Volume XI, Issue 27 ~ July 3-9, 2003

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Dock of the Bay

Order Up: Local Fresh Fruits and Veggies
But what you eat at your favorite restaurant may come from far afield

You’d eat your vegetables first if they were fresh and local.

That’s one reason Anne Arundel County Executive Janet Owens wrote 269 county restaurants urging them to buy and serve local fruits and vegetables.

“Anne Arundel County currently has 412 farms, with more than 34,000 acres of farmland servicing our 500,000 residents with fruit, soybeans, corn, hay, vegetables and wheat.” she wrote.

But taste wasn’t all Owens, a farmer’s daughter, had in mind. We help “preserve our agricultural history,” she wrote, by buying what’s grown locally.

“If farmers can’t make money farming, they will sell their land to be developed. They don’t have a choice,” says Jeff Opel, who advises Owens on farm issues. Opel and his agricultural development committee are working out a marketing plan to help farmers stay on the land.Thriving farms, in turn, keep land out of development.

The farm to restaurant connection is part of the plan.

In theory, restaurateurs agree. In practice, it’s a different story.

“I received the letter, and I reflected on it,” said Suzanne Evannou, owner of Café Normandie Restaurant in Annapolis. “The problem with local farmers is the price. We can get great products for a lower price.” If she was the owner of a smaller venue, she says, she would like to buy locally but can’t afford to.

Randy Ballard, general manager of Griffin’s Restaurant, also in downtown Annapolis, gives a different reason why he uses larger vendors over farmers’ markets. He explains that a restaurant owner can’t hand select everything and still run a business. Buying local tomatoes in season is Griffin’s nod to local growers.

Buying tomatoes, squash or corn locally rather than from a larger operation benefits the community in more ways than taste. Anne Pearson, founder of the Alliance for Sustainable Communities, says that farm success boosts the economy more efficiently than, say, commercial development, which takes money out of the community to benefit corporate chains. A sustainable economy, Pearson says, is measured by the number of times a dollar is exchanged locally.

Across the county border in Prince George’s County, Mike Pappas of Eco Farms enjoys a business relationship with over 35 area restaurants, including Harry Browne’s in Annapolis and Restaurant Nora in Washington. Eight miles from the center of D.C., Eco Farms is what Pappas calls “a logical distribution point.”

Pappas works within a co-op, which enables him to buy and resell produce from a collection of farms. Along with produce from Eco Farms, this collection of fresh fruits and vegetables satisfies many needs for area restaurants.

“I try to make it as easy as possible,” Pappas says. It takes a long time to develop a relationship with a chef, Pappas explains, but once developed, it’s worthwhile. Standards and trust are two important components of a relationship with a restaurant. “My set of standards, I hope, is higher than what chefs would require,” he says.

Neighboring Calvert County, too, has made the connection.

“We buy local produce all summer long from two or three farmers,” says Gerald Donovan, owner of Rod ’n’ Reel in Chesapeake Beach.

Linking restaurants to local produce on a broader scale is the business of Kevin Owen at Calvert Country Market. First, Owen says, he encourages growers to contact restaurants. Then, when the market opens this summer, its first customers of the day will be restaurants, with the first hour of business devoted to offering an array of fresh produce to large-scale buyers.

Any time of the day, Owen says he’ll sit down with restaurateurs to help them develop a system for using local produce. When restaurateurs are clear about what they want and don’t want, farmers can often adjust their operations to grow products that match the restaurant’s needs.

It’s a partnership that can work, says Victoria Gurtenboim, coordinator of the Maryland’s Best program at the state level. Gurtenboim, who has just started working with restaurants to connect them with growers, says the response has been good.

Part of her job, she says, is to educate restaurants on what’s available, including delivery structure and guarantee of retail-ready produce. Maryland’s Best, like the Calvert Country Market, is trying to align those elements so that farmers are able to successfully sell to restaurants.

Janet Owens’ letter is a small first step in building a farm-to-table business network that might, in turn, keep farmland part of Anne Arundel’s present as well as its history.

“If we don’t take care of our own,” Opel says, “We’re the first ones to lose out.”

— Jessie McLean Heller

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One More Reason to Read a Maryland Writer
Leon Uris — 1924 to 2003

Leon Uris; novelist, screenwriter and Baltimore native died June 21 at his home on New York’s Shelter Island from kidney failure. He was 78.

