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A Telling Tale…

On Friday, October 12th, during dinner, I received a somewhat panicked telephone call from a multi-year vendor of the Berlin Farmers’ Market telling me of a letter she had received from the Berlin Chamber of Commerce stating that the Market would be forced to vacate their present location in about 30 days.  Apparently, long-standing, downtown parking issues were the reason. This was confirmed that same evening in conversation by our Town Administrator – Tony Carson,  during Berlin’s ‘Roctoberfest’.    Yet later that evening, another upset vendor sent me a copy of that letter.

 

At first surprised at the somewhat abrupt action, I was delighted to learn that instead of a blanket market ‘closing’ as first informed; the letter offered a reasonable solution.  Relocation to a larger space at the Stephen Decatur Park – just .07 of a mile further down Main Street was suggested – something that I, as a long time supporter of both Berlin market customers and local growers/producers, thought would be of great benefit to both.  Fine – right?  Nope!

 

Just days later, at the regularly scheduled Berlin Mayor & Council meeting, forces in protest of this action appeared unbidden, en masse.  I happened to attend that night to listen to the new storm water plan.  At the end of the meeting, during the public portion, the farmers/vendors spoke.  Lots of drama ensued, including the wearing of hastily printed protest t-shirts, a banner or two saying GO GREEN and a not so nicely veiled threat of a Berlin Farmers’ Market boycott by one long time vendor.  I listened to more than a few imaginable and some unimaginable reasons not to move the market from some of the vendors and a few downtown customers. The word ‘tradition’ was oft cited.  Finally after listening for over an hour, the Mayor ‘caved’ by saying he’d put the final decision on the back burner for two months – though the original action to move the market had come as a directive, straight from Town Hall to be put forth through to the Berlin Chamber as the Market umbrella to the vendors.  Poorly handled, in my opinion.

 

As of this writing, and after a few less public meetings, I’m told the Mayor has promised that the BFM will continue in the over-crowded, downtown point lot through the 2013 season.

 

On a personal level, being someone who has publicly declared her preference for moving the market for some time, I seemed to have become an instant pariah.  Market vendors, whom I’ve known, worked beside, visited and supported, with both time and money for years, suddenly became silent, refusing to answer simple and timely advertising questions; instead I’ve been referred to a seldom-present spouse of a long time vendor for clarification.

 

It must be known that over the 12+ years I’ve been involved with the Berlin Farmers’ Market I’ve listened to the often-repeated complaint of ‘we need more space’ from most of the very same vendors who are now fighting the move.  What gives?

 

There is multitude of reasons why the Berlin Farmers’ Market should be moved to a larger space

 

  • The Town of Berlin did not make the initial decision to move the Market without first taking a good look at what a growing and more vibrant Market would need.  The space at SD Park is ideal – larger with room to grow.  The Town has offered both access to electric – and water.  Water being important for many vendors to comply with State and Local Health Departments for sanitary services needed to sell cheese and other locally produced but perishable items.  For some years the BFM has been told they cannot offer samples of their products without compliance to the hand-washing rule.  Electric service is needed for refrigeration of some proffered items, which are not currently available.  And, there are port potty’s for the convenience of both customer and vendor – a long-standing lament from those vendors who must stay all day without a break.  The Town has offered to build a pavilion to offer shelter from the hot sun and occasional rain. Finally, the Town has offered to provide abundant signage, redirecting current users to the new Market site.  What more could one ask?

 

  • Parking is the main issue – it’s limited.  With the increase in number and popularity of Berlin businesses, the same parking footprint remains.  Being a supporter of the BFM, I often query my friends encouraging them to partake of the FRESH/LOCAL/HEALTHY available here on Market Fridays.  Friendship notwithstanding, I’m told…’sorry, we don’t come, there’s no place to park’.

 

  • Unfortunately several past BFM managers have chosen to deny or overlook applications from other local producers due to available space – several of these actually growing their product closer in distance to Berlin than some of the already existing vendors.  This denial has caused some disappointed vendors to go off to other, more distant markets to sell.  One even started a new market location on Saturdays at Whitehorse Park in Ocean Pines.  Ironically, several of the existing Berlin vendors are now selling up there as well.  The OP Market is becoming very popular, offering many variety vendors – and, while only operating 17 – 20 weeks a season, it has an ideal location including comfortable PARKING.  Also, yet another nearby (West Ocean City) fresh market is in the planning stage – it too will have more and better parking with which to serve the consumer.  With more space, the BFM could offer the consumer a wider variety of products.

