Maryland 3.0: Sprouts Starts to Take Over the Eastern Shore

Just so you know….perhaps one of the most significant “foodie” experiments in the country is taking place on the Mid-Shore.

A young couple, primarily trained in nutritional science and fitness, decide to escape the rat race of the Western Shore and relocate to Trappe to start a food delivery business dedicated to high quality prepared meals with locally sourced produce and meat.

The concept was simple. Rather than send clients the raw materials to make a nutritious meal (think Blue Apron), Sprout owners Ryan and Emily Groll would take it to the next level and actually cook the meals for its customers.

Sprout would do all the work. Whether it be breakfast, lunch, dinner, or even a snack, Ryan and Emily identify local farmers within a 200-mile range that produce some of the most exquisite examples of fruit, vegetables, chicken, pork, or beef in the region to produce meals that could be left at your doorstep twice a week.

Fast-forward one year later Sprouts has become an increasingly important provider on the entire Eastern Shore as well is in Annapolis. With Ryan’s mother in Chestertown, the couple continues to seek a local partner to help as a delivery station, which they call a “Sproutlet,” but they hope to cover the entire Mid-Shore within the next two years.

The Spy spent some quality time with Ryan in his portable kitchen in Trappe to discuss the couple’s courage and conviction it took to start a business of this kind and their aspirations over the next few years.

This video is approximately four minutes in length. For more information about Sprouts please go here

Psst….The Bartlett Pear is Totally Open for Business

The Bartlett Pear has been one of those special gifts that a small community rarely is the recipient of. A beautiful historic downtown building is reactivated by a “from here” young couple who converts it to a first class boutique hotel and dining venue.

After years being mentored by some of the top chefs in America, Alice and Jordan Lloyd returned to their native home of Easton in 2009 to develop their own vision of what hospitality means regarding food and lodging. And throughout a particularly painful economic recession, the Bartlett Pear persevered by offering locally-sourced culinary delights from the morning until the late hours of the night.

But even with that remarkable track record, the “BP” has had to reset its business model to more accurately calibrate what the owners do and when they do it with the realities of being a young family with two children.

The result of this hard-nosed evaluation led to a different approach for the current Bartlett Pear. Jordan, at the height of his earning power as a chef, decided to commute to DC during the week and return to the extremely high-end dining scene there while Alice would operate the hotel and bakery.

The Spy had a brief chat with Alice about these changes as well as her gratitude for the Pear’s very loyal patrons for quickly adapting to its pivots over the last nine years.

This video is approximately one minute in length. For more information about the Bartlett Pear please go here

Wow – The Talbot County Garden Club Turns 100

The Talbot County Garden Club is celebrating its 100th anniversary. Through its civic initiatives and thousands of volunteer hours, the Club has remained an integral part of the community and of Talbot County’s history. The Club’s accomplishments are wide ranging and have continued to enhance the beauty of the community around us.

In 1917, 10 men and women established the Talbot County Garden Club with the initial focus on developing new gardens in the community, restoring old ones and protecting the beauty of the Eastern Shore. Over the years, the mission has been broadened to incorporate the changing needs of the community and the conservation of natural resources but the original themes are still present in the heart and soul of each member.

In celebration, The Talbot County Garden Club will be displaying Centennial banners on Washington, Harrison, Goldsborough and Dover Streets in Easton. The banners will include photos of two of the Club’s various civic projects. The Club will also hold a member luncheon with various state and local leaders invited.

To capture the history of the Club and its accomplishments, The Talbot County Garden Club is publishing a book on their hundred years in Talbot County. The process of planning and writing the book provided us the opportunity to capture our history, especially the lesser known details. It is a vehicle by which we can share our history and accomplishments with our members and the community,” states Missy Warfield, Book Committee Chair and Editorial Director.

A little known fact was that one of the first major projects for the Talbot County Garden Club was the elimination of billboards along RT 50. The effort spanned fourteen years but ultimately resulted in the elimination of 21,000 signs and the unobstructed views while driving through our County. Beautification projects continue today. Most recently, the Club planted 13,000 daffodil bulbs in front of Moton Park along the RT 322 by-pass to commemorate its hundred-year history.