While Uris wrote such well-known works as Mila 18 (1961), Armageddon (1964), Topaz (1967), and Trinity (1976), he is noted most frequently for his 1958 novel Exodus and for writing the 1957 screenplay of the western, Gunfight at the O.K. Corral.

Exodus chronicles the founding of the nation of Israel. Exodus is also the name of the Maryland-built steamboat, formerly the President Warfield, that attempted to carry 4,500 Jews through the British Blockade of Palestine, a passage chronicled in Uris’ novel.

Exodus, translated into more than 50 languages, has sold millions of copies and continues to be read worldwide today.

Before he discovered his talent as a writer, Uris dropped out of high school during his senior year to serve as a marine in the Pacific during World War II.

He then drew from his military experiences to become the acclaimed novelist the world knows him as today.

Uris’ final book, O’Hara’s Choice, is due out this year.

— Lauren Silver

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Joe Williams: The Man Behind the Bar
One man’s love and passion still strong after all these years

If you’ve stopped in Pirates Cove restaurant in Galesville for dinner or a drink, chances are you’ve met Joe Williams.

On any given night of the week — except Thursdays — he stands behind the bar, greeting customers with a gold-toothed smile and a “hello” as if all were old friends.

“All my customers are regulars. There are no strangers, just people I haven’t met yet,” said Joe Williams as he greeted several more customers at the bar.

Joe still tends bar at Pirates Cove, although he has cut back the number of days he works each week. You can find him there Fridays, Saturdays and Mondays.

“When I first came here I was a very scared kid,” said Joe, who’s on a first-name basis with everyone who sits down at his bar.

photo by James Clemenko
Joe Williams and another happy customer at the bar at Pirates Cove.

A remarkable feat that Joe has easily accomplished is remembering the faces of his customers. “I remember the faces, but not the names as well. A guy walked in last weekend and asked me if I knew him. I said, ‘yes, you got married here 34 years ago’,” said Joe, whose memory is as sharp as in his youth.

Joe’s story is the American dream of success through hard, honest work.

As he flirted with a few of his female customers, he said, “I love my job and the people. You take care of them [customers] and they take care of you. Everything I own is from what I’ve received from people.”

Joe owns two automobiles — a 1985 full-size Dodge pickup truck and a classic, mint-condition 1969 Pontiac GTO. Every night after work he drives to a car wash to remove the day’s grime. “I never miss a night.”

The man loves automobiles. He speaks excitedly about his newest additions, a Dodge Ram truck and a Chrysler PT Cruiser.

“In 32 years I’ve never called in sick,” Joe says with a modest grin. That golden grin has etched Joe into many people’s memory, even those who don’t remember his name, and has earned him the nickname “Fort Knox.”

After 39 years, Joe is proud that he has never called in sick. Like many bartenders, he listens to customers’ problems and doles out advice when needed. Joe gave me some good advice, “Life is too short. Work hard and never give up. Never. Spend wisely, not foolishly. Live life everyday.”

He explained to me the important things in life, and after all his years of serving and helping people, he’s definitely one that is wise in the way of the world.

For all his years behind the bar, Joe neither drinks nor smokes. “I tried a cigarette one time 35 years ago. I took a drink the same time and didn’t like it,” he says.

Smoking and drinking never interested Joe and, to this day, he’s not tempted by either.

“I came to Pirates Cove as a busboy in 1961,” he said. “I did that for two weeks and then washed dishes for two weeks. Then I came behind the bar one Sunday just to open beer. From that day on it’s been history.”

Joe Williams is still making history, one glass and one smile at a time. He’s an institution at Pirates Cove, and one that is worth seeing, experiencing and befriending.

— James Clemenko

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Earth Journal ~ Tiger Mosquitoes
Story and Illustration by Gary Pendleton

You’re not wrong. Mosquitoes are to be more of a problem now than they used to be — and not just because of recent heavy rains. It’s because an alien species has made our home its home.

In the past five years, the Asian tiger mosquito — which can proliferate even in such drought years as 2002 — has become the major mosquito pest in towns, cities and suburban areas.

You’ll know this medium-sized mosquito by its coloration: very black with distinctive white markings on the legs and a white stripe on the back. Tigers are persistent biters and seem to prefer the lower legs.

“It bites during the day and it develops right in people’s yards, not in the woods away from where people live,” Col. Daniel Strickland, of the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, explained recently on WAMU radio. He calls the tiger “the most troubling mosquito in the area.” Worse, he expects this will be a good year for the Asian tiger — which means a bad year for us.

