On Monday, the Designing the Parks team had an opportunity to tag along on a marathon day trip to Martin Van Buren National Historic Site in Kinderhook, New York. While the core project team discussed the updated treatment plan for the park in the morning, we got a chance to get a tour of the house and grounds from their summer high school interns and hear about their experiences with the park service. Each intern was focused on a particular aspect of the MAVA history, ranging from politics to how servants lived, and we got an amazing tour. Hearing how the park service influenced their future goals was unique and inspiring (one young man was able to tie his experience to his love of forensics!). Afterward, we got a chance to share our stories and answer their questions as well.
After lunch, we all sat down to talk with the park staff and Jody, one of the managers of Roxbury Farm, and Cathy Stanton, a Tufts professor who produced an ethnographic landscape study for MAVA. Roxbury Farm currently leases and manages the farmland at MAVA, and adheres to a regenerative farming policy. This means focusing on the region as an ecosystem, and supporting long-term health and sustainability of the land through organic farming practices, crop rotation, and efforts to improve soil health. The goal of our conversation was to begin developing a joint philosophy and “best practices” strategy for the farm and park. This allows for a clearer understanding of each other’s needs and practices as they work toward a joint goal of improved land conservation. Having never considered the unique challenges and efforts that go into a “working” landscape in the park system, being at such an active meeting was a wonderful opportunity!