SUSTAINABILITY MODELS & PROJECTS
SOLUTIONS FOR A HEALTHY EARTH
Fox Haven offers a place to explore and learn, for conversations about bigger questions and more sustainable ways to live. Below are examples of completed and ongoing projects that have taken place at the Learning Center and Fox Haven’s greater land. Be part of this enlightening conversation—register for an event or class, schedule a visit or retreat.
We want to cultivate the land in such a way as to increase the well-being of the land and all that call it home. We encourage and try to equip people with tools that build their connection to the land, with the hope that they will become agents of positive change.
- Fox Haven is conserving and protecting over 700 acres of land in Jefferson, Maryland. Of those, 578 acres are certified organic, in addition to 25 acres leased and managed by the non-profit farm that includes a 3-acre organically-managed heritage apple orchard, herb farm, and an education and retreat center.
- Since 1999, we’ve planted over 120,000 trees, 30+ acres of warm and cool-season grasses and shrubs, created riparian buffers along the Catoctin Creek and smaller feeder creeks.
- Four hundred acres are in permanent easements, protecting the land from development in a county that is currently seeing an influx of new development. This protected land will continue to provide an oasis, a sanctuary, an area where local residents and guests can go to experience nature in its wilder state.
- Hundreds of acres have been placed in the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP/CRP). CRP provides technical and financial assistance to landowners to address soil, water, and related natural resource concerns on their lands in an environmentally beneficial and cost-effective manner. CRP encourages landowners to convert highly erodible cropland and other environmentally sensitive areas to permanent cover, i.e. introducing native grasses, trees, filter strips, riparian forest buffers, wetlands, and shallow water habitats.
- Fourteen acres of forests have been dedicated to protect animals in a Wildlife Habitat Improvement Program (WHIP), resulting in the return of beaver, wood ducks, trout, and a multitude of birds by the creation of a diverse ecosystem.
- A wildlife sanctuary has been maintained by building brush piles that chipmunks, rabbits, snakes, squirrels and birds can hide in, have installed over 100 bluebird boxes, and 2 acres of pollinator strips to preserve threatened honeybees and wild insect pollinators, and 3 acres of monarch butterfly habitat with milkweed to help protect and support our pollinating friends.
- 131 acres have been dedicated to the Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation and 5 miles along the Catoctin Creek have been protected and enhanced though these farming and land management methods
- 160 acres of trees planted on contour lines in stream buffer zones that protect water quality in Catoctin Creek. Swales, ditches, and collecting ponds spread water out over the fields, where it can resupply groundwater.
- Solar panels generate power to bring groundwater up for drip irrigation at the herb farm. The solar panels on the barn also power the barn, dairy parlor event venue space, and the farmhouse with electricity to spare for others on the grid. Here is a link to see in real-time what amount of power is being generated.
- Photographs of local wildlife and educational exhibits are on display in the dairy parlor.
We embrace and are on a journey of applying the principles of regenerative agriculture. Excess carbon in our atmosphere is changing weather and climate patterns. Fox Haven uses regenerative practices to sequester carbon while gaining other benefits for soil and crop health.
- Holterholm Dairy Farm practices rotational grazing at Fox Haven’s Spring House, utilizing cow manure as organic fertilizer to enhance soil health. This process sequesters carbon, improves water absorption, and benefits pasture grasses, ultimately contributing to the quality of milk distributed by Organic Valley through Holterholm Farm. Fox Haven opposes Confined Animal Feed Operations (CAFO) for their detrimental effects on air and water quality, soil pollution, and the emergence of antibiotic-resistant pathogens impacting human health.
- Crop rotation and cover cropping are practiced on all cultivated land year-round. Never leaving the ground bare protects topsoil, rebuilds nutrients, and diversifies microscopic organisms in the soil.
- The farms of Fox Haven preserve the important fungal network that feeds plants and sequesters carbon, the soil biota, by using low or no-till practices that minimize disturbance to these critical living communities in the soil.
- Healthy, rich, biologically diverse soil is also amended with compost from the farmhouse kitchens.
Fox Haven’s demonstration gardens (vegetable, herbs, flowers, fruit and nuts), farm, classes, internships and projects teach principles and techniques, at any scale, to assist farmers and backyard gardeners in more sustainable practices to nourish people and the planet.
- The Learning Center’s herb CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) project benefits clinical and home herbalists in Maryland, Delaware, DC, West Virginia, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and beyond. It is the first of its kind in the region.
- Four acres of naturally managed heritage apples, fruit, and herbs reside at the Learning Center. We demonstrate the use of alley cropping with herbs in the middle of the orchard, as well as the use of hugelkulture beds to slowly break down nutrients in the soil.
- The learning center’s orchard was previously the site of an American Chestnut Research project, in cooperation with the American Chestnut Foundation. Once the research was completed in 2016, the 3 acres were planted with heritage apples and other fruit trees. Several chestnut trees remain in the orchard and nuts are harvested by staff, interns, and members of the American Chestnut Foundation and for roasting and further research.
- Ethical wild food foraging, and mushroom cultivation, and land stewardship are popular educational topics offered at the learning center. Teachings are focused on how to develop a reciprocal relationship with the Earth.
- Beekeeping happens throughout the Learning Center and LLC farms on diverse established habitats for over 400 types of bees found in our region. To ensure our bees have sufficient nutrition for the winter, we only harvest excess honey once a year, just before the spring nectar flow. Wax from the hives is used in creating salves and herbal remedies.
At Fox Haven, we’re on a mission to educate and inspire a new generation of caring Earth stewards. From ethical wild food foraging, herb farming & herbal studies, and beekeeping, to forest bathing, nature sound baths, wilderness skills, and homesteading, we empower learners of all ages to build new skills that better the environment and themselves.
- The Learning Center partners with non-profit organizations, academic institutions, and its volunteer community to advance a variety of formal research and citizen science research projects. Projects often continue year after year, contributing data into a body of results that researchers, teachers, thought leaders and practitioners use, and share with visitors in various ways.
- The Learning Center has partnered with Hood College graduate programs and Dr. April Boulton on research related to stream health, pollinator health and habitat, and organic pest management, including several pollinator strips and hillsides planted in native flowers in support of the research on native bees and honeybees. Beehives are kept in the orchard to support the growth of the apple trees and herbs, and to build biodiversity.
- Our Internships enrich research projects, formalize learning outcomes with hands-on experiences at Fox Haven, in partnership with institutions including Hood College, JMU, and the University of Maryland Applied Agriculture Program.
- Between 5-10 Learning Center herb farm internships are offered each year. Interns plant, tend, harvest, study, and craft herbal products with the herbs, and also assist in educating during the CSA classes.
- There are over 80 bluebird boxes along Fox Haven’s trails. The Learning Center has joined forces with bird researchers, birding clubs, and numerous students over the years. Together, they collect and share valuable data with the Cornell Ornithology labs.
- In 2016, the Learning Center installed a solar array on the roof of the big red barn. Visiting students can use the online monitoring site in their classroom science projects. As of June 2019, this solar array has saved over 164,000 lbs. of CO2 emissions, equivalent to planting over 4,200 trees.
- Educational signs along our walking trails and in our facilities promote our monarch butterfly sanctuary, pollinator habitats, riparian buffer zones, American Chestnut research, composting and soil health, biodiversity, pesticide-free gardening/farming, etc., making it possible for everyone that visits to learn something before they go. This includes the local and regional businesses, non-profits, and NGOs that hold retreats here.
- Special projects on the property are often created by scouts and students, as part of their community service for scout gold and eagle rewards
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