 

 

  • The current BFM vendors pay only a fraction of an annual fee compared to other area farmer’s markets.  Yet, they are insisting on remaining on a prime, Town-owned parking area in the center of Berlin, year round.  Additionally, they are not required to have a license to do business here as are other folks doing business in the downtown area – nor are they members of the Berlin Chamber of Commerce, or except for one, tax-paying Berlin MD citizens. Again, what gives?

 

Sadly, I see that without the move to a larger area, allowing more variety, with better facilities with which to serve the customer, the Berlin Farmers’ Market will eventually cease to exist.  The Market will die on ‘tradition’ – unable to acknowledge the need to grow and change with the needs or the times.

 

What she said… “STOP IT!”

(NOTE:  Those of you who know me are aware that this issue has been MY personal campaign for a number of years.  Responsible behavior – personal and that owed to others!)

 

Though an inelegant but thought-filled, borrowed quote – it’s still a valid request.  STOP IT!  Stop driving distracted.

 

You – holding a cell phone up against your ear, you know who you are.  You – who attempt to steer one-handed while chatting with a family member, friend or client are putting those around you in jeopardy.  I hear your response.  I hear you say, ‘just this once’, ‘only for a minute’ or ‘it may be important’, all meaning ‘I’m important’.  I’m sure you are – please consider using a ‘hands-free’ device.

 

Two years ago the Maryland General Assembly voted to ban handheld devices for ALL drivers – making it a secondary offense.  This year our (Maryland) legislature has several bills before it, asking this be made a primary offense, making it synchronous with another state, Delaware.  Oddly, the third state that comprises the Delmarva region Virginia, the ban on use extends both hand-held and hands-free only for bus drivers – though banning texting for all drivers.  The penalty for infraction here in Maryland is $40-$100.  An insignificant amount to deter use compared to possibly unthinkable results.

 

Secondary or primary offense makes no matter – these are legalities not moralities.  Viewed from anyone’s perspective, careless activities resulting in the potential for needless killing, maiming and the destruction of others’ property are wrong whether legal or otherwise.

 

What, you say?  Why is this noisy Silver-living person making such a fuss?  Being Silver means we’ve been around for a while – and hope to continue for a while yet.  We have family and friends who are meaningful to us – just the same as you.  However, not only do we value our own, but also we’ve learned to value those of others.

 

Often, during my daily jaunts around the Berlin area, I encounter folks driving distracted.  It’s simple to detect – they are the vehicles driving slower or faster than the posted speed, taking wider turns at intersections, slowing down where there are no signs or intersections and depending on the conversation, weaving back and forth – oh wait, those may be the ones driving impaired – another story for another time.  Left-handers are easier to spot chatting away, right-handed drivers not so much.

 

I recently came across our Berlin, MD Mayor, Gee Williams busy talking into his cell phone while walking Main Street in the downtown district.  Here was a man most likely to have many pressing telephone communiques each day.  I asked him for his thoughts.  He told me that when he had a lengthy commute planned, he begins the trip early and allows for a ‘pull-off, catch-up time’ about mid-way through the journey.  Very wise!

 

To those of you who say you MUST be in touch with the kids, a spouse or a client at a moment’s notice – you’ll already have a hands-free device.   Remember, it’s only been a couple of years since mobile communications have been widely available.  True EMERGENCIES do happen but since you’re in a distant location and the emergency is taking place in another – what can YOU really do?  If you find yourself away and in an emergency situation, you’re already stopped and off the road rendering your vehicle harmless to others.

 

Finally, to the Silver gentleman holding a phone to his ear, driving a black, Chevy pick-up, who cut me off last week at the corner of West and Broad Streets, again I say… STOP ITPLEASE – choose to act responsibly!

 

 

A Berlin MD ‘History Mystery’!

I need to talk to an old person, a very old person…ideally a native with a clear memory to help solve a little mystery!