Even the harsh winter that may have killed some over-wintering eggs, will only delay the big bite. By August or September tigers could be thick.

The Asian tiger mosquito is able to claim the dubious honor of worst mosquito for several reasons. First, most other mosquitoes bite mainly at dawn and dusk while this one bites throughout the day. Second, it thrives near homes and buildings. It is also a carrier of West Nile Virus.

Humans as well as nature help mosquitoes complete their life cycle. Eggs are laid in standing water, which provides habitat for the larva to hatch and develop into the form of a flying, biting adult insect. The Asian tiger mosquito is a very efficient breeder; it needs just seven days and one ounce of water. Under the right conditions, a bottle cap full is all the Asian tiger mosquito needs to complete its life cycle.

Ideal breeding habitat includes clogged or slow draining gutters, pools, birdbaths and even children’s toys. Saucers placed under plant containers are prime breeding habitat for this troublesome pest. Practically any receptacle capable of holding even a minute pocket of water may provide enough breeding habitat for this mosquito to reproduce.

Fortunately there are many easy and obvious steps you can take around the home to stop the Asian tiger. Best of all the recommended solutions are low tech, inexpensive and do not require the use of toxic pesticides.

The key to disrupting the life cycle of the Asian tiger mosquito is to remove sources of standing water weekly. Toys, containers and other items should be stored where they can not collect rainwater. Even in an inverted position buckets and plastic containers may capture enough rainwater to host the tiger mosquito larva, so containers should be stored in a protected place. Gutters should be cleaned and repaired or replaced so that they drain properly. Non-toxic pesticides containing the biological agent Bt can be safely used to kill mosquito larva in areas that cannot be drained regularly.

It should take 30 minutes a week or less to significantly reduce the breeding habitat on your property. However, your most diligent efforts are negated if the problem is ignored on neighboring properties.

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Calvert High School Theater Reaches National Stage
Small town school takes big bow among the nation’s best

Calvert High School Theater has made it. They stepped onto the University of Maryland’s Kay Theatre stage at 7:30pm on June 25 at the annual National Invitational Theatre Festival and the audience knew they had come a long way.

The Cavalier Players of Calvert Theater spent eight hours a day, six days a week for the past four months practicing for the moment they would perform the musical, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, which is based on the story, Sobbin’ Women, by Steven Vincent Benet.

photo by Theresa Troescher
Calvert High School’s Cavalier Players in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.
Calvert High’s competitive theater performance of “Pot of Gold” — a Roman comedy where actors play the opposite sex — in February’s Maryland State Theater Festival won them one of the two coveted full-length shows at the 2003 National Invitational Theatre Festival.

High school theater groups are awarded performances in the national festival — a five-day showcase of high school theater talent — based on their performance and audience applause in regional competitions where they compete before a panel of judges.

Eldest brother Adam, played by senior Nathan Bowen, seeks a wife to serve his six slovenly brothers and himself. Adam thinks he has found this in Millie — played by senior Meagan Vandeventer — a lone woman who supports herself as a waitress. Adam eventually learns that Millie is an individual, and that a woman’s place is beside, not behind her man.

Twelve other Calvert High School students played the roles of the supporting actors, the six brides and brothers, whose slapstick humor made for a riotous show. Physical antics such as fist fights and clumsy dancing shared the stage with suggestive language and jokes.

The Cavalier players take more from this festival than the thrill of accomplishment. They’ve achieved a sense of community and insight into what it takes to reach success.

“Theater is a process,” said Director Thomas Markham. “The process is students learning, sharing their knowledge and then learning again.”

— Theresa Troescher

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Way Downstream …

In Virginia, the Marine Resources Commission is considering banning a type of fishing called haul seining because the weighted net damages Chesapeake Bay grasses. Commercial fishermen, who use haul seines for croaker, spot and trout, are on the warpath …

In the suburbs, people are fatter, according to a new study blaming suburban sprawl for America’s obesity epidemic. Why? Because people who live in suburbs typically drive everywhere instead of walking, said University of British Columbia professor Lawrence Frank, who tracked the weight, height and home location of thousands of people …

Our Creature Feature comes from Thailand, where the happy howls of hounds are sounding on the streets of Bangkok. That’s because the country has agreed after years of complaints from animal lovers to begin regulating trade in dog meat.

Some 500 dogs a week have been ending up on dinner tables, but that number should plummet. Said a government spokesman: “We would prefer people saw dogs as cute animals rather than a type of consumable meat.”



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Last updated July 3, 2003 @ 12:37am