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Category Archives: Howard County

Spring Visitors

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Just a while back, the local online papers, Columbia, Ellicott City and Elkridge Patch asked readers to recommend places to take out of town visitors to Howard County.

Want a locavore take on this? I thought of so many great places not included on their list. After all, how could you not recommend Clark’s farm? Or Larriland? Or Brighton Dam? Or Oella? Or, the other dozen I will cover in some future posts.

Let’s start with Clark’s Farm. Adjacent to Centennial Park. The walk through the Enchanted Forest Tree Maze is worth the price of admission. As well as the petting zoo, the wagon rides, the “Old Lady Who Lived in a Shoe” and much more. Nora and Martha have made this place special for children, and adults who carry that sense of whimsy found in those old fairy tales.

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I did a post the day I visited the farm in April 2013. The farm is open April through October.

My second favorite springtime place to take friends is Brighton Dam. On the county line. The azalea gardens are legendary. Part of the Triadelphia Reservoir land, the 5 acre gardens are the place to go in late April and early May. The water authority, WSSC will publish a news release on their home page that documents status of the azaleas. You can picnic below the parking lot on the downstream side of the dam. The gardens have trails that work well for strollers, but a little tricky for wheelchairs. Still, this place is full of couples, families, individuals, bird watchers, photographers, and those just wanting to take a stroll on the beautiful spring days.

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It doesn’t get much better than this.

Moving on to May, strawberry picking at Larriland. A trip to this family owned farm is a real treat. Weekends there will be wagon rides, food, things for the families to do. We go out to Larriland at least six times a year. We do strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, cherries, tomatoes and apples. Sometimes more. Like flowers. Or beets. After picking fruit, we head up to the Town Grill to sit outside and eat their wonderful messy barbecued pork.

Berry picking. We love to do. Bring them home. Clean them. Freeze whole berries to add to a glass of white wine, and it feels like spring no matter when you have them.

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Finally, in this post, head over to Oella. Walk the Trolley Trail. Visit the Banneker Museum. Have lunch at BricknFire Pizza, at the Breadery.

Pick up Angus beef steaks at JW Treuth, a traditional butcher shop just down the road from the Breadery. Wander the tiny roads that lead down to the Patapsco. Just across the river from Old Town Eliicott City. Which will be the subject of my next post later this week.

Oh, and if you want cherry blossoms? Howard County has those too. Check out Blossoms of Hope events. And, we haven’t even made it to summer yet. You have lots of exploring to do.

There’s An App For That

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For the Belmont Bioblitz. Did you know we have a project on the iNaturalist website? Populated by Howard County Public School Middle and Elementary School children. The first blitz. Last fall.

What is a BioblitZ? How do I help with one? How do I record the species observed? How do I document what I see, and identify it? This May two more Howard County 7th grades will descend upon the Belmont site, in Elkridge, and with the help of dozens of volunteers and subject matter experts will spend four days adding observations to the expanding collection to document the species found on the historic grounds.

Belmont is a treasure. In many ways. Historic. Relatively pristine. And, located where the coastal plains meet the Piedmont plateau.

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If you ever wanted to volunteer to do something absolutely positively fun, exciting, rewarding and important, check out the possibility of becoming a volunteer at the Howard County Conservancy. As a naturalist, we learn along with the children, more and more about our local environment.

Today my small training group, armed with our smart phones and the iNaturalist app, went out to train and get a chance to record what we found in four of the zones on the property. We found quite a bit of fungi on the trees in our zone. Like this one.

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Which we uploaded and will monitor to see who may identify it for us.

The school children have such a great time with this event. They become citizen scientists. They learn to observe, to record, to research, and to monitor scientific data taking and sharing. This year the two schools participating are Ellicott Mills and Thomas Viaduct Middle Schools.

More info to learn how to volunteer here. Yes, I am shamelessly recruiting volunteers. I can see on our data sheets that we have an incredibly busy April and May, with dozens of opportunities to lead hikes, lead activities and to support those hike leaders. Training is taking place this month.

Come take a few walks with us. The views are awesome, and so are the people.

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Telling Tales

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World Storytelling Day! The Equinox weekend. Did you ever want to attend something truly awesome? Like stories told by people who are absolutely incredible at it?

