Baltimore County News
Get An Orgnic Free-Range Chicken for You and One to Share
Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz helped provide a very special chicken lunch to clients of the County’s Westside Shelter this afternoon. The chicken came from one of the first deliveries of poultry raised at the County’s Maryland Agriculture Center and Farm Park in Cockeysville, through a community-supported agriculture program that provides farming education while helping those in need.
“I congratulate our County staff and partners for coming up with this dual-purpose program that helps teach people the value of farming, and, at the same time, provides much-needed food for hungry people,” said Kamenetz. “This is the kind of smart, innovative thinking that turns problems into solutions.”
A Poultry Partnership
The County departments of Planning and Recreation and Parks partnered with the non-profit organizations, Maryland Agricultural Resource Council (MARC) and Community Assistance Network (CAN) to develop this innovative program that combines social responsibility with agricultural education. Poultry for the People enables anyone to purchase a free-range organic chicken, raised at the 149-acre Center for Maryland Agriculture and Farm Park, and have a second chicken donated to help feed individuals in Baltimore County homeless shelters.
A Chicken for You and One to Share
The non-profit Maryland Agricultural Resource Council (MARC) offers a “buy one-gift one” purchase plan where anyone can purchase a chicken for themselves and one will be donated to a Baltimore County homeless shelter. Purchasers also receive a tax deduction for the majority of the purchase price. Prices and details are available on the MARC website.
Money raised through the sale of the chickens is used to help fund education programs at the farm park as well as at the County’s homeless shelters. The addition of chickens to the farm also serves to enhance existing educational programs and the overall farm experience of visitors to the park.
“It’s a win-win-win-win” says Richard Watson, President of the Maryland Agricultural Resource Council (MARC). “We get to expand farming operations, enhance our educational capacity, connect people to agriculture in a meaningful way, and provide homeless shelters with a consistent source of high-quality protein.”
A fundraising campaign sponsored by MARC on the Kickstarter web site raised $8,000 to cover the infrastructure necessary to care for the chickens including a 4-ton feeder bin, bringing water and electricity to the coop, and making the coop as fox-proof as possible.
Program Offers Nutrition Boost for Homeless Shelter Residents
Protein represents the largest component of any shelter’s food budget. For the balance of the menu, shelters rely on donations made by local churches and other charitable organizations, grocery stores, food pantries, restaurants and bakeries. While the shelters strive to provide well-balanced meals, the donation-based food supply makes meal planning difficult. Chefs work with what they have and are often forced to stretch meals by adding bread, rice or noodles.
Baltimore County Homeless Shelter Administrator, Terri Kingeter explains, “I am excited about the potential of this program to significantly enhance the overall quality of food being served at the homeless shelters. The protein provided by the Poultry for the People program will free up each shelter’s food budget which will help management purchase more fresh produce. We also cannot wait to engage our shelter youth, who comprise 27% of the shelter population, in hands-on experiential learning activities at the shelter and at the farm.”
– Community Raised Funds for $1.5 Million Park to be Built by Volunteers
This morning the sun shone brightly on the future home of Angel Park, a community-initiated project to create a storybook-themed $1.5 million all-inclusive playground and amphitheater specifically designed to be the most accessible playground in the area for children with special needs. Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz joined an enthusiastic crowd of community supporters and state and County officials in breaking ground to mark the official start of construction of the new park, located next to the Perry Hall Branch of the Baltimore County Public Library.
This unique project was conceived and majority-funded by the community through private donations and fundraising. Kelli and Andy Szczybor were inspired to create Angel Park in memory of their son Ryan, who died as a baby. “When you lose a child, you are just looking for something to help them live on and to help your family to heal,” said Angel Park co-founder Kelli Szczybor. The Szczybor family participated in the construction of Annie’s Playground in Harford County and found that to be a healing experience that they wanted to emulate for the Perry Hall community. “We want to do it right and have worked really hard to include everybody’s ideas and harness the energy of the whole community,” Szczybor said.
It will be the County’s largest all-inclusive playground specifically designed to accommodate children with special needs by eliminating physical and social barriers to inclusion – and, the group believes, the largest in the whole U.S.
“It’s extraordinary for community members to contribute so much time and effort to a project such as this, and the people of Perry Hall should be incredibly proud – they saw a need, came up with a plan and they continue to put in the work to provide this remarkable gift to their community, a gift that will improve the quality of life in Perry Hall for generations to come,” Kamenetz said. “This new park will give all children in the area the opportunity to unplug, connect with nature, grow their imaginations, get fit and experience the benefits to body, mind and spirit that come from playing outdoors.”
