a mix of types, sizes and price points.

The resulting vision celebrates a mix of commercial, residential, and abundant community uses. ESLC’s vision leverages off public access connections, including the Carter Farmhouse and a new destination farm to table inn as amenities, which would further connect communities to the land and retains the farm’s agricultural heritage though community gardens. The vision integrates with the trail system around Town, opens access to the Corsica River, and invites Town residents and visitors onto the property as a hub of commercial and community activities with a balance of housing to add to a core of downtown energy.

The organization’s contract on Chesterfield ended on Wednesday, September 21st at 5pm, as the conservation group was unsuccessful in recruiting a development or financial partner to advance the project. Also without success, ESLC approached the current owner with a proposal for a partnership that would have pushed the development towards the community vision with ESLC fundraising to offset costs of added community amenities.

While the nonprofit group’s contract has lapsed, ESLC remains committed to Centreville. According to ESLC Center for Towns Director Katie Parks, the priority is “to support the outcomes of the community conversation and determine how they may be applied to the property now, or be set in place for when the property is developed in the future.” ESLC will share the conceptual visual with the town and public, including a narrative outlining their process, lessons learned, and recommendations.

The outpouring of support and ideas from the community was inspiring to ESLC and yielded a vision rooted in community, which prioritizes public access to the land and water. And while turning that vision into reality at Chesterfield is elusive today, Centreville can still grow by choice on this farm and others. The organization is deeply grateful to the communities and leadership of Centreville for their partnership in reimagining this gem.

ESLC 17th Annual Planning Conference Request for Proposals

The Eastern Shore Land Conservancy’s 17th Annual Planning Conference, “Food Fight! Healthy? Sustainable? Realistic?” will be held November 10th at the Chesapeake Bay Beach Club, Stevensville MD.

food fight

This conference will take a fresh look at one of the most basic human needs- food!

We welcome proposals for speakers who want to engage attendees in highly interactive sessions to evaluate how we are planning for a better, more equitable, food system built upon Eastern Shore agriculture. As the Eastern Shore’s #1 land use and our region’s biggest economic driver, agriculture continues to play a pivotal role in how the region prospers.

Who benefits from the current food system? Can Shore agricultural or behavioral shifts improve human, societal, and environmental health? What changes to our food system are realistic?

Topic areas may include:
– How we define “local” foods
– The reality of GMOs
– Crop diversity on the Eastern Shore
– Food deserts, injustice in the food system
– CAFOs and how the industry meets consumer demands
– The environmental impact of large scale agriculture vs. small scale
– Value-added agriculture and artisanal foods
– Aquaculture, urban agriculture and other innovative practices
– History of Eastern Shore agriculture
– Organic and sustainable farming
– Soil health
– Ability to feed the growing global population
– Mechanized labor vs. manual labor in food production

Ideal proposals will be short, but provocative – setting aside time for vigorous audience participation and interaction. More can be found on the event registration page: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/ 17th-annual-planning- conference-tickets-27078772337
If you are interested in submitting a sketch proposal for the 17th annual conference please submit your application no later than Friday, September 16, 2016 to Rachel Roman at rroman@eslc.org.