Friday, January 28, 2011

Brothers Biking Cross-Country for a Cause

By Molly McCoy
Staff Columnist
When twin brothers Robert and Patrick Brady first told their parents they wanted to bike across the country, they received a skeptical response.
“It was a little bit of a contentious subject for a while,” says Patrick, 23, who graduated from the University of Maine in 2010 with a B.S. in Civil Engineering, “but now they’ve warmed up to the idea.”
This June, Robert and Patrick will dip their rear bicycle wheels into the waters of Portland, Maine, and embark on a three-month journey that will bring them across the U.S. to Santa Barbara, California, and their front wheels will touch the Pacific. Much more than a joy ride, the two Kennebunk residents are participating in one of the many annual routes organized by the national fundraising and awareness group: Bike & Build.
Founded in 2002 by Marc Bush, Bike & Build is a 501(c)(3) independent nonprofit organization that works with young adults, ages 18-25, producing cross-country cycling trips to raise awareness and funds for affordable housing organizations. What began as two trips in the summer of 2003 has now evolved into an eight-event season in 2011. According to its website, Bike & Build has contributed $2,780,000 (including more than $490,000 donated during the summer of 2010) to housing groups for projects planned and executed by young adults.
Each of the Brady brothers needs to raise a total of $4,000 before they start pedaling in early June, and $1,000 each by March in order to receive the official bikes provided by the organization.
“We’re about a quarter of the way there because of very generous family donations, but now we’re branching out to make up the rest,” says Robert.
Along with their own fundraising activities, participating riders execute these building projects along the course of their routes. The riders stop at multiple locations to build houses with a variety of independent organizations, such as Habitat for Humanity, Hands On Gulf Coast, community housing corporations, land trusts, and more. The teams have dedicated more than 80,000 building hours and more than 5 million miles pedaled to date, setting a daunting expectation about the summer to come.
But the Brady brothers are up for the challenge.
“It will be physically demanding, for sure,” says Robert, who is currently finishing up his undergraduate degree in Landscape Architecture at Philadelphia University, “but at the same time, it’s going to be really rewarding. By the time we get to California, it will be more than worth it.”
Both Robert and Brady have participated in community service projects in the past, but nothing of this magnitude, they say. Robert cleaned up neighborhoods and reached out through Philadelphia University’s community service programs, while Patrick went on an alternative Spring Break in Tennessee where he rehabilitated nature trails. This time around, the boys will bike roughly 70 miles a day along with the 30 or so other riders in their group, staying in accommodations ranging from churches to camps and on the floors of school buildings.
“We’ve grown up mountain biking more than road-cycling, so the endurance factor is going to be a big change for us,” says Robert. “My experience is minimal, at best.”
“As is mine,” says Patrick, laughing. “I’ve never been on a bike for that long.”
He explains that the organization encourages a diligent pre-ride practice routine to get all participants in comparable shape for the trip. The brothers know they have their work cut out for them as the starting date approaches.
Most of all, the brothers are looking forward to the adventure of it all, meeting new people with a common goal.
“We thought, ‘What have we done in our lives so far? Why not do this now?’” says Robert. “Since we’re leaving from Portland, we can literally walk out our front door and say we biked from Maine to California. That’s pretty cool.”
For more information about Bike & Build and to sponsor Patrick or Robert’s trips, visit You can follow Robert and Patrick’s blogs about their training and the trip at and, respectively.
Photo caption: Local brothers Robert and Patrick Brady will bike cross-country this summer as part of Bike & Build’s annual fundraising and building efforts. (Courtesy photo)

Stonewall Kitchen Celebrates 20 Years

2011 marks the 20th anniversary of the internationally recognized, award-winning specialty food manufacturer Stonewall Kitchen. Based in York, Maine, the company was started in 1991 by entrepreneurs and New England natives Jim Stott and Jonathan King. Today, both men continue to be actively involved in the privately held company.
Operating out of their home in Hampton, NH, the two gardeners, waiters and “foodies” first started out in 1991 bottling products at night on an apartment-sized stove that they would sell at local farmers’ markets in the morning. Response to their products was overwhelmingly positive and soon the pair was wholesaling their handmade specialty foods throughout New England. Customers were, and still are, struck by the unique flavor combinations, creative and well-designed packaging and consistent quality for which Stonewall Kitchen is known. Throughout the 20 years, Jim Stott and Jonathan King have created a strong, recognizable brand that is displayed on shelves in specialty food stores throughout the nation and is beginning to be distributed throughout the world. The company is the most highly awarded specialty food manufacturer in the United States by the National Association of Specialty Food Trade. Along with dozens of individual awards, Stonewall Kitchen products have earned the Outstanding Product Line Award three times as well as several notable awards for Maine-based businesses.
With nine Company Stores along the East Coast, a worldwide wholesale division, thriving Internet and direct-to-consumer sales channels, a Cooking School, Cafe and a state-of-the-art production facility, the company continues to thrive. Stonewall Kitchen employs a yearly average of 300 people and looks forward to continued growth.
The 20th Anniversary Celebration begins this January with the introduction of a new celebratory jam, Wild Maine Blueberry Champagne Jam. This incredibly flavorful jam is inspired by the company’s number one selling product, Wild Maine Blueberry Jam, and is a limited reserve product. The entire staff with be noting the anniversary with a companywide celebration on February 12.
During the summer of 2011, Stonewall Kitchen will mark the 20th anniversary with a special project developed in conjunction with the George Marshall Store Art Gallery, a part of the Old York Historical Society, and Jacqueline Nooney, landscape designer and owner of Nooney Landscaping and Design. The project is named “From Garden to the Kitchen” and will feature a major installation of art in the expansive gardens at Stonewall Kitchen. Approximately 20 artists from the area will be selected to participate in this creative project that will tie each artist’s vision of the bounty of the harvest to the kitchen table. Opening parties, celebrations of the installation and special activities at the Gallery are planned for the summer.
For more information about Stonewall Kitchen or the anniversary celebration, please call 1-207-351-2713 or check for further details.
Photo caption: Stonewall Kitchen’s flagship store in York, ME. (Courtesy photo)

Preservation Work at Historic New England

Despite cold and snowy weather, several important preservation projects move forward at Historic New England’s Sayward-Wheeler House in York Harbor and the Sarah Orne Jewett House in South Berwick.
Walkers who frequent York’s Fishermen’s Walk may have noticed a good deal of activity at the Sayward-Wheeler House in recent months. The historic house museum, located adjacent to the new Route 103 bridge, is one of thirty-six properties owned and operated by Historic New England that are open for public tours in the summer months. Aided by a grant from the Institute of Library and Museum Services, work has been ongoing in the basement of the historic house, where insulation and a radiant heat concrete floor were installed as part of a new climate control system. Upcoming improvements to the Sayward-Wheeler House’s gutters and the installation of a dehumidification unit will also be part of the system. When complete, the different elements of the climate control system will work together to efficiently move excess humidity away from the house, helping to preserve the fabric of the structure as well as stabilizing the interior climate for the benefit of the museum collections. In early January, six windows were removed from the riverside elevation of the Sayward-Wheeler House. The windows will undergo a complete sash restoration by the Historic New England carpentry team, including the removal and re-glazing of all panes. The windows will be re-installed in the freshly painted facade of the house in time for the museum’s opening in June.
At Historic New England’s Sarah Orne Jewett House, located in downtown South Berwick, a new roof is being installed. In keeping with the organization’s preservation philosophy, the existing Jewett House shingles are being replaced in-kind with new eighteen-inch cedar shingles that match the coursing of the current roof and replicate the existing ridge details. Cedar was chosen for its natural resistance to mildew and rot and its durability relative to other wood species. The roof project, partially funded by a grant from the Davis Family Foundation, also includes sheathing repair and new copper flashing and drip edges. The roof improvements will protect the Jewett House from weather for another twenty to thirty years.
Preservation projects at both houses, and ongoing projects at numerous other Historic New England properties, have been made possible by the organization’s Preservation Maintenance Fund. The Fund was established in 2009 through the largest private grant ever received by the organization, totaling $3 million over three years. The Fund was specifically established to support projects that contribute to the long-term sustainability of Historic New England’s properties and finances. Examples include reducing costs by installing efficient heating systems, replacing roofs with materials that will be good for twenty or more years, and resolving water penetration issues. The grant stipulates that Historic New England raise $1.8 million in matching funds by the end of 2011. For more information about the Preservation Maintenance Fund or to make a donation in support of it, please visit the Historic New England website ( or call the organization’s development office at 617-994-5951.
Besides preserving wonderful historic structures, Historic New England is committed to sharing the knowledge gained from its Preservation Maintenance Fund work in the form of “white papers,” or best practice documents. It is the organization’s hope that the white papers will assist other preservation organizations, museums, and historic homeowners in tackling their own preservation projects. A growing collection of white papers are available for study on the Historic New England website. For more information about preservation work in South Berwick or York, is encouraged to contact site manager Peggy Wishart at 207-384-2454.
Photo caption: Roof replacement is underway at the Sarah Orne Jewett House in South Berwick. (Photos courtesy of Historic New England)