Volume 13, Issue 40 ~ October 6 - 12, 2005

Destination Chesapeake

These residents of the Ferny Brae Sheep and Wool Farm, owned by Sara Lasher, are just two interesting characters you may meet while on your trail adventure.
Tour Southern Maryland CultureNew trails take you off the beaten path.
By Carrie Steele

This fall, a new map helps you track your route. On this route, landmarks aren’t cities, interstates, junctions, exits, golf courses or shopping centers. Southern Maryland Trails leads you to winemakers, local food, pottery studios, farms, glassmakers and more landmarks of culture.

Helping you navigate is Southern Maryland Agricultural Commission, whose colorful, glossy map lets you follow their footsteps — or devise your own path.

“We’re putting together places to eat and things to see, with the emphasis that it’s all Southern Maryland,” said Michelle Christian of the Agricultural Commission. “Everything revolves around Southern Maryland. Even the restaurants on our list buy local, either buying from local farmers or getting local seafood.”

Along with places that you’ll recognize like Calvert Marine Museum, Annmarie Gardens and Calvert Country Market are some, like Mimi’s Little Studio, and that you might not.

Six dozen such discoveries are charted on the new Southern Maryland touring map so local travelers can discover new places and see what’s being done.

“If you didn’t know who or where potter Sarah Houde was,” said Christian of one of those discoveries, you wouldn’t think go there. Southern Maryland Trails, she says, “is telling people Yes, here is my studio. Otherwise, these places are off the beaten path and people wouldn’t know about them.”

Each year more trails with newly discovered sites will be added to the two trails debuting this fall. This year’s trails are Barnwood and Beach Glass Loop in St. Mary’s County; and Fossils and Farmscapes Ramble in Calvert.

To gather sites for their trails, the Agricultural Commission cast their nets into five different counties: Prince George’s, Anne Arundel, Calvert, Charles and St. Mary’s.

But not every business that applied found a place on the map — this time.

“We’re selective,” said Christian. “Each site needs to have a broad appeal and a high quality. All of our artists were juried. We’re sending people to high-quality places.”

Charting our cultural territory was designer Conni James, who freelances for the commission, as well as for College of Southern Maryland among other businesses. James and commission director Christine Bergmark visited sites and interviewed some 70 owners accepted onto the trail.

“Each site had to be safe and separate from living space. Basically, artists had to have a real studio,” said James, who shot photos for the trail guide on her journeys. Along the way, she discovered farmers, winemakers and artists, now designated with icons along the map to make constellations for you to explore.

From contenders, they mapped two geographical journeys.

“We took the two counties that had hugest response, Calvert and St. Mary’s,” said James, for the first two trails.

James has been imagining the map for over a year; production, however, began only eight weeks ago.

Inspiration for the trails came from North Carolina.

“It’s based on their Handmade in America,” James said, a trail with metal-works, potters and artists of all kinds. North Carolina coached the Agricultural Commission on mapping a new trail.

The tarheel trail was strictly art; Maryland’s improves on the model cuisine and farms. Trail guides are free. To kick off the trail tours, this Saturday, October 8, many sites are offering something free to put you on track.

“For instance, Forest Hall Farm is doing a demo of corn grinding and giving out recipes,” says Christian. In Calvert County, there are free demonstrations and receptions, including a mini-reception at ArtWorks@7th; free mugs at Westlawn Inn; a print-making workshop at Caanan Farm; breakfast with artists at CalvART Gallery; samples at Calvert Country Market; free tasting at Solomons Winery; an art show at Annmarie Gardens; and a plein-air painting demonstration at Carmen’s Gallery.

Pick up your copy of the new trail guide at any trail site, or save the centerfold from last week’s Bay Weekly. Find basic trails information at www.somdtrails.com.

© COPYRIGHT 2004 by New Bay Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved.