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Capturing customers with a little of this, a little of that

The name Vintage Stew, colorfully scripted on the brick wall above an empty storefront in Deale, opened four years ago to numerous conversations about whom and what was moving in. Was it a new eatery serving stew?     “Like a big ol’ pot of stew …” says owner Shelley Daniels. But not the kind you eat.     “A mix of ingredients,” adds partner Barry Morrissey.

Unity Gardens grants up for grabs

Plants and flowers aren’t all that grow in gardens. Leadership and civic involvement can also bloom. That’s a motivating idea behind Unity Gardens, a nonprofit that backs its philosophy with dollars.     So twice each year when Unity Gardens gives away seed money, in the spring and fall, human growth potential is a top giving criteria.

Spa Creek Conservancy fights phrag

Crews and volunteers with Spa Creek Conserv­ancy are claiming success against a nasty foe.     Thick stands of the invasive reed phragmites, a common enemy across the Bay watershed, have been choking Spa Creek. The grasses quickly take over a marsh community, crowding out native plants, changing hydrology, altering wildlife habitat and increasing the danger of fires. Tall stems and dense growth block light to other plants. Its rhizomes spread rapidly.

For Annapolis town crier Squire ­Frederick, ­Independence Day is a joyous occasion

Folks who live and work in Annapolis, used to seeing guys in breeches and plumed tricorn hats, scarcely bat an eye when Town Crier Fred Taylor strolls by.     Tourists and school children are another story. They squeal in delight when meeting “Squire Frederick,” as Taylor’s known hereabouts.     Taylor’s town crier is hard to miss. He stands tall (a head taller than your average guy). His social behavior sets him further apart.

Don Risher decorates the office at Belair ­Engineering like a July 4th float

You’d think it was Christmas and Don Risher of Belair Engineering in Upper Marlboro was Clark Griswold from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.     From Memorial Day through summer, he fills his office with red, white and blue. “It’s very patriotic, with lots of Americana,” says Risher, who puts his heart into this decorative commemoration because of his time in the service and camaraderie with service men and women.

Paddlers wanted to ­monitor the Severn’s underwater world

The Severn River Association needs your help surveying underwater grass beds in the Severn River, mostly in and around Round Bay, July through early August. You’ll locate the beds, take samples and identify the grasses by species while recording water temperature and visibility.     Funded by a grant from Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources, the Severn River Association provides monitoring kits. You provide the energy, the eyes and the boat — kayak, canoe or even paddleboard as you’ll be working in shallow water.

Little Coconut, Pineapple and Twix taught these middle-schoolers a big lesson

With their feet gingerly navigating mud and grasses at the water’s edge as they prepare to release three baby northern diamondback terrapins into the wild, these Severn River Middle School students could be almost anywhere along Chesapeake Bay.     Poplar Island, however, is no ordinary locale. The island, like the careful return of the terrapins to their birthplace, is a unique and successful example of environmental stewardship. Visiting there, students are in position to understand our human impact, both positive and negative, on the world around us.

Mary Davis earns two trophies, a crown and a summer reprieve from a bodybuilder’s diet

In the April Organization of Competitive Bodybuilders Catonsville Conquer, Mary Davis won two first-place trophies and a crown.     “I felt like I did the best that I could. With two firsts, I walked away feeling awesome.”     Still hungry for more prizes and more challenges, Davis competed in May 16’s NPC Capital Classic.     “I didn’t place as high as I hoped,” Davis said of a second place plus a fourth and a fifth.

Southern Maryland’s Heinz Thomet is making whole wheat loveable

The delectable, slightly tart and yeasty smell of baking bread wafts through the open door of Heinz Thomet and Gabrielle Lajoie’s farmhouse in rural Charles County. The aroma is fitting: The grains in the family’s bread are their farm’s staff of life.     The couple’s 86-acre Next Step Produce farm is one of only two ­organic farms in Maryland growing grains specifically for bread and food production (the other is Land’s End in Chestertown).

League of Conservation Voters wants your photos

“It’s a great feeling to see my neighbors and fellow Marylanders enjoying our state — from the mountains in western Maryland to the wetlands in Southern Maryland to the beaches on the Eastern Shore,” says Danielle Lipinski of Maryland League of Conservation Voters. “We truly have a little bit of everything here in Maryland, and I’m grateful to raise my family here.”