Newly retired, May of 1998 found us moving to Berlin from ‘the other side’. We chose this lovely, quiet (at that time) town to pursue our various avocations; woodworking and certainly my passion, gardening. Our chosen home on West Street was just four years old at the time of purchase. Believing it to be suitably maintenance-free, or at least without imminent need of costly repairs, we gleefully proceeded to play in the dirt…aka build a favored, natural garden.

It was in the making of the garden that the ‘history mystery’ began. No novice to using a shovel…I found nowhere to dig out front (street-side) – blade met concrete within 4”. HUH? Careful probing revealed large, irregularly chunky pieces (broken foundation sized) closely scattered throughout the area. Planting anything beyond simple ground cover often proved a mostly noisy (%&#$) adventure in frustrating excavation. Finally, I asked my nearest neighbors – John and Barb. Having lived here many years before our property was subdivided, they told us that this was the site of ‘the old sawmill’ – though remembered to be located nearer to the railroad tracks – at least 200’ from the road. Visions of a sawmill had me thinking a wooden building – but this was concrete we were meeting in the front.

We persevered, placing young trees and bushes in a pleasing design, adding a few bulbs and topping the soil with plenty of mulch and a spreading ground-covers. We declared, ‘digging done for now’!

Not so…one of the earliest major issues with this supposedly new, problem-free house was the WET crawl space. After a rain we had a lake, during a dry period we had a marsh. Our first remedy was to dig a ‘French drain’ – a long, deep trench, installing perf pipe, back-filled with stone, covered with builder’s paper – parallel to the foundation. It was during this process that more ‘history mystery’ began to appear. One day Mike came across brick…not just random bricks, but a brick sidewalk laid in an intricate herringbone pattern about 12” to14” down. Anyone who has created a patio or sidewalk in this pattern knows this is NOT a random act. This prompted more ‘HUH’? Puzzled, though wanting to get on with our project we removed the blocking bricks and completed the drain. By the way, it didn’t solve the problem – due to the WETNESS below we soon found our duct work to be filled with black mold. Our problem-free home with crawl space underwent major rehabilitation – including new duct work, new hvac system, new barrier, dry wrap system and an ever, running, sump pump.

OK, OK – enough! Our gardens continue to progress, despite meeting occasional, annoying obstacles.

However, it wasn’t until yesterday when we received a large order from an online garden site that the ‘history mystery’ reappeared.

Anticipating the need to get 25 new asparagus crowns into the soil out back, Mike had pre-tilled to a depth of 8”. However, the included planting instructions recommended the trench to be dug to a depth of at least 12”. Out came the shovel…and more of that beautiful herringbone patterned sidewalk was encountered – more than 20’ from where the French drain left off.

What was here? What preceded the sawmill? There must have been a lovely home to have such a fashionably laid sidewalk of such length…

We’ve been given several explanations – perhaps there was an old brick factory in Berlin. I don’t know. Do you?

Can anyone help solve our little ‘history mystery’?

If you have an answer, please ‘click’ on this post title…a comment box will appear.  We’d love to hear your response.  Thanks!

Losing our ‘Lore’…

LORE: noun – a body of traditions or knowledge on a subject or held by a particular group, to be passed from person to person by word of mouth.

ORIGIN – Old English – instruction and German – to learn.

 

During the past few years, our little Eastern Shore town of Berlin, Maryland has lost a number of well-known men and woman.   Collectively, these people embodied, at least for a generation, the real tellers of Berlin’s lore.

 

Early one morning, soon after moving to Berlin, I was out walking on West Street.  Along the way I met an old, though still vibrant woman. She stopped, and smilingly introduced herself as Bessye Moore.  Actually she introduced herself as Berlin’s Oldest Streetwalker – though obviously she was a lady of consequence.  I was immediately charmed.  After that first meeting, hardly a day went by that ‘Aunt’ Bessye couldn’t be recognized, doing her daily exercise – walking through town, visiting others, spreading good will and the lore.  Sadly she passed on a few years later – leaving a big gap in Town history.  Recently I saw some of her ‘recollections’ reprinted by Joel Todd on a popular social media website.  Like the author – though naïve – they tell a pure and endearing history of one family’s life in Berlin.  One day soon, I hope to see her narrative published.