The Talbot County Garden Club has been attributed as the impetus for the Maryland House and Garden Pilgrimage. Over the last seventy-plus years, the Pilgrimage has grown to a nearly statewide event, with the gardens in Talbot County being among the most popular. Proceeds from the Pilgrimage have been used for projects throughout Talbot County including the design and building of the Talbot Historical Society Garden.

In addition to the Historical Society Garden, Talbot County Garden Club has also contributed to many other projects around the County over the years. Created by the Club, the Fountain Garden at Five Corners and the Frances Plate Memorial Children’s Garden at Idlewild Park continue to be maintained by members of the Club. Through all the efforts, The Talbot County Garden Club has been recognized by several national organizations for its work in beautifying Talbot County.

The Talbot County Garden Club’s mission today is to enrich the natural beauty of the environment by sharing knowledge of gardening, fostering the art of flower arranging, maintaining civic projects, supporting projects that benefit the community and encouraging the conservation of natural resources. With over one hundred active and associate members, the Club is well posed to continue its tradition of partnering with the community to enhance the beauty of the landscape around Talbot County for years to come.

Design for You: Thoughts on Architect David Morton by Pamela Heyne

It was always a treat going to dinner at Presqu’ile, the 1820 historic home of Anne Morton Kimberly. Proceeding down the long tree lined drive was a dramatic beginning. Then our cheerful, stylish hostess would greet us, often introducing us to new friends. Sometimes her daughter Babes and Babes’ husband Tom would be guests when they were not traveling. Dinner was usually in the formal dining room, or for more intimate occasions, in a cozy nook off the kitchen.

After dinner we would often sit in the library and continue chatting. A full length portrait of Anne’s son, and Babes’ brother, David Morton graced a wall in an anteroom. The picture showed him standing on a hill, smiling, as he gazed in the distance. David was tall and handsome, resembling his dad, 6’7 Congressman and cabinet official Rogers Morton. David had died in 2003.

I had known David much earlier, long before I moved to the shore and met Anne and Babes. David and I were classmates at Yale School of Architecture. David was a talented and brilliant fellow. I recall a handful of us gathered in his apartment as David explained to us some engineering complexities, and exactly how air conditioning worked! He had a patrician confidence, not surprising since he had spent his teen years at Presqu’ile, attended the Country School, and came from a prominent family. Yet he had a zany side too. His New Haven apartment could only be described as quirky. It sported a black hallway with a giant stuffed toy jolly green giant suspended from the ceiling.

A few years later after graduating from Yale I took a trip to New York with another classmate from New Haven, Tom Welch. We stayed at David’s home in Brooklyn. Its previous incarnation was a toilet seat factory but David was transforming it into a chic series of loft apartments. He had a grand piano in one of the rooms. Leaning next to the piano was a cane. I made conversation about the cane. Turns out it was a gift from Leonard Bernstein.

 8 Old Fulton Street, Brooklyn New York

8 Old Fulton Street, Brooklyn New York

The building was next to the Brooklyn bridge. As we had dinner we gazed out the wide windows as car headlights slipped across the bridge, and the lights of Manhattan glistened on the water. One felt suspended in a kinetic, magical world.

David had a lifelong partner, Tom Cordell, an architect turned artist, of whom Anne was most fond. After David’s death Tom would accompany Anne on trips and was frequent a dinner guest at Presqu’ile. Tom is still alive, and his work is handled by Fischbach Gallery in New York.Anne, who grew up in privilege in Kentucky, had a remarkable openness of mind. Though her husband was a prominent Republican, she hosted a fundraiser at Presqu’ile for Democrat Frank Kratovil and said she “enjoyed her new Democratic friends.”

David grew up in beautiful surroundings and himself created beautiful surroundings. He saw the potential in Brooklyn factory buildings before it was fashionable. Eventually settling in California, he designed homes throughout the US. One of his designs is a spectacular sliver of a house perched on a ridge in Hilo, Hawaii. Now a vacation rental, called “The Falls at Reed’s Island” it is listed in the Frommer guide as one of the “top 15 rooms with a view”.

