Southern Anne Arundel County, or ‘South County’ as deemed by the locals, brings vast plains of agritourism, charter fishing, and bayside tiki bars serving up some of the best Orange Crushes. But more importantly, and less known, quietly tucked amongst marshland and surrounding farms is a Smithsonian gem. This week, the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC) was put on the map for me, and many others by Green Drinks . Annapolis Green is the local nonprofit responsible for the event and many others.
Beyond launching effective community initiatives, Annapolis Green provides easily accessible information on leading-edge knowledge, best practices, and opportunities for hands-on experiences and events on how to lead an eco-friendly life. Their initiatives have helped shaped the greater Annapolis community towards being an environmentally conscious city that appreciates the important climates that surround them. It’s no secret that there are plenty of ways to get on the water in Annapolis, but how about appreciating the other ecosystems like marshes and farmland that call Anne Arundel County home as well? Green Drinks helped to bring them to light.
The panel featured some of the top local environmentalists – from a Smithsonian scientist emeritus and a Plant Physiologist to a Climate Extension Specialist and Ecosystem Science & Synthesis Manager at NOAA. Each speaker highlighted some of the challenges facing the Chesapeake Bay region as a result of climate change, as well as many of the strengths and assets available to all who visit and experience living in Anne Arundel County. More specifically, Dr. Sara Via Ph.D., Professor and Climate Extension Specialist at the University of Maryland underlined the importance of soil health in local agriculture and shared that Maryland farmers are doing a great job of properly caring for and treating their soil reserves.
Then, Anna Chaney, a certified permaculturist and local farmer reaffirmed this statement in her discussion on her farming practices a focus on healing soil. She noted that after the weekend of traveling through rural mid-west state she was not only impressed by her fellow farmers and their efforts, but happy that the community of Anne Arundel County has established better practices than many of the states she’s visited, “I couldn’t believe it- there were rivers running through fields and front yards! You don’t see that anywhere here. We care about our land and are committed to it” she remarked.
The next speaker, Bruce Vogt, an Ecosystem Science & Synthesis Manager at NOAA’s Chesapeake Bay Program Office emphasized the importance of shopping local in order to benefit the environment. Lucky for visitors and locals alike, Annapolis and Anne Arundel County have plenty of ways in which to do so!
Back to Anna Chaney, the speaker I mentioned above, her farm produces local elderberry syrup, honey and more! Get the full agritourism experience of South County at Honey’s Harvest Farm or its sister eco-resort Herrington on the Bay that also happened to cater the event. For the foodie of the group your visit is sure to not disappoint from what I took away from the evening’s menu:
Hemp balls with organic peanut butter and local honey
White bean hummus topped with house-made Curtido
Beet and Arugula skewer with Chevre goat cheese and balsamic glaze
Asian style Chicken Bone broth shots with fresh ginger and lemongrass
Chicken Satay in Belgian Endive cups with Thai peppers and sweet basil
Blue Catfish and risotto
Sweet Potato Pudding with Pepita crunch and candied nuts
SERC, where the event was held, is another great option for those looking to explore Anne Arundel’s natural world – from guided tours to hiking and kayaking trails it’s sure to be your new favorite scientific amusement park. And last but not least, if you’re lucky enough to find yourself visiting or in the right place at the right time, be sure to check out Annapolis Green, one of their Green Drinks events, or anything else they organize or sponsor, really.
Not only are they informative and full of community, you feel as though you’re giving back to a good cause as well! Next month they are hosting the 74th Annual (Green) Rotary Crab Feast where you can join 2,500 (the world’s largest crab feast) of your closest friends for the world’s largest zero-waste crab feast, which is also a major fundraiser that benefits the local community and cultural organizations. The feast is all-you-can-eat and drink!