 

The next teller I met was James (Jim) Barrett.  Though still new to the town, nevertheless, I was already busy seeking contributions for a cause I considered to be of community wide benefit.  I drove out to Barrett Chevrolet and asked to see Mr. Barrett, explained my mission and was directed to his office. After introducing myself, he asked me to be seated and to tell him about the project.  We finished that meeting with Mr. Barrett making a sizable contribution.  Jim Barrett was generous – though Berlin was his adopted home – Berlin Maryland was his heart!

 

I don’t remember when I first met the next teller of Berlin’s lore – but he too made a huge impression.  His name was Tom Patton.  By this time, Mike and I had a little ice cream shop on North Main Street.  One day Mr. Patton walked in and asked me if I would like to become ‘Market Mother’ to the Berlin Farmers’ Market.  He explained he would be taking on new projects and had little time to spare.  In Tom’s opinion, the still fledgling market needed some guidance from a local resident.  It didn’t hurt that our ice cream shop offered the nearest refreshment and restroom – offering respite to those growers who were outdoors in all types of weather providing fresh/local produce.  He was a smart man!

 

The fourth person I remember was Edward H. Hammond.  Ed’s presence was always large in Berlin, especially as the driving force behind the restoration of the Atlantic Hotel and the development and support of the Taylor House Museum.  After meeting Ed, I could consider no other to be more knowledgeable and supportive of the lore of Berlin.  He was encyclopedic of our local history and nothing was more enjoyable to Mr. Hammond than to share the stories.  Though sometimes, in his own self-descriptive, curmudgeonly fashion – once involved in a retelling, his obvious devotion to his hometown held any who listened, in thrall.

 

Along the way, I’ve met some other special folks – who have now passed on – native or no, who have shown themselves to be the best of Berlin Maryland history – who have also shared the lore.

I miss all of these folks.  They were to be admired and respected.  A town is its people.

In their honor, it is my wish that Berlin Maryland never lose its body of traditions; its story – its lore.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Living in Berlin MD 2012 – Some plusses and minuses viewed from West Street!

I’m pretty sure that Mike and I are responsible for this warmish winter!  Just before Christmas I abandoned my normally frugal habits and purchased a beautiful, designer winter coat; Mike purchased a pair of stout winter boots.  Neither of these ‘winter preparedness’ purchases has seen the light of day since delivery.  Aghhhh!  Do I rue these purchases – really, not at all!  Instead, we’ve all enjoyed a most unusual, warmish winter with far less spent in seasonal heating costs compared to the cold years.  A good thing!

Rather than begin the New Year with ‘resolutions’, I’ve chosen instead this year to have ‘intentions’.  For instance:  I’ve spent most every day in January intending to eliminate SPAM in my email inbox.  Each SPAM/Junk mail ‘should’ be accompanied by an ‘unsubscribe’ link to an unsubscribe ‘box’.  After weeks of clicking and carefully inserting my email address (one of several) in that box it looks as if I’m winning the battle.  An intention, carried out for which there is an almost immediate and ultimately, long-term reward in lessening daily frustrations!  Another plus!

I’ve been reading a lot about the ‘intentions’ of others too these days.  A quick read of the Minutes of the recent January 23rd Town of Berlin Maryland Mayor and Council meeting revealed a request from the Berlin Chamber of Commerce to be permitted to sell alcohol – beer and wine, at five Berlin annual events.  Of course these beverage refreshment sales are to take place within certain street boundaries.  What?  What are ‘we’ thinking?  Has it come to the point where a Town/Chamber sponsored, ‘family friendly’ event, lasting but several hours, street-side activity cannot be ‘enjoyed’ by the attendees without alcohol?   Are there not already several privately owned, bars and restaurants in Berlin who serve alcohol that no longer need the support and benefit that our events offer with increased crowds?  Are the Berlin Police to be asked to ignore individuals tottering to cars, post-event, preparing to take to the highways heading home?  Is it really fine that alcohol be readily available to event attendees but the traditional (and very popular) ‘Pig Races’ of Spring Celebration be discontinued due to concerns by the PETA folks?  Are we desperate for Chamber funding?  Are we hypocrites?  Are we nuts?

