Black Eyed Susans

Joe Richardson’s granddaughters Regan, 7, Jane, 5 and Iris Richardson, 3, run through a portion of the 15 acres of wildflowers planted on the Bar-T summer camp property. The flowers, a mix of multiple wildflowers, were planted in the fall by Jason Wood of Wood General Inc. with funding from the Feed a Bee program, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

It’s not the poppies from the Wizard of Oz, but the 15-acres of Black-eyed Susans at Bar-T Mountainside near Urbana does bring to mind a fairytale.

“It’s almost magical,” said Joe Richardson, owner of Bar-T, a summer camp, after-school program and environmental education center. “You look at a field like this and whether there are deer running through it or my granddaughters, there’s just a surreal quality to it.”

The flowers, a mix of multiple wildflowers, were planted in the fall by Jason Wood of Wood General Inc. with funding from the Feed a Bee program, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Black Eyed Susans

A honey bee rests on a blossom of a flower, a mix of multiple wildflowers, which were planted on the Bar-T camp in the fall by Jason Wood of Wood General Inc. with funding from the Feed a Bee program, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Feed a Bee is funded by Bayer and “is an initiative of the Bayer Bee Care Program focused on planting pollinator forage across the nation with the help of communities, individuals and organizational partners,” according to the Bayer Bee Care Program website.

“I really need to credit Lisa Orr, she’s … executive director of my nonprofit, Mountainside Education and Enrichment, and she sort of scours the landscape for partnerships with organizations,” Richardson said. “We’re always open to partnerships with organizations that can help us make this facility more sustainable.”

There’s almost 50 acres of cultivatable land at Bar-T, at least some of which has been used for more conventional agriculture in the past. 

Black Eyed Susans

Joe Richardson, owner of Bar-T, a summer camp, after-school program and environmental education center, with some of the 15 acres of wildflowers.

“We’ve been looking for best land practices and we know that for the next two to three years, we just want to build soils and create a more symbiotic relationship with nature, and pollinators certainly