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Keeping Maryland ­Beautiful

$215,000-worth of beauty in the works

Project Spudnik at All Saints Episcopal Church.

      Project Spudnik will put more taters into the ground this year thanks to a grant from Keep Maryland Beautiful.

         Inspired by the improbable garden Matt Damon grows in the movie The Martian, Project Spudnik teaches teens to live sustainably through gardening. This year, what started as a container garden grows $1,000 richer.

         All Saints Episcopal Church in Sunderland, where Project Spudnik grows, joins 71 organizations across the state in sharing $215,000.

         Keep Maryland Beautiful is a program funded by Maryland Environmental Trust to clean up our communities, beautify neighborhoods, increase citizen stewardships, remove litter and provide environmental education.

         Funding also comes from the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development and the Maryland Department of Transportation.

         For Project Spudnik, it will help expand “our responsibility to the Bay and teach kids to garden in safe ways,” says master gardener Sherrill Munn.

         Thanks to the Margaret Rosch Jones award, 30 young Spudnik gardeners will plant vegetables, compete to raise the heaviest potato; and play in garden trivia games. Many of their fruits and vegetables are donated to local food banks, including the End Hunger program and HeartFELT, a backpack program that feeds children on the weekends when they may go hungry.

         In Calvert, American Chestnut Land Trust earned a piece of the $40,000 Janice Hollmann Grant for scientific research and a sustainability assessment of hiking trails. The Annapolis-based Scenic Rivers Land Trust also received a chunk of that same pot.

         “The funding will be used to conduct our annual conservation easement monitoring and advance our outreach to landowners and tax, legal and real estate professionals,” said Scenic Rivers’ Erin Valentine.

         Also in Anne Arundel County, both the Annapolis Arts District and Annapolis Green won Clean Up & Green Up Maryland awards. The Arts District will use its $5,000 grant for plants and materials to revamp the landscape around Whitmore Parking Garage. Annapolis Green’s award will help in the annual Great Annapolis Cleanup downtown.

         North County High School in Glen Burnie earned the Bill James Environmental Grant for a student-led composting project. Also awarded this grant was Historic Sotterley’s new STEAM education program in St. Mary’s County.

         Want a piece of the pie for your own group of eco-friendly projects that look good and do good for the state? The next cycle of grants opens in October.