 

I’m no teetotaler – yet I believe this action puts the Town of Berlin MD upon the wrong path.  Ironically, shortly after the Octoberfest event I was conversing with two folks; one from Ocean City MD – one from Fenwick DE (who had attended Octoberfest and the Berlin Christmas Parade).  When asked where I was from – and answering, “Berlin” – each commented,  “Berlin is following Salisbury with the street event alcohol idea – a bad move” and further spoke about the high crime rate in Salisbury MD and that town’s deteriorating reputation.

 

I consider the Chamber’s intention a minus…with our Town crowing about substantially increased revenues due to our apportionment from nearby Casino Ocean Downs – perhaps  a few dollar could be siphoned off to what appears to be, our needy Chamber of Commerce?

 

BERLIN MD to “drop the Ball’ – again!

Despite being just two days before Christmas, during my weekly visit to the Berlin Farmers’ Market last Friday, much of the chatter seemed focused on the upcoming New Year’s Eve ‘Ball Drop’ here in Berlin.  The descriptive term, ‘wildly successful event’ was tossed about.  And, with the Town’s recent ordinance permitting alcohol to be consumed at designated street-side locations at our Town’s center, within view of the countdown, I’m betting that this year’s second annual celebration will be ‘wilder’ still.  It’s all in fun and only for a brief coulpa’ hours…we get to join in!

 

For those visiting from out of town, listed below are several suggestions for lodging – the first three within EASY walking distance of this second New Year’s Eve ‘wildly successful’ celebration in Historic Berlin, Maryland.  Don’t miss it!

 

The Atlantic Hotel – 2 North Main Street.  410-641-3589 -  http://atlantichotel.com

Holland House, Bed & Breakfast Inn – 5 Bay Street.  410-641-1956 – http://hollandhousebandb.com

Waystead Inn – 15 Harrison Avenue.  443-856-4755 – http://www.waysteadinn.com/

 

and a short drive away…

Merry Sherwood Plantation – 8909 Worcester Highway. 410-641-2112 – http://merrysherwood.com

(photo courtesy of Geren Mortensen, Sr.)

 

 

Halloween 2011 – eerier still…!

During last night’s Berlin Maryland Mayor and Council Meeting an even scarier specter of the Fall season was brought forth – that of small town government, acting mostly on hearsay, trying to legislate how local citizens may celebrate a most innocuous holiday event – Halloween.

The Council meeting room was filled with spectators, including many of the children who had enthusiastically participated for nearly two months creating a ‘Halloween house walking tour’ through a local backyard within the Berlin town limits.  With blessings from the Decatur Farms homeowners association and the backing of local schools, including offering community service hours, a family had opened their backyard as a setting for some seasonal celebratory fun.  Unfortunately, a last minute review by the Town’s Planning and Zoning Department erroneously found several Town ordinances were in possible jeopardy; that of operating a business (when no fees to participate were being collected?), and an unwittnessed visit by the local Fire Marshall citing in potential violations.

For over one hour, with much back and forth between the sponsoring family, various members of the Berlin Town Staff and the folks on the dais, these same children witnessed a somewhat heated debate – finally resulting in Mayor Gee Williams deciding to allow the event to take place on one night only instead of the planned six nights.  Of course, this was after Town Attorney, David Gaskill said that, according to Town Code, the Mayor and Council had no authority to speak to the matter…saying instead that since the Town Staff had brought the complaint that only the Berlin Zoning Appeals Board (meeting too late – next on November 15th) could find on this matter!

To quote Dorothy Parker – “What fresh hell is this…?”  With much of the United States population currently experiencing severe economic pressures and outwardly protesting Government activities including overregulation, our youth now gets to witness, first hand, how government works on a local level…not a good example folks.  Shame on you Town Staff!  Perhaps next time (and there will be a next time) you keep in mind to act ‘for’ rather than against the folks that pay your salaries!

Furthermore…

Unable to let rest my recent suggestion to the Town, that of finding a larger, more convenient location for the Berlin MD Farmers’ Market, I decided to head out and investigate other area Markets.

Seems our nearest  (14 miles) Market is in Snow Hill located at the Green Street Parking Lot; held on Tuesday afternoons from 2 – 6pm.  This market then vies for attention with the Camden Avenue (Salisbury) Farmers’ Market (23 miles from Berlin), also held on Tuesday from 4 – 6 pm.  Also, considered within our Worcester County region is the Ocean City Farmers’ Market – a distance of 15 miles from Berlin; held on Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday from 8am – 1pm.  Finally, adding a new market to our list: the AGH (Atlantic General Hospital) Wellness Community Farmers’ Market held each week from noon – 4pm.

