Colora, MD — On Tuesday, June 13th, the Cecil Land Trust (CLT) celebrated the local foods produced by Cecil County farms permanently conserved with conservation easement during the third meeting of the Cecil Conservation Partnership (CCP). The event, titled “What a Conservation Easement Tastes Like,” was held on the grounds of the conserved Kilby Farm in Colora. The CCP is a coalition of local organizations and state affiliates that provides a coherent, proactive, and unified voice for conservation, preservation, and conservation education in Cecil County.
Approximately 35 members of the CCP attended the evening’s meeting and enjoyed a locally-sourced, farm-to-table meal, hosted by Bill and Phyllis Kilby and Megan Kilby Coleman. “What we did here tonight is really about building community,” explained Mr. Kilby, President of Cecil Land Trust, “involving people and encouraging them to take greater part in the world around them, by doing things like enjoying local foods and cleaning up streams.”
A principal focus of the CCP is on protecting and sustaining healthy lands and clean waters in Cecil County, and the group’s third meeting incorporated themes of both land conservation and water quality improvement. Over a farm-to-table dinner, attendees heard from a number of speakers, including Matt Fleming (Director of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ Chesapeake and Coastal Service), who spoke about the public-private partnership (P3) stream restoration project underway on the Horst family farm along Post Road near Rising Sun.
“The work to restore the health of the Chesapeake Bay and its living resources can’t be done alone,” emphasized Mr. Fleming. “As I listened to the other guests at the Cecil Land Trust’s Farm to Table Dinner, I was truly honored and humbled by the level of dedication and leadership to advance environmental efforts that are bettering our communities, educating our young people, and restoring the Chesapeake Bay.”
The Principio Creek restoration project will help Cecil County meet its Watershed Implementation Program (WIP) goals by improving water quality in the Principio Creek and ultimately in the Chesapeake Bay, and is an excellent example of a public-private partnership. CLT works in partnership with Ecosystem Investment Partners to carry out the restoration work. The work is initially funded by private capital, and only after it is approved by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) are public funds disbursed. DNR recently announced an additional grant, in partnership with Cecil County, to CLT to restore another portion of Principio Creek on the Zartler family farm on Red Toad Road.
Dr. Virginia Kennedy, Director of Sustainability Programs and Curriculum at West Nottingham Academy (WNA) and CLT Board Member also emphasized the importance of partnerships in her comments to the group. Thanks to a partnership with CLT and the generosity of the Kilbys, WNA recently established and is in the process of interviewing candidates for the Mike Cairns Environmental Sustainability Fellowship. The Sustainability Fellowship will support a full-time graduate student to co-lead WNA’s Student Environmental Council (SEC). According to Dr. Kennedy, “The kinds of local partnerships we celebrated at the CCP meeting are the partnerships needed in today’s world; working organizations and members of local communities coming together to address challenges and find solutions for protecting the lands and waters that sustain all our lives.”
Also emphasizing the importance of both partnerships and the contribution of conserved land to a healthy quality of life, the farm-to-table supper featured a variety of products all made from the bounty of the Kilby Farm, protected with a conservation easement in 2014. The evening’s supper provided numerous answers to the question posed by CLT’s locally-sourced food initiative called “What Does a Conservation Easement Taste Like?”.
Members of the CCP enjoyed a main course of chili made with Kilby Farm ground beef, topped with Colby Cheese made with Kilby Farm milk. Firetower Farm Brewery, Cecil County’s first local brewery, offered guests a variety of beers made by grains grown on the Kilby Farm. Local baker Priscilla Stoltzfus uses spent grains produced through that brewing process to bake homemade whole grain-honey bread, also on offer to the evening’s guests, along with fresh Kilby Farm butter. Side dishes included deviled eggs made from the eggs of Kilby Farm and Stoltzfus cage-free chickens as well as bacon from Kilby Farm milk-fed pigs. To complete the supper, guests were invited to choose from a variety of Kilby Cream ice cream flavors, including a new product dubbed the “Best of Both Worlds” by Mr. Kilby in honor of the night’s partnership theme – a vanilla ice cream stout float made with Kilby Cream vanilla ice cream and Firetower Farm Brewery Full House Stout.
All products were produced on farms that have adopted conservation practices to protect soil and water, such as conservation easements and other best management practices (BMPs). The products are antibiotic and growth hormone free and are produced by family farmers in the local area.