A few years after David’s death I saw that one of his home designs appeared in Architectural Digest. I took the magazine to Anne and left it with her. She was pleased to see it, but also, really unable to speak. We both realized that a talented person left the earth way too soon.

A while back, on a speaking trip to Chicago, I visited again with old friend Tom Welch. I learned with great sadness that he, a gay man, had been beaten up on the street. In David Morton’s 2003 NYT obituary Tom Cordell was listed as a partner. Now, in Babes’ 2017 obituary, Tom Cordell is listed as a surviving brother-in-law. That little detail said a great deal and pleased me.

Pamela Heyne is head of Heyne Design in Saint Michaels and author of In Julia’s Kitchen, Practical and Convivial Kitchen Design Inspired by Julia Child.

Mid-Shore Culture: Revisiting the President’s Mother with Martha Sexton

Washington College’s Patrick Henry Writing Fellow, Martha Sexton, has built a remarkable career in bringing to light the real lives of this country’s most misunderstood women throughout her distinguished scholarship. With books as diverse as Little Women author Louisa May Alcott to the Hollywood sex symbol Jayne Mansfield, Sexton has used her unique skills to uncover far more realistic, more nuanced, and perhaps a more sympathetic understanding of their motives and character.

During this special week that combines Presidents’ Day, George Washington’s Birthday, and, of course, Washington College’s special convocation celebrating its namesake, it seemed appropriate for the Spy to catch up with Martha, who recently authored a forthcoming biography of the first president’s mother, Mary Bell Washington.

In The Widow Washington, Sexton pushes back on the sometimes dismissive or derogatory treatment of Mary Washington by many famed biographers of Washington as well as brings to light the simple hard realities that faced elderly widows in the 18th Century.

This video is approximately five minutes in length. For more information about the College’s C.V. Starr Center Patrick Henry Writing Fellowship please go here.

Design For You: The Home Elevator by Pamela Heyne

Have you ever considered installing an elevator in your home? Now that more of us are living longer and staying in our homes as long as possible, this technology does add value to the home, despite the total price tag of between $30,000 and $35,000. According to realtor Elizabeth Foulds, “This helps for re-sale when otherwise the buyer may only be looking at single level homes.” There are two basic approaches: the more traditional elevator with a shaft, and the cylindrical futuristic looking pneumatic elevator.

Screen Shot 2017-02-10 at 7.42.06 AMI recently spoke to an expert in the field, Merl Beil, currently with Delaware elevator. He agreed that people should not go for a minimum size elevator, but one that can accommodate a wheelchair. That cab size would have an inside dimension of 3’ wide and 4’ deep. 5’x5’ is the basic inside dimension required for a shaft. This requires a reinforced concrete floor under it, 1’ below the main floor level in the house. In the shaft are pullies and a piston that move the car. Additionally a machine room is needed; it can be as small as 4’ x 4’ and is best if it is as close to the main elevator shaft as possible.

I also spoke to Brent Garner, manager, Talbot County office of Permits and Inspections to get his take on home elevators. He said that in the year since he has been working for the county he has not issued any permits for one. However, he used to work as a builder and installed “a beautiful one” he said. He had installed a window both in the elevator cab and in the shaft, so that when the cab reached the second floor, a lovely view appeared. A mural was installed of the same view on the ground floor, in the shaft itself, so that when the cab was on that level, the window did not look out onto a blank wall. There are many aesthetic options for these elevators. Want different door arrangements or an all glass shaft? No problem. Screen Shot 2017-02-10 at 7.42.41 AM

I specified a home elevator for a traditional townhouse in Georgetown, DC. It featured an exterior elegantly paneled door. These elevators will have two doors, an outside door and then in the moving cab itself, some sort of folding door. The solid sliding doors we see in commercial elevators are rarely specified for residential elevators, because a much wider shaft would be required.

Closing the interior door is mandatory, or else the elevator will not move. Obviously this is a safety feature. However, Merl said many times he would get calls from people complaining the elevator would not work. He would ask, “Did you close the gate?” Invariably the answer was, “Well, uh…no.”

