Baltimore Green Week kicks off with goats and chickens

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As part of the program for Family Farm Day at the Pearlstone Center, Elisheva Stark, the community garden coordinator, gets help from Jake Miller, 7, in dumping a bucket of compost -- which came from the day's luncheon -- for the chickens on the farm. At left (tan sweater) is Mia Klein, 3.

For the children visiting the Pearlstone Center's sustainable farm Sunday, the chickens and baby goats might have been the main event. But supporters of the Family Farm Day said they hope that interaction will be the start of a deeper connection with faith and the environment.

"It touches something deeper than themselves," said Sharon Goldman Wallach, 38, who attended the day with her father and two young daughters. "It's a double hit."


The Pearlstone Center event was one of the kickoff activities for Baltimore Green Week, a weeklong affair launched in 2004 as part of a Struever Bros. Earth Day celebration.

The week, now organized by the Baltimore Green Works nonprofit, includes hikes, cooking demonstrations and film screenings. The programs coincide with Earth Day on Tuesday and culminate Saturday in the Druid Hill Park EcoFest, featuring a scavenger hunt, music and bike rides, among other activities.


"We really tried to have a good, broad offering for people," said Jenny Morgan, a longtime member of the Baltimore Green Works board and the organization's acting executive director. "What's important to me is not necessarily important to the person next to me."

The Pearlstone Center, which is an agency of The Associated: Jewish Community Federationof Baltimore, started its 7-acre farm in 2006, according to its website. It's an example of a growing movement to connect Jewish families to their faith through activities related to the outdoors, food and environment.

"If religion does anything, it has to speak to what our values are and what's important now," said Dick Goldman, Wallach's father and the former manager of the Pearlstone Center. "The agricultural part speaks to our needs today."

Connecting the environmental movement to faith helps introduce green values to more people, said Pearlstone Executive Director Jakir Manela.

"For us, it's not only about nature connection, it's about spiritual connection," he said. "The religious environmental movement … has a way to reach people in a way that the secular movement cannot."

The Family Farm Day activities Sunday ranged from pickling to a milking demonstration. The programs are designed to help bring to life the agrarian traditions of the Jewish past, showing how people have lived in balance with the environment, Manela said.

More than 100 people attended, in addition to about 100 people staying at the center as part of a Passover retreat, he said.

"Passover is not only the holiday of freedom, it's the holiday of spring," Manela said. "That's one thing we want to contribute to Green Week. It's not only a movement of the last five, 10, 15 years, but the last 3,000 years."


Other Baltimore Green Week events include a walking tour Monday of the Inner Harbor's rain gardens and floating wetlands hosted by the Waterfront Partnership and Downtown Partnership of Baltimore and free tree giveaways Friday at the city's Whole Foods markets in Harbor East and Mount Washington, part of a broader effort to increase the number of trees in the city.

Since the start of Baltimore Green Week, the number of participants has grown from 400 to more than 5,000, Morgan said. Next Saturday's EcoFest is expected to draw about 2,500, she said.

"We are definitely going in the right direction to make this a very green and sustainable city," Morgan said. "From 10 years ago to now, it's mind boggling really how far we've come and this is a really good example of that."

For a schedule of Baltimore Green Week events visit