WEEK 8: Martin Van Buren National Historic Site

Can you believe that this week we have started our FINAL project for the summer? … I can’t either! Where has the summer gone?

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In the mist of realizing that my internship is almost coming to an end, our team has collaborated with Alex von Bieberstein to assist her with the Martin Van Buren National Historic Site (MAVA) project. The site is located in Kinderhook, New York and was purchased by Martin Van Buren after his presidency. In 1961, the site was established as a National Historic Landmark Designation and in 1971 it officially became a National Historic Site. Currently, the site is comprised of a variety of parcels 1. Federal Land, 2. Private Land, 3. and Parcels with easements. Within these parcels, the land is primarily farmed by Roxbury Farm, which is an organization that implements sustainable farming, such as organic and biodynamic practices.

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Roxbury Farm Infrastructure currently on MAVA site.

After an overview and presentation of the site and the project, Alex assigned us with the task of dividing and conquering 25 different Farm Features and Best Practices for the Agricultural Management Guidelines. I immediately dove into the Infrastructure (buildings, structures, processing and staging areas), farm equipment/storage, utilities and circulation systems for MAVA. During this task I learned about logistics, policies, current and preferred practices, programmatic opportunities, objectives (from NPS and Roxbury Farm), and detailed information like location/proximity, materials, and so on about each Feature or Practice.

To get a better understanding of these guidelines, Alex and Margie took us on an agriculture excursion to

1. Pete Lowie and Jens Backyard Birds

http://www.peteandjensbackyardbirds.com

2. Minute Man National Historical Park 

http://www.nps.gov/mima/index.htm

3. Meriam’s Corner to Hartwell Tavern Area

http://www.nps.gov/mima/learn/index.htm

4. Drumlin Farm Community Supported Agriculture

http://www.massaudubon.org/get-outdoors/wildlife-sanctuaries/drumlin-farm/farming/csa

which all served as case study sites for the project. Because we were not able to go visit MAVA this summer, these sites work perfectly for us to study and learn from. We got the opportunity to ask the farm staff several questions about the agricultural guidelines on their sites and actually got to do some hands on work (weed removal) in the field. This experience gave us a new perspective on our research and gave us some answers that articles and publications couldn’t provide for us. Like I always say, learning from something first hand is always the best way to learn!

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1Y7A0578DSC_0732DSC_0735Regarding my focus topics, I learned that a lot of these farmers prefer to use movable infrastructure and storage for convenience, travel, multi-purpose reasons, and to reduce compaction on soil. A lot of their infrastructure/storage is found on site, unless they are partnering with other organizations or do not need the storage in the infrastructure to be used or attended at all times. The farthest proximity for an offsite location averaged to about 3 miles. In terms of utilities, the farms opposed to using many generators, pumps or mechanical systems on site. They prefer simple and basic utilities that either run on PV panels or batteries for electricity. They also use gravity to distribute water and they recycle/compost solid waste instead of disposing it. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure!

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Movable Infrastructure: Everything is better on wheels !!!!!!

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Permanent Infrastructure: Green Houses

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Movable Infrastructure: Tents / Pavilions

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Movable Infrastructure (Interior): Tailors

Conveniently, during one of our stops I ran into another Hispanic Access Intern at Minute Man. WHAT A SMALL WORLD. We got the opportunity to learn about what Karla Morales is doing this summer and she gave us some great information about the park history. Thanks Karla, it was so nice to finally meet another intern from HAF!!!!

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DTP and Karla Morales (HAF intern) at Minute Man.

Overall, our field day was amazing. I learned and tried new things, met some really nice people, and Margie provided us with a delicious lunch at her BEAUTIFUL home!!! Thanks to everyone who contributed to this experience, I really appreciate it. I also want to let the DTP team know that I am excited that we are working on our last project together as a team. We have been working individually or in small groups all summer, so it is nice to have a different dynamic of working in the office.

Next week we will continue to work on MAVA and furthering our development for the Agricultural Management Guidelines, with some more research, excursions, and presentations. Stay tuned!

Until Next Week…

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