The cylindrical pneumatic elevator is appealing to me, and I have considered it for my own home. This type of elevator operates without cables, but because of variations in air pressure, and has a secondary braking system. A Pneumatic Vacuum Elevator, PVE, unit from Miami Florida has three sizes, 2’6”, 3’1” and 4’4” outside diameter. The largest unit is appropriate for wheelchairs. One must deduct about 7.5” from the outside diameter to get the inside clearance. These don’t require pulleys and a machine room.

There is also a small, shaftless elevator recently introduced to the market, that can be installed in the corner of a living room. It is too small for wheelchair use, and, to my mind, has little appeal aesthetically. However, it is another option to the stair lift.

Pamela Heyne, AIA is head of Heyne Design and author of In Julia’s Kitchen, Practical and Convivial Kitchen Design Inspired by Julia Child. She will give a slide talk about her book Saturday, Feb. 11 at 3:30 at the Book Plate, 112 s. Cross Street, Chestertown. Light refreshments. pam@heynedesign.com

House as Biography: Londonderry’s Manor House with Pat Lewers & Susan Andrews

While it is true that almost every retirement community has something very special going for it, whether it be a golf course, location, or excellent cuisine, Londonderry on the Tred Avon is one of the very few that has a historically significant house on its grounds.

Nestled among Londonderry’s many cottages along the Tred Avon stands the Manor House which was built in 1867. Designed by the 19th-century architect Richard Upjohn, whose credits included Trinity Church in lower Manhattan, the gate designs of the Boston Commons, and more locally, the Parish House at Christ Church in Easton and Oxford’s own Trinity Church, the Manor House not only reflects the exceptional design of the time but also is one of the Mid-Shore’s most important reference points for the history of region with such familiar Eastern Shore names as Armstrong and Pinckney.

Now under the stewardship of volunteers who live in the Londonderry community, the house is not only used as a guesthouse for visitors of the residents who live there but is now open to the public during the day for meetings, weddings, and other special occasions.

The Spy talked to Manor House volunteers Susan Andrews and Pat Lewers a few weeks ago about some of its history, architectural features, and the remarkable charm of a very special home which has withstood the tests of time, a civil war, and two fires.

This video is approximately four minutes in length. For more information about Londonderry and the Manor House please go here

ESLC “Food Fight” Transcript: Woodberry Kitchen’s Spike Gjerde

Editor’s Note: A few weeks ago, the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy hosted an all-day seminar cleverly entitled “Food Fight” to discuss issues related to our food supply in the Chesapeake Bay region. One of the more interesting people that the ESLC brought in that day was the renowned chef and owner of Baltimore’s Woodberry Kitchen, Spike Gjerde. Gjerde is a greatly respected foodie in the mid-Atlantic region, and the Spy was interested in his thoughts about the local state of food, sustainability, and hopes for the future is what and how we eat.  While the Spy recorded Spike’s comments that day, the acoustics in the room and the placement of the loudspeakers produced unacceptable audio quality and we therefore made a decision to transcribe his remarks instead.  They are presented here, lightly edited (with some omissions due to the poor audio quality/inaudibility).

I had made a commitment to purchase from local growers. And the only thing that ever separated me and what we did at Woodberry is that I stuck with it. And the only thing that allowed me to stick with it is I came over time to understand why it was important. That’s it.

Farm to table came along … and became a trend and everybody put a pitchfork up in the corner of their restaurant … but we were first. … Over time, talking to writers, reading what I could read, talking to folks… I started to understand why this was important. And I started to ask a little more from the food I was serving our guests.

Spike Gjerde at ESLC Food Fight

Spike Gjerde at ESLC Food Fight

As chefs, for a long time, for years and years, we talked about how delicious food is. And among ourselves we talked about how cheap it needs to be. That was the sum total of our conversation about our food as chefs. And I was one of those guys for a long time. It took me a long time to understand that I could do it and why it was important.

Chefs are forever going to talk about making delicious food, how to make it delicious. I’m a chef and I can’t get away from that. I love serving delicious food to our guests. The other thing was how cheap could it be, how many pennies could we shave off what we were paying, and we would always talk about food cost. It’s an obsession and it’s how you’re able to make money and I get that.