Here’s your chance. My favorite non profit, where I volunteer, is holding a storytelling day of its own. With three amazing performers. For families and adults. Two venues. One, for the whole family. One, focused on the little ones. In the Howard County Conservancy Gudelsky Center in Woodstock. Upstairs, for the families and adults. Down in the Nature Center, for those with little ones to be spellbound by the weaving of the stories.

Saturday March 21st (yes, we know the equinox is Friday but Saturday the children aren’t in school). 1-4 Pm. Details here.

Vernyce Dannells, Kristin Pedemonti and Walter Jones, Jr, are have their way of telling tales. Drawing you in. Making you smile, dance, sing along maybe.


Kristin Pedemonti. As conduit, connector and catalyst Kristin builds bridges between people and cultures, breaking down stereotypes and barriers through Traditional and True stories of acceptance, perseverance, possibility, resilience and understanding. Her stories are collected through worldwide travels as well as interviews with artists, educators, entrepreneurs, innovators and students in the developing and developed world. Kristin’s tales illustrate that everyone has a story, those stories matter and we all have the potential to make an impact on the world around us, no matter what our age, background, gender or geography.

Award winning, cause-focused storyteller, speaker, author, lead facilitator for CGI member Artfully Aware and TED Talks talent search finalist, Kristin Pedemonti performs world-wide at festivals, conferences, TEDx, universities, schools corporate and special events. She’s performed throughout the US including NYC & globally in Belfast, Berlin, Bogota, Gdansk, London, Nairobi, Naples, Paris, Stockholm, Warsaw & beyond..

In 2005 Kristin sold her home & most of her possessions to create/facilitate Literacy Outreach in Belize, where she has conducted programs for 33,000 youth and trained 800 teachers how to use their own cultural stories in schools. Her book, Building Bridges Between; Connecting Culture, Classrooms & Communities is slated for publication. In 2013, Kristin facilitated Artfully Aware’s Community Created Book Project in Kenya, Ghana and Haiti. The resulting books, Ghana Is… and Perseverance & Possibility in Kenya are now available.


Vernyce Dannells. Vernyce is a multi-cultural performance artist whose “jumble jungle” background informs much of her work. She honed her abilities while producing arts and culture features for National Public Radio affiliates in the Rocky Mountain and Pacific Northwest. Now, whether opening Honolulu’s famed Talk Story Festival or scaring folk witless at A Philadelphia’s Teenager’s Inc. Ghost Walk, watching her breathe life and light (and sometimes fright) into a story gives a new twist to Shakespeare’s line, “The tale’s the thing!”.

Author of the chapbook Temporarily Abated, published by Cadenza Press, and the recently released Arcadia Press edition in its historical places series, Overbrook Farms, Vernyce uses her pen, voice, body and choice to weave spirited, indelible enchantments on her audiences.


Walter Jones, Jr. Multi-instrumentalist Walter Jones Jr. sings, dances and encourages audiences of all ages to sing along, dance along and join the journey as we explore various cultures, historical events and colorful characters from your favorite stories from around the world..

Walter Jones Jr. has been a public school special educator, entertainer and children and families minister for over 30 years. He has a natural rapport with children of all ages. He has been honored as a “Sign of Hope” in the Baltimore community by the mayor and city council; “Teacher of the Year” at Matthew Henson Elementary school; featured artist for the Grand Opening of the Richmond Children’s Museum; and featured artist for the Summer Reading Programs for both Baltimore County and Baltimore City public libraries..


I took the descriptions from their biography on the Conservancy website. I can’t tell you how cool this event is going to be. You have to experience it yourself. For me, the joy of volunteering at such an incredible place is seeing the commitment of the staff and the various committees to bringing world class events to our community.

The “New” Farm in Town

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Or, at least the newest farmstand. Opened in October. Providing beef, pork and poultry. In small and large quantities.

Carroll Farm to Table. Off Frederick Rd. past Kiwanis-Wallas park. Owned by descendants of Charles Carroll, signer of the Declaration of Independence.

We first heard about them being there in our fall Friends and Farms newsletter. You could purchase whole or half Berkshire heritage pork. Also in the works was a potential for chicken to come to us sometime in 2015.

