Farm-to-Glass Brewing in Maryland

Thanks to our new Special Assignment Writer Amy Oliver for this article!

Raising a glass of wine at a tasting room in a winery next to a vineyard isn’t unusual in our region, but how about raising a pint of beer next to a hop yard? Imbibing a brew in a picturesque setting became easier in Maryland in the past few years.

In 2012, Maryland enacted a law allowing the licensing of farm or farmhouse breweries that produce up to 15,000 barrels of beer in a calendar year. Farm breweries must have homegrown hops, grain or fruit in their beer. A 2014 revision of the 2012 law opened the economic barn doors a little wider by allowing farm breweries to act as wholesalers and sell their products (up to 3,000 barrels a year) directly to bars and restaurants.

In pursuit of a scenic drive and a mild adventure on a hot September day, I visited Red Shedman Farm Brewery and Hop Yard, located in Mount Airy,

Brewmaster Vic Aellen

Brewmaster Vic Aellen

Maryland. Opened by brothers Vic, Anthony, and Eric Aellen in November 2014, the brewery and related tasting or tap room share the grounds with another, much larger, family operated business – Linganore Winecellars.

The tap room has seating for 85 and multiple beers are available. The drink menu on the day I visited included 11 beers and Silo Cider, a hard apple cider. Examples of offerings include “Suicide Blonde” IPA, a honey rye and a vanilla porter. Red Shedman also offers limited release beers with flavors like pumpkin and habanero pepper. Several beers are barrel-aged. Just in case you want to live the farm-to-glass lifestyle but don’t want visit the farm regularly, Red Shedman sells cans and growlers on-site and its beers are available in various local bars and restaurants. Silo Cider is also available at Frederick Keys Stadium.

Red Shedman seeks “to be as local as possible” according to Brewmaster Vic Aellen. Hops grown on the farm on approximately 550 hop plants were harvested in late August and additional hops are sourced from local farms. Juice made from locally grown apples is used to produce the hard cider.

Upcoming events include a shared building with Linganore for the duration of The Great Frederick Fair from September 18 – 26, and Harvest Fest at the Farm (including other farm breweries) on October 3. Please check the Red Shedman website for further information –

If your scenic drive or hike takes you to another region of Maryland but you still seek a cold beverage on your journey from a farmhouse or local brewery, the Brewers Association of Maryland website contains a Maryland brewery map and other brewery information –


Reckless oh Soul, Exploring…….and Recycling in “Cool” Mathews, Virginia

I was very fortunate to have had Kat Sharp as a team member at The People Garden Community Health Market in 2000-02, and delighted to discover her artistic skills which she regularly contributed to our chalkboard signage. I have Kat mural #4been even more fortunate to continue my friendship with Kat to see her flourish and make a unique mark, together with her partner Bronwyn Hughes, in the small Chesapeake Bay town of Mathews, Virginia, listed as 2014’s “One of the Smallest Cool Towns in America” by Budget Travel Magazine. I recently visited Mathews so that I could share how Kat Sharp and Bronwyn Hughes have made Mathews, Virginia even “cooler” and greener with the recent installation of a landmark, mosaic mural of recycled materials, located in plain sight on Matthew’s Main Street.

Halcyon Building on Main Street

Kat and Bronwyn bought the Halcyon Building, located on the corner of Main and Church Streets (240 Main Street – zip code 23109), seven years ago to set up Bronwyn’s accounting offices and Kat’s massage therapy studio. Built in 1926, the building housed the Foster’s Department Store for 60 years and the third floor still has the original wooden floors from a roller skating rink that operated at one time. The dynamic duo decided that the third floor could give Mathews something it did not have – a movie theatre. Bronwyn and Kat incorporated The Mathews Film Society into a non-profit and regularly show free films to the public in the space that even has an old-fashioned concessions stand.

Restless Kat had another idea brewing in her head as she kept looking at the large brick exterior wall of the building; she envisioned a three-story mosaic mural. Dating back to ancient Greece, and developed extensively by Roman craftsman, mostly in the form of pavements, mosaic art is the creation of decorative pictures and patterns on a surface by setting small colored pieces of glass, marble, tile or other materials in a bed of cement, plaster, and/or adhesive. Kat SharpKat took three years of percolating the project concept and approach. Most importantly, she needed a design that would work.

Kat says “she wanted to create something that must look like a piece of art rather than a bunch of recycled stuff on the side of a wall.”

To ensure the success of her project, Kat participated in a two-day hands-on class, with 27 others from around the world, to learn mosaic mural technique from one of the best, folk artist Isaiah Zagar, at Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens. Classes are offered nine times a year and generally include artists, teachers, community leaders, and civic planners from around the world.