"When Baltimore County received this acreage next to the library in 2012, our office created a committee to create a sign for the property,” said District 5 Councilman David Marks. “The idea of Angel Park was born and it is coming to fruition thanks to a partnership between the public sector, private companies and hundreds of dedicated volunteers."
Designed by Kids for Kids
The playground design itself was generated with input from 4,500 pre-K through 5th graders from the Perry Hall area. The Angel Park group talked to all 4,500 “student designers” within a two-day period from nine local schools including: Perry Hall Elementary School, Joppa View Elementary School, Chapel Hill Elementary School, Gunpowder Elementary School, Seven Oaks Elementary School, Kingsville Elementary School, St. Joseph School in Fullerton, Perry Hall Christian, and Perry Hall Children’s Center.
The park will include a wheelchair-accessible “shaky bridge,” a Braille panel, therapeutic swings, 30-foot accessible ziplines, as well as quiet spaces for children with autism and other conditions. The storybook theme includes a fire truck, pirate ship, castle, music stations and a treehouse. Local elements include a seafood store, a Terps turtle, Police station, ice cream shop and more.
Funding for Angel Park
This groundbreaking is the culmination of two years of energetic fundraising by hundreds of volunteers from the Perry Hall Recreation Council. So far there are more than 200 donors at varying levels in the community, including sponsorships from corporations, local restaurants and individuals as well as government grants. To date, the group is still raising funds and needs approximately $200,000 more to construct everything they would like to include in the project.
Baltimore County Government is contributing a $250,000 grant from capital funds and bond bills are pending in the General Assembly for a total of $200,000. State Senator Kathy Klausmeier said, “I was happy to sponsor state grant funding to help make Angel Park a dream come true for kids and families in the Perry Hall area and beyond.”
Some of the major private sponsors include:
- Baltimore County Savings Bank – founding sponsor
- Platinum Sponsors (over $50,000)
- The Cole Foundation – sponsoring the amphitheater
- Rosedale Federal – sponsoring the memorial garden
- Two anonymous community donors – sponsoring the poured rubber surfacing and the picnic pavilion
- Gold Sponsors ($25,000 to $50,000)
- Whiting-Turner Contracting Company
- Wirtz & Daughters – providing all hardscaping and pavers for the site
- Bill’s Seafood
- St. Joseph Fullerton School and Parish
Community Volunteers to Build the Park
The playground construction itself will be done almost entirely by the Perry Hall Recreation Council’s community volunteers on County-owned land leased to the park and to be turned back over to the County for continuing maintenance.
The Angel Park founders are seeking volunteers from the community to do the hands-on construction during a planned ten-day community build period from July 8 through 17. Thousands of volunteers are being sought by the Perry Hall Recreation Council, with information available online at the Angel Park website.
“This a one-of-a-kind experience to work side by side with strangers to help create an amazing community resource for kids with special needs to be able to play with their friends and families,” Szczybor said.
Events and Outings for All
The weather outside may be getting a bit “frightful,” but the County’s parks are delightful in every season.
Sure, you’ll need to bundle up and instead of the water bottle you can take a thermos of hot chocolate, your camera, warm jacket, socks and boots, hat, scarf and see the sights! Imagine the sounds of the wind blowing through the forest, the rustle of leaves as you walk those same trails you love in the warm weather.
And, the fine folks at Baltimore County’s Department of Recreation and Parks, and all of our essential volunteers (“helpful elves” if you will) are eager to have a part in making your season bright, warm and filled with memories that will last well beyond the decorations and food.
Holiday Events Galore!
Your friends at Recreation and Parks and our many recreation and nature councils have lots of seasonal events that are sure to keep you in the spirit of the season in your eyes, in your bellies and in your heart, here are just a few…
Want to meet the “Big Guy?” Yep, SANTA’s making the rounds this December, and let us tell you, that guy really gets around:
- At Battle Grove Elementary on December 12, from 9 to 11 a.m. Sponsored by North Point Village Recreation Council (410-887-7180)
- At Bear Creek Elementary on December 12, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sponsored by Bear Creek Recreation Council (410-887-7529 for details and reservations)
- At Turner Station Recreation Council’s Christmas Celebration at Sollers Point Multi-Purpose Center on December 12, between noon and 4 p.m. (410-887-7134)
- Watersedge Recreation Council is having their Christmas event on December 13, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., at Watersedge Community Center (410-887-7134)
- Tuesday, December 8, West Inverness Recreation Council is sponsoring their Christmas event at the Inverness Center from 6:30 to 8 p.m. (410-887-7134)
Christmas Tree Sales – All for a Good Cause
- Hannah More Park in Reisterstown – on sale through December 24 (410-887-1142)
- TALMAR Gardens and Horticultural Therapy Center; inside the Sherwood entrance of Cromwell Valley Park. (410-825-2020)
- Mini Christmas Tree – Wednesday, December 9, 6:30 to 7:30 p.m., at Holt Center (410-887-5307)
- Natural Ornaments – Saturday, December 12, noon to 3 p.m., at Benjamin Banneker Historical Park and Museum (410-887-1081)
- Holiday Centerpieces – Saturday, December 12, 1 to 2:30 p.m., at Cromwell Valley Park (410-887-2503)
- Log Cabin Christmas – Sunday, December 13, noon to 3 p.m., at Holt Center (410-887-5307)
- Natural Ornament Making – Saturday and Sunday, December 12 and 13, at Oregon Ridge Nature Center (410-887-1815)
- Wreaths and Natural Ornaments – Saturday and Sunday, December 12 and 13, noon to 4 p.m., at Marshy Point Nature Center (410-887-2817)
- Short Days Candle Making – Saturday, December 19, 1 to 2:30 p.m., at Marshy Point Nature Center (410-887-2817)
- Solstice Candle Making – Sunday, December 20, 1 to 3 p.m., at Willow Grove Nature Center (410-887-2503)
- Make Signature Wrapping Paper and Giant Ribbons – Tuesday, December 15, 4:30 to 5:30 p.m., Holt Center (410-887-5307)
- Gingerbread Houses for You and the Birds – Saturday and Sunday, December 19 and 20, 1 to 3 p.m., at Oregon Ridge Nature Center (410-887-1815)
Some Very Special Events
- Holiday Craft Show, Saturday, December 12, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., at General John Stricker Middle School sponsored by Gray Charles Recreation Council (410-887-7180)
- Holiday Craft Show, Saturday, December 12, 9 a.m. to noon, inside Battle Grove Elementary School. Sponsored by North Point Village Recreation Council (410-887-7180)
- Holiday Basket BINGO, Saturday, December 12, 7 to 9 p.m., inside Battle Grove Elementary School sponsored by North Point Village Recreation Council (410-887-7180)
- 38th Annual Holly Tour at Ballestone-Stansbury House, Saturday and Sunday, December 12 and 13. Sponsored by Back River Recreation Council. Call for times. (410-887-0234)
- Holiday Party – Tuesday, December 15, 7 p.m. – Marshy Point Nature Center (410-887-2817)
- Winter Solstice Campfire, Friday, December 18, 7 to 8 p.m. – Benjamin Banneker Historical Park and Museum (410-887-1081)
- Kids Night Out, Friday, December 18, 6 to 9 p.m. – Lake Roland (410-887-4156)
- The Long Dark – Hike and Campfire – Friday, December 18, 7 to 8:30 p.m. – Marshy Point Nature Center (410-887-2817)
- S’mores, Stars and the Winter Solstice, Saturday, December 19, 6 to 8 p.m. – Lake Roland (410-887-4156)
- Christmas Movie-thon, Saturday, December 19, 2 to 4:30 p.m., at Holt Center (410-887-5307)
- Kwanzaa Celebration, Saturday, December 26, 1:30 to 3 p.m. – Benjamin Banneker Historical Park and Museum (410-887-1081)
- Winter Break Camp, Monday, December 28 through Thursday, December 31, 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., at Lake Roland (410-887-4156 – call for availability, details and pricing)
While this is a listing of some of Recreation and Parks holiday and seasonal events, you can be sure there is lots more for you to do with us. Select a link to all our recreation and nature offices where our staff members will be able to offer more information about the above events and let you know of other events of the season.
More Events at Enjoybaltimorecounty.com
Also, be sure to check out the County’s Tourism and Promotions website, enjoybaltimorecounty.com for more great events.
Greetings from Recreation and Parks
So you see, Baltimore County Recreation and Parks this time of the year probably should be at the top of your list when thinking holiday and seasonal programs and events. From all your friends at Recreation and Parks, here’s wishing you a great holiday season – and a Happy New Year, too!
Michael L. Schneider, Community Outreach Liaison, Baltimore County Department of Recreation and Parks
Revised April 6, 2016