But, I started to ask different questions about our food. After asking “is it delicious?” and “can we make the economic thing work?” I started asking “is it nutritious?” It’s astonishing to me that chefs don’t have much of a sense or care about how nutritious the food is they are feeding their guests. This started to mean a lot to me. The best example about that is we are moving our baking entirely to locally grown whole grains. That’s something taking us so far outside the norm of restaurants and the baking in this country but I can’t imagine doing it any other way. There are so many good reasons to do that, but health when it comes to grains, whole grains are the way to go. So, we’re trying to make our food healthier.

I think the most important question, what I truly started demanding of the food we served our guests, had to do with something that was entirely economic. I started understanding the role Woodberry is playing within our food system as an economic role. I’ve only come recently to understand that I stopped thinking like a chef, and started thinking about how much value can we return to others.

What I felt we needed to demand of our food is that farmers need good pay. If something we were putting on the table wasn’t paying farmers, it wasn’t good enough for us. And that is the definition of what good food is that I never heard before. And I never heard it in the context of a restaurant, or from a chef. That’s what took Woodberry from being a farm to table restaurant that could have ended up like any farm to table restaurant to what it is today.

In 2014 we returned 2.5 million dollars to our local agricultural alone. In 2015 we hit a couple speed bumps and returned 2.1 million to local agriculture. This isn’t total spending. This is the amount that went back to farmers. We measure it and talk about it because it’s important. Without these dollars, the small-scale farmers, the ones that grow produce, grains, all the meat and poultry, eggs, all the dairy, all the cheese, the salt, all of it, if those purchases are not returning value to growers, I won’t serve it. And that became our definition of what good food is.

One of the frustrations for me as I’ve talked about food with people about what they eat, people can’t speak or think clearly about food. (Spike Gjerde says to the audience: “you’re not them”). But, they’re out there. It’s hard to sit there and say to them: there’s nothing about that chicken sandwich you bought for lunch that’s good – not the bread, not the chicken itself, not the way it was cooked, not the way it got there, none of that. And, I think we’re making some amazing headway around these issues. I’m almost ready to close the circle and start thinking like a chef again. I don’t think I can do it unless I feel clear that everything we’re doing is returning value to growers. And ultimately we want to make meaningful, measureable change in our food system with the dollars we return to our agricultural economy.

I want to see small scale farmers that think about the things we’re thinking about in terms of our environment, our society, work, health. I want to see those guys stick around, get paid for what they do, get rewarded for what they do. …

We started out as one restaurant, we are going to add four… One of the things I’m proudest of is our coffee shops, which have soup, salads, cereal, it’s the same food we serve at Woodberry. Every last thing is from a little farm. …

We’re doing this in Baltimore. And I hope that someday, people can look to us to see how local food can happen, what it can mean to a community of eaters and farmers and growers that supply them, that people can look at Baltimore and say: it already happened there. …

I changed the menu to say: “We source from local farms.” Period! And I put in big letters, I just had to do it, I was fired up. That’s what our menu says now. I should have said it a long time ago, because the message needs to get out there. We’ve got to talk about this and push really, really hard if this is going to happen.

I’ve been told over and over again that what I do is not realistic for most people. I’ve heard it so often I almost started to believe it. … But, it’s happening in Baltimore. It may not be realistic, but it’s happening. And, we are going to go from 2.5 to past 3 million as we do things like this (picks up large can of tomatoes).

I got some tomatoes canned this year. … I would get these beautiful tomatoes and take them to universities and places and they looked at me like I brought uranium into their kitchens. They were like literally: “get that out of here.” They said they needed it canned, and at a certain price point, so we did it. … So, we got Maryland grown tomatoes in these cans with a lot of information, there’s too little transparency in our food system. So, farm of origin, harvest date, yield off of acres… and we paid our farmers five times the going rate of commodity tomatoes. And got em’ in a can. So now I’m a part-time chef, part-time tomato salesman!