One would believe that with all of these Markets offering FRESH/LOCAL produce and locally grown goods I’d have little more to say.  Yet I do…except for the new AGH market; these locations require some driving time; distance and GASOLINE; a consideration for every shopper.  More importantly, BERLIN MD is easily the central location – north to south/east to west not including the ocean!  The 21811 zip code boasts a current population of 19,476 – this number does not include the folks who live in West Ocean City – South Point – Newark or the lower end  (60th Street south) of the island – Ocean City MD.  A reasonable guestimate then would be 25,000+ people, who EAT – 2 to 3 times a day, potentially to be served by Berlin Farmers’ Market vendors – our local producers!   With the current focus on eating healthy – fresh/local, is there any question that to offer an expanded market with variety vendors and convenient parking would be worth a look?

Having heard several emotional reactions to my earlier suggestion – most centered on the CHARM of having the market at its present location, I say, “YES, I agree, we have a charming downtown market and I support it every single week with my business!”  However these days, with local producers/growers and consumers having to do much more with much less – the question comes down to ECONOMICS; with future unknowns we cannot continue to ignore – though for which we may prepare. We can’t eat Charm and Charm doesn’t pay the bills; not even the utility bills!

It is time for the folks at the top to take a clear, unemotional look toward the future of our Market with attention toward optimum economic development for area growers COMBINED with service and convenience for our citizens.  Berlin could do better…!

Note: Another, nearer location, has been suggested: the large vacant lot (currently for sale) on Harrison Street: Keeps our market within the ‘walk-able/bike-able’ distance for in town shoppers.

 

Willing to take a look?

Though often hidebound by tradition, it sometimes benefits to stand back – to get a closer look…

The Berlin MD Farmers’ Market has been a focus of my interest for many years. From the day, ten years ago, Tom Patton walked into our ice cream shop asking if I would ‘take over’ the job of Market Master – through today – though no longer officially involved, I’ve been devoted to our area farmers and the ever-growing community of people that they serve.

Our Market is prosperous…basically; our area growers are able to serve several hundred regular ‘consumers’ each week. And, with recent change in hours for the Wednesday market (2-6pm), adding after-work shopping convenience for local workers, those numbers continue to grow. A facebook page – Berlin Farmers Market, Berlin MD, offering interactive, current information also enjoys increasing popularity.

Yet, limitations remain… The downtown, wedge shaped, parking lot is small. Vendors have been denied admittance on Fridays due to lack of space. This location, with its absence of convenient parking, further demonstrates that space problem. With the advent of a new restaurant across the street, it shall get worse. Additionally, the twice-weekly Market continually creates a thorny issue for those folks who work downtown – on two of five workdays they must find alternative parking.

Furthermore, many vendors interested in joining, cannot, due to local Worcester County Health Department rules requiring water for hand-washing stations and such. The regulations are restrictive and very clear. Vendors offering prepared foods such as ice cream, fresh-made cheeses, etc. (already prepared in an approved kitchen) cannot join. And, until recently, when a Port-a-Potty was temporarily installed, vendors often had to resort to begging use of restrooms in shops throughout the town.

It’s apparent that these issues are not going to go away, but will, in fact, increase as our town grows – along with those attending, economic issues which affect us all.

What can we do? Herein lies ‘the look’ of which I wrote earlier.

We need to seek a new location. I propose something just north of our downtown district; at those underdeveloped, somewhat unattractive, town entrances – even closer by the ‘feeder’ highways; something large enough upon which to erect a year-round cover; have running water numberswiki.com

and restrooms with a pole barn perhaps – beneath which, vendors and customers can meet to transact business during inclement weather.

Driving around I have identified three locations – near enough to the downtown area to bike and yet convenient to highways – U.S. Route 50 and Rt. 113. A location near Rt. 346 – Old Ocean City Blvd, would be ideal. The Town currently owns the old Raynes property – which already has that aforementioned building. Then, there is the ‘LaHa’ property…a one-acre, weedy mess with a rapidly deteriorating structure. Finally, there is the old Tyson plant overflow parking area beside the railroad tracks – definitely large enough to handle a growing market.