We finally got to the farmstand when they were open a few Saturdays ago. At least my husband got there. The stand is open Wednesday afternoons and Saturdays. He asked for a price sheet, and as he was really interested in some of the cuts of Angus beef, they talked a bit and gave him a free sample of their pork lard.

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Which found its way into tonight’s dinner.

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A wee bit of lard mixed with the cider and chicken stock to flavor the cabbage and kale and apples under the kielbasa links.

I am fascinated with trying some traditional recipes from a Christmas present from my mom.

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She gave me a couple of Pennsylvania Dutch cookbooks that she’s had for decades. I am interested in trying the pastry recipes that call for lard.

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Now that we all know lard is better for us than vegetable oils, it should be fun to test the taste difference.

I am also interested in trying the brisket, and the filets, from their stand. It is hard to find brisket from the local farms. Not that many of them around, when you are only processing a small number of cattle at a time. I always had to cross my fingers and hope to find one from the local farmers.

Happy to see a “new” farm in our vicinity. Particularly one that specializes in meats that we usually have to go much farther to find.

Cabin Fever

Are you tired of all this snow and ice? Ready to get outside and do something different? How about joining some of the volunteers at the Howard County Conservancy as we train to lead field trips for elementary and secondary school children?

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Next week on Thursday the 5th of March, the volunteers will be playing the “students” and learning the new kindergarten program. On the 10th, it’s the new 6th grade Storm Water program at Belmont. On the 12th, the new 3rd grade program training at Mt. Pleasant, followed by one of our famous pot luck luncheons.

Bio Blitz training at Belmont on the 17th. And, finally on the 19th at Belmont, refresher training for Wings, Stings and Leggy Things, the 2nd grade program. New volunteers will be joined by those of us who appreciate the chance to revisit the activities and get out with friends, old and new.

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This volunteer effort, which is fairly robust (the Conservancy hosts thousands of school children from pre-K all the way to high school age) is one of my favorite activities. Particularly, since we end up learning as well. The Bio Blitz is being done for the second time. It is one amazing multi-day program. I can’t wait to get outdoors in the meadows and the Patapsco Valley. Here’s hoping spring arrives soon.

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Choosing Community Again

I really do dislike that slogan around here. The “Choose Civility” one. As if civility is all we need to show to those we encounter. Whether on the roads, in the stores, in our neighborhoods.

For us. A sense of community is what is important. A sense of neighbors helping neighbors. Of being there for each other when we need them. A civil nod, and “Have a Nice Day” doesn’t resonate.

Case in point. This past weekend, and that overachieving snow.

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For us, it couldn’t have come in a worse time. Our snow thrower bit the dust.

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Last week, during the minor snowfall (how many of these buggers are we going to get?), the cable that turns the augur, broke. On order. Slated to come in tomorrow. Enter Saturdays 10 inches of snow.

We called two neighbors. And, one of them, we called their son’s cell. Sunday morning, bright and early we get a response. The son, on the RTV helped us clear out. He had just come from the widow’s property up the road, where he plowed her driveway for her. After ours, he did another neighbor.

Later that day, his parents did get back to us. They checked their messages from their vacation in Hawaii and wanted to make sure we could get in touch with their son. Later, our other neighbor came over to tell us, in the future, when they are away, which they were, we should just go in the barn and take their snowthrower to use.

Now, that’s community. Not being civil. But caring about one another.

I do love it out here. The people make it special.

A Night Out in Old EC

Ellicott City. The county seat of Howard County. Usually visited by us in much better weather than our current frigid wave.

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Main Street is almost always hopping at night, for the bars and the restaurants. Not so much for the small shops that line Main St. Last night we attended a get together at the Still Life Gallery. Hosted by the owners, Sara Arditti and David Dempster.

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The gallery has a lovely selection of art in many media, and some great jewelry as well. They also do custom framing. Something I need to do with some of my photographs that I want to display.

There was quite a crowd there last night. Artists, bloggers, friends and relatives. Enjoying the dessert brownies with wine and beer.

Thanks to the Wine Bin, just up Main St. for donating wine to the event.

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The merchants on Main Street are some of the small business sources that I recommend whenever people are looking for unique gifts or specialized services.

Ellicott City. One of the gems of Howard County.


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