I am here to tell you that amazing things can happen when you decide why it’s important. That’s one of the things that’s been lacking. For me, it’s the environment, it’s social, it’s cultural, it’s about soil and soil fertility, it’s about biodiversity, there’s a million good reasons to be doing this. I can’t choose just one. …

We love what we have here. Had I foreseen what we wanted to do… I couldn’t have picked a better place [than the Chesapeake Bay region] to try to do this with food. To work with great people in the restaurant and on the farms around us, in a region that has the Chesapeake for fish and shellfish, that has incredible farmland and growers that work the land. There’s no limit. I would love for us to be able to show the world what’s possible here. … Thank you guys for your attention.

For more information about the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy please go here. For Woodberry Kitchen, please click here.

The New Eastern Shore Farmer with Future Harvest CASA’s Aleya Fraser

Through the support of the Town Creek Foundation in Easton, The idea of creating a support structure for small-scale farmers on the Eastern Shore has now come into being. Last year, the Foundation provided a two-year grant to Future Harvests CASA (Chesapeake Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture) to hire a Delmarva representative with the primary task of developing training and outreach programs to encourage a new generation of sustainable farming taking place on the mid-shore

Last February, Aleya Fraser was selected for this important position. While Aleya had been training in college to ultimately become a physician, she saw another future for herself after working on a small farm in Baltimore and seeing first hand the positive social, economic, and environmental impact that these small enterprises can have on their communities.

The move to the Mid-Shore to work on the Delmarva not only allowed her to work with new and aspiring young farmers in the area, which now is close to one hundred in number, Aleya is also walking the walk and has found a small plot of land near Preston to be part of this movement.

Last week, the Spy drove over to Preston to chat with Aleya about her program and the need to develop small-scale farming on the Eastern Shore.

 

This video is approximately five minutes in length

Design For You: A Boston Kitchen by Pamela Heyne

I was recently in Boston on a book launch. My book shows how Julia Child’s ideas can be relevant today in modern kitchens, with an emphasis on cooking and sit down dining and a de-emphasis on lounging, snacking and TV watching.

I was lucky to be hosted by a couple who had a beautiful kitchen that could easily have been in the book. The lady of the house, who did most of the cooking, said she hated barstools, so none encircled the space. She favored sit down dining, so a dining room was reached from one door, a breakfast room from another. The TV was in the cozy library, remote from the kitchen.

unnamed-3Her appliances were cunningly concealed. The microwave oven was under the counter. The refrigerator is a new “refrigerator column” or “integrated refrigerator”. It basically looks like a cupboard. She also had two “drawer freezers.” They are convenient 2’ deep drawers, and avoid a lot of that rummaging we hate. Her designer was Paul Reidt from Kochman, Reidt and Haig in Stoughton, Mass.unnamed-2

Designers have always had a problem with the bulky refrigerator. The refrigerator in Julia’s French Chef TV show was recessed in an arched niche, making it much more presentable. We architects and designers were happy when “counter depth” refrigerators arrived on the scene a generation ago. Actually 27” deep, the door sticks out past the counter. Now, the “new kids on the block” are the integrated refrigerators. They are designed to sit flush in a 24” cabinet. They also have varying widths, from 18” to 36”. Thermador and Subzero are the leading manufacturers. Some of these models qualify as “energy star”. This means that they exceed federal energy standards.

Interestingly, Julia Child and Paul Child had tried to make the old fashioned refrigerator in their Cambridge kitchen less visible. Designer Paul painted it black and nestled it in bookcases. During my original interview with Julia she had asked me, “It’s more chic, don’t you think?” She also had small freezers under the counter. All these elements are now preserved at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History. That Cambridge kitchen has been enshrined behind glass walls, viewed by millions every year.

In Julia’s day, climate change was not as critical an issue as it is now. Beyond looks, we want kitchen appliances and equipment that help us reduce our carbon footprint. If one decides to purchase a new refrigerator, the government recommends against putting the old one in the garage. It becomes an “energy hog”, can cost the homeowner hundreds of dollars a year to use, and certainly does not help the environment.

Pamela Heyne, AIA has a design studio in Saint Michaels, Md. pam@heynedesign.com. She will give a slide presentation on the relevance of Julia Child’s design and lifestyle ideas at the Saint Michaels Library Dec. 1 at 5:30 pm. The book, In Julia’s Kitchen, practical and Convivial Kitchen Design Inspired by Julia Child will be available for purchase.