Considering a more convenient, larger Berlin Farmers’ Market location is important and brings forth thoughts of benefit…we all eat; most of us, three times a day!

Our area growers and consumers will have a permanent, more centered location. With the advent of the ‘high tunnel’, providing a longer growing season, many local farmers are able to offer fresh, local product months earlier and seasonally later than just a few years ago. The traditional, Eastern Shore grown, ‘4th of July ready’ tomato was available at our Market on May 14th- just a few, to be sure, but there! Local grower availability also means less shipping…those costs that currently increase the price of every product! (Personally, lettuce grown in Pittsville trumps California lettuce every time!)

Another economic consideration – one that’s sure to please the Berlin MD Town Government financial folks, is that increased space will draw expanded variety vendors while attracting a wider consumer audience to the area = equaling more revenue! More important even, Berlin MD finds its place at the forefront of today’s ‘Farm to Table’ economic thrust. (Seems to me that we may be heading back (wisely) to that old ‘agrarian’ economy.)

Finally, dear to me as a cook, is the fact that the goods I purchase locally are FRESH – offered within hours of picking – insuring little to no loss of vital nutrients – offering ‘best value’ for every food dollar spent. No mean feat today!

With this blog I invite our Town Government and the Berlin Chamber of Commerce to take a look…and not be hidebound!

To add your comments, click on the post title…

The fulfillment of a dream – the “i’s” have it!

With the recent arrival of my iPad2, my collection of electronic gizmos is complete (for now)…fulfilling a life long dream.

Last Friday, a long-awaited (2 weeks) package arrived containing my iPad2.  Even the Fed Ex guy was grinning as he handed it to me.  Over the past couple of weeks he had stopped here several times delivering a couple of small connecting devices including the ‘magical’ iPad2 cover – but no Pad.  Upon receipt of each delivery I was unable to hide my distress – he was sympathetic.  LOL

To digress – As a young child, my mother and I would often board that old-fashioned form of public transportation – a bus, the Baltimore Transit System, that would take us from our home in Baltimore County to downtown Baltimore.  Frequently we visited the famed Walters Art Gallery or walked amongst the monuments on Charles Street, but most often we found ourselves before the huge door of what is currently known as the Central Branch of the Enoch Pratt Free Library, located at the corner of Calvert & Mulberry Streets.  For a joyous afternoon I was allowed the freedom to ‘get lost’ in the stacks; visit the Children’s Library Garden, study current exhibits and generally roam and read – as long as I was QUIETIt was then, as a child that I decided I wanted nothing more than to live my life within this building. To me a library represented (and still does) a place to seek answers to endless questions – to learn, to more info

study, to listen to music, to observe and imagine – without limits – my purest pleasure!  As a teen, I continued to make this journey on my own – still by bus, research for my schoolwork – mostly on Thursday evenings.  Sometimes, after studying, I’d stop briefly at Hutzler’s Department Store located on Howard Street to view current fashions!  During the 50’s and 60’s Baltimore was a ‘safe’ place; a truly grand time in my life…fond memories.

 

Flash forward 40+ years.  Baltimore is no longer a safe place, and although the Central Branch of the Pratt Library is still doing its library thing very well, I no longer wish to live there.  I now have my “I’s” …a big screen iMac upon which I do my work; write, research, pay bills and e-mail.  I have an iPhone4 – upon which I voice communicate; research, text and email.   And now, finally I have my iPad2!  Having spent the weekend researching and installing available iPad ‘apps’ I believe I have found the ultimate tool – an entire world-sized library and media center that weighs only 1.3 lbs!  And, with the huge amount of data worldwide being digitalized daily, by increasingly sophisticated equipment, the amount of accessible information increases exponentially; my limitless library grows – beside my window, in Berlin MD!

 

My heartfelt thanks to Steve Jobs & Co. for creating intuitive (and dependable) Apple OS products.  Thanks for the internet!  (Do I thank Mr. Gore?) Combined, all have helped fulfill one of my life-long fantasies – without having to move to Baltimore and live within those well-remembered, high ceilinged, marble floored halls.



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