Kat mural #20

Artist Isaiah Zagar

Isaiah Zagar is an award-winning mosaic mural artist whose work can be found on over 100 public walls throughout the city of Philadelphia and around the world. Having gained practical community development skills working with Peruvian folk artists through the Peace Corps, Zagar and his wife Julia settled in Philadelphia In the late 1960’s and helped spur the revitalization of the South Street area by purchasing and renovating derelict buildings, often adding colorful mosaics to the walls which make the streets sparkle. In 2002, Magic Gardens was incorporated as a non-profit to educate the public about mosaic and folk art, and make Zagar’s art accessible. Magic Gardens seeks to also foster civic engagement, community beautification, and artistic collaboration. Zagar has completed over 125 murals throughout Philly. The Magic Gardens site includes a fully tiled indoor space and a massive outdoor mosaic sculpture garden that spans half a block on Philadelphia’s famous South Street. Inside, visitors can view folk art statues, bicycle wheels, colorful glass bottles, Zagar’s hand-made tiles, and thousands of glittering mirrors.

His technique was initially more brickalage, which assembles whole tile squares, more than mosaic. He then began incorporating broken tiles, mirrors, pieces of wood, dishes and bottles. Zagar states that the brick, plaster or sheet rock walls of building are an ideal flat surface for building mosaics. Zagar method is abbreviated in the following steps:

  1. Shape a “blob” of colored cement. The cement is laid on a flat surface on top of a cloth, and featured objects such as whole tiles, bottles, ceramic objects are inserted into the blob. When dried, the blob is lifted off the cloth. Glue alone will not hold the blob to the wall. Zagar advises to poke holes for screws into the cement as it is drying.
  2. Install the blob(s) to the wall with adhesive and screws.
  3. Paint the design outline on the wall. After installing the blob, he paints around the blob with the design of the mural in a black acrylic paint.
  4. Break mirrors. Mirrors are the key because they always reflect the present, the light, the colors, and the viewer. They essentially become you and everything around you. Zagar makes the mirrors small with a glass cutting tool and knocks them loose with a metal scoring tool. He uses the smaller pieces to create a running line on either side of a drawn line. The mirror should be ¼” thick.
  5. Break tiles. The most time-consuming part of the process could be finding tiles; however, there are many places to find tiles since there is so much waste in renovation and building processes. He breaks the tile into smaller pieces by holding it in a gloved hand and hitting it with a hammer one at a time. The hand folds to help break the tile easily. Hitting it on a table will not give a great result, causing lots of splattering and running after pieces. You will want different sizes to fit the various spaces of the mural; and, as you go, you can break pieces to fit into smaller spaces that need filling.
  6. Apply mirrors and tiles with a water-based adhesive. Starting with the mirrors, apply them on either side of the black painted lines. Zagar recommends holding a bucket of mirror tiles and and a flat board carrying some tile adhesive. Swipe a tile across the board to pick up a bit of adhesive and gently press it to the wall. He also recommends leaving a small space of 1/8” between each piece of mirror for the grout to later hold them in place. Next, begin applying the first line of tiles..
  7. Apply concrete grout with a mixture ration of three parts sand to one part cement. Zagar uses the finest available sand to allow the cement to pack underneath the tiles and mirrors for a stronger hold. He uses a white Portland cement and mixes in rich acrylic universal tint (available in powder or liquid). He mixes the ingredients together and then pours in water and uses a hoe to rake back and forth. To test if there is the right amount of water, he rakes a row in the cement. If the cement doesn’t fall back into the hole, it is good. For a large mural of one color, mix the cement at once to have color consistency, mix a separate batch of cement for each different color. Wait 15-20 minutes until the cement settles. Then he uses a sponge dipped into water but not too wet. Stand sideways to look at the wall perpendicular so you are facing the cracks. Move as if cleaning with the sponge. Lift up and around. Use what falls to the ground. Wait 30-60 minutes before proceeding.
  8. Feather, or dry buff, with rubber gloves, then cloth gloves. Rub in circular motion all over the mural, rounding out the edges of the mural, and generally flattening things out. The sand helps shine the mirrors as you rub.
  9. Redefine the lines again with black acrylic paint…or another color.

Back in Mathews, Kat reached out to the Mathews Main Street committee and received their blessing for the project, which they then sponsored for The Mathews Main Street Inc’s Mosaic Mural Design Contest. Kat mural #9Main Street received a grant from the Owens Foundation to sponsor the contest with a $500 award. A jury of three people was formed, Lynn Abrams, a mosaic artist who teaches classic mosaics at the Bay School in Mathews, architect Frances Hudgins, and Kat Sharp as project director. After the deadline of April 12, 2013 for expressing interest in the contest, Kat and her committee spoke with each candidate about the design requirements and their interests. The guidelines for the contest were to illustrate a line from Walt Whitman’s poem ‘A Passage to India’, a passage that Bronwyn had discovered and particularly liked, and: 1) suit the building’s architecture; 2) translate well into a mosaic; and, 3) be appealing to the eye on a basic instinct level. Entries were due by May 15, 2013.

Elements from designs by two Mathews High School seniors, Sabrina Myers and Abbey Sorey were combined in the final selection and both girls split the prize. Myers and Sorey took on the task in their senior art class at Mathews Hi,gh School and taught by Karen Podd. The committee chose the top part Myers’ design along with the bottom part of Sorey’s design. Then the design went through a series of transformations before it was finalized.

In order to limit the installation time to under one month, Kat created full scale stencils to aid in transferring the design to the 43-foot high wall of the building. She took the design and made a grid on thick roofing paper and then cut out the details for the stencils. She figured out the waves on a grid area scaled to the wall. Key to Kat’s success was also hiring Michael Swiderski, who has rehabilitated many old houses in the area, to manage the project, which required scaffolding, addressing safety issues, and securing permits for local zoning and from the Virginia Department of Transportation due to blocking traffic at the intersection.

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Kat traveled a regular circuit to local thrift and tile shops to gather all of the tiles and secured the mirrors from a glass company. She also posted on Facebook “Mathews, WE Need your BLUE. Bring blue, or blue and white…plates, tiles, thick flat glass to the back of the Halcyon Building.” The sail portion of the mosaic was done all in mirrors, and grey tile was used for the wording of the quote.  However, she took the considerable effort to spread the word throughout the community and involve the work of local artists in the mosaic. The hull of the boat is a sheet of copper hammered and textured by wood-carver and sculptor Ben Richardson. Donated pottery, such as a starfish, came from The Poddery, owned by artists Karen and Robert Podd. Donated tiles from artist Jane Witmer and others were kept in their entirety during the installation. Judy Ambrose, known as “Oyster Mama” and providing oyster spat and customized services to many local oyster gardeners, donated her favorite oyster shells. Kat sprinkled the whole shells into the ocean waves in the design.

Kat began installing the mural in early June and was finished by June 28th. As I was driving into town on my way to visit Kat in August, the mural definitely stood out and inspired me to stop the car to admire it. Apparently, I am not the only one who admires this addition to Mathews as it was featured as the winning entry for the 2014 Mathews Market Days’ poster design. Congratulations, Kat and Bronwyn!

I highly recommend a visit to Mathews, Virginia as well as a stay at Kat’s neighbor, the Inn at Tabbs Creek, an eco-friendly and certified Virginia Green lodging establishment.


Silver Spring’s ECOPRINT: allowing clients to speak volumes about their priorities with sustainable printed messages

When labeling a print job “recycled paper” no longer satisfies your environmental conscious, Ecoprint in Silver Spring, Maryland has been striving since 1977, initially out of an old school bus, to assure the highest standards and the deepest shade of green for demonstrating your commitment to sustainable practices through your printed materials.

Simple but effective messaging, minimalist packaging and recyclability are key ways to make printing design and distribution choices that speaks volumes about your organization’s priorities. To date, other than business cards and a sponsorship postcard, Eco Studio has strictly utilized our website, blog and social media to communicate sustainable resources to the community in order to have the smallest footprint we can. However, we are moving towards developing a series of sustainable project and tour brochures that highlight resources within the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. In doing so, Eco Studio encourages others to also make the most responsible printing choices to reduce the impact on our region and planet. In fact, those buying printing are the largest contributors to shaping the sustainable impact of the printing industry on our planet.

Printing remains one of our nation’s biggest industries, generating approximately $100 billion a year and employing nearly a million people in over 35,000 shops. The industry uses millions of tons of paper, approximately 40% of trees harvested on our continent go to the manufacture of paper, and the vast majority harvested from virgin forests. Virgin paper production is one of the most energy intensive and dirtiest industries on the globe. Using recycled fibers and sustainable bleaching methods make huge strides in turning the tide. As well, the industry uses millions of gallons of solvents, cleaning compounds, and wetting agents; billions of pounds of inks and coatings; and untold amounts of non-renewable carbon-emitting energy.

Ecoprint uses an “eco-ink” product that takes printing ink to a new level of environmental sensitivity. Overall, their printing process is 100% Carbon Neutral with a net of ZERO Greenhouse Gas emissions. Along with printing, they offer “integrated services” for total project management that include conceptualization and design, data work, storage, and mailing services.  Moreover, Ecoprint will be able to document your environmental savings and make them visible to constituents and customers. In order to help clients make the most sustainable choices that effectively communicate their messages, Ecoprint has developed “the Little Green Book” that supports clients from the starting point in rethinking the overall design of their project and also provides an informative overview of the key elements involved in printing jobs:  choosing paper, inks and coatings, the production process and mailing and distribution.

Sustainable Printing Design Concepts:

During design, try to visualize all of your future needs for distribution.  By relentlessly focusing on the effective use of your printing and mailing, you can reduce both. This way you can create multi-purpose items that can be handed out – or self-mailed without the need for an outer envelope. As you select sustainable paper, inks and other design elements, there are plenty of choices that should be cost-effective while still offering top environmental credentials.

Avoid using “hard” labels or self-adhesive materials. These introduce contaminants that compromise the recyclability of your materials. Instead, use a water-based ink-jet to apply addresses and barcodes at the same time.

Hone mailing lists by aggressively de-duping names. Also, insist on “move update” processing for your lists to increase hit rate and eliminate wasteful “undeliverable as addressed” mail.

Try to make your whole piece recyclable – lose the foil stamping, UV coatings, or plastic inserts. (Staples and metal fasteners are okay, because they are easily separated out during recycling.)

Avoid use of metallic (gold, silver, bronze colored) inks. They end up adding toxins to the “de-inking sludge” output during the recycling process.

Ask for the chemical breakdown of soy-based inks. An ink can be called “soy-based” yet contain only 20% soy oil. That means the ink might still have lots of petroleum compounds that evaporate, releasing air pollutants. The chemical breakdown of the ink will reveal the percentage of VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds). Make sure VOCs are lower than 3%.

Avoid UV-cured inks and coatings. While not toxic, they create a thicker coating that interferes with the recycling of the printed piece.  UV-cured products also increase the energy intensity of print manufacturing and emit ozone, a pollutant when present in the lower atmosphere. Aqueous coating or varnish is a good alternative to heavier UV finishes. Either of these has a smaller eco-footprint: They use fewer solvents and VOCs during manufacturing, consume less energy, and result in a more recyclable finished product.

Consult with your printer about size and page count. A conscientious printer should be able to tell you which format wastes the least amount of paper. (This saves money, too.)

Ask whether “bleeds” (edge to edge images) require excessive rimming, thus wasting paper. Like most environmentally sound design decisions, this may save money too.

Cleverly try designing self-mailers to eliminate the need for an envelope or a postcard instead of a letter. This saves on paper, energy, and the cost of insertion.

Cut down on the packaging. Evaluate if you really need a box or folder to package your printed materials. This excessive packaging will quickly eat away your budget and environmental credibility.

When using envelopes, use “glassine” over “poly” windows. Glassine is a translucent paper product and is fully recyclable while actually looking classier.

Choose papers with a high post consumer (PCW) recycled fiber content. For uncoated stocks, this means 100% PCW. For coated papers, strive for at least 25% PCW. (Ecoprint Silk grades contain up to 60% PCW.)

Go Processed Chlorine Free (PCF) wherever possible. This means the paper was recycled and re-bleached without use of toxic chlorinated agents, which accumulate in the environment and threaten water quality and people’s health (especially children). Note: ECF (Elementally Chlorine Free) means the paper was still processed using Chlorine Dioxide, and it’s pretty much the industry standard – no kudos there.

Research your tree-free papers. These papers are made with fast-growing plants such as cotton, hemp, or kenaf (similar to bamboo – which is very invasive). Ecoprint favors kenaf because of its rapid growth, high yields, and less intensive processing requirements; however, it is priced much higher than recycled papers. Ecoprint believes recycled content papers remain a better environmental choice.

Try to use as light weight paper as possible. A 70 lb. paper uses 12% fewer resources than an 80 lb. sheet.

Monitor the printer’s overall footprint and energy conservation. Zone heating and cooling, reduced lighting, insulation, using renewable energy providers, and more efficient office and manufacturing equipment also make a big difference in the overall production process of your print job.

Take advantage of digital printing technology. It’s an efficient and economical way to produce shorter run jobs with less start-up waste – and very few chemicals.


9335 Fraser Avenue  –  Silver Spring, MD  20910  –  (301) 585-7077  –




ECO STUDIO hopes to see you there – we will be helping Healthy Living, Inc. provide cooking demonstrations.




ECO STUDIO hopes to see you there – we will be helping Healthy Living, Inc. provide cooking demonstrations.

Another Eco Sighting in Takoma Park

The Franklin Apartment building at 7520 Maple Avenue in Takoma Park, Maryland installed these large, deep rectangular planters for residents to grow vegetables and flowers on the eastern edge of their huge parking lot.

Apartment Gardens

Daily Eco Sightings – sunrise shots in Takoma Park, Maryland

What a sunrise!!! – Or, is this a mural made of recycled/repurposed materials that otherwise might end up in a landfill? I saw a lot of ceramic tiles and glass on my last trip to Community Forklift….and I would love to see more of these murals throughout the area.  You can visit this mural at the Takoma Park Library at 101 Philadelphia Avenue, Takoma Park, Maryland.

Sunrise Recycled...a good name I think