PAGE COUNTY HIGH SCHOOL ECOLOGY/HORTICULTURE/AGRICULTURE STUDENTS:
On a recent spring afternoon, the big yellow Page County school bus stopped along Kauffmans Mill Road and let out a group of students next to the riparian area of the farm. They were joined by teachers Tracey Shifflett and Chris Reisinger to help plant a new wildflower demonstration area next to the river trail along the Shenandoah.
Jack and Sally Price, from the Old Rag Chapter of Master Naturalists, were guest presenters and discussed the importance of choosing native species, encouraging biodiversity and controlling invasives. Chris Anderson, executive director, described the partnership the Foundation has with the Smithsonian Institute, participating in a program to plant native warm season grasses and comparing the results between various management areas in the 52 acre riparian area.
The students worked hard and installed a variety of Virginia wildflowers including trillium, mayapple, jack in the pulpit, sweet shrub and iris. For the sunny spots, ironweed and joe pye weed will assist our native pollinators, along with cardinal flower and butterfly weed.
We look forward to watching these plants spread, adding beauty and diversity and providing an area for future student groups to add to with additional plantings and study.
THIS PROJECT WAS FUNDED WITH ASSISTANCE FROM THE PURE WATER FORUM, A NONPROFIT ORGANIZATION WITH A MISSION OF ‘IMPROVING WATER QUALITY AND WATER CONSERVATION THROUGH NETWORKING, COLLABORATION, EDUCATION AND ACTION IN THE SHENANDOAH RIVER WATERSHED’.
WARREN COUNTY CLASSICAL CONVERSATIONS STUDENTS: On another recent beautiful spring morning, a group of homeschool students from Warren County visited the farm for fun, education and exercise. We enjoyed hosting the students and had a special presentation by Page County geologist Roger Eubank who described the types of geology on the 270 acre property and the types of rock in the Shenandoah Valley. He also described the different specializations of geologists and what they study such as petrogeology, hydrogeology and paleontology. Mr. Eubank also showed wonderful specimens collected from his travels around the world.We learned that the river has played a big part in the formation of the farm with three distinct land terraces, each representing about 100,000 years of geologic time. We also discussed the role the river has played in creating such a rich and wonderful area for our garden near the White House by depositing rich alluvial sediment when the Shenandoah River floods.
We discovered just how deep the topsoil is during the archeology field camp held at the White House last summer in conjunction with the Archeology Society of Virginia. A careful excavation with a backhoe revealed that at least 6 1/2 feet of soil has been deposited since the house was built in 1760. Dr. Carol Nash, president of the ASV and James Madison University, noted that by studying the sediment layer, we can determine land use up river. As trees were cut following European settlement, more erosion occurred. The homeschool students, part of a program called Classical Conversations, watched as Chris Anderson led a demonstration called “All the Water in the World” in which water quantity was discussed and students were shown how much water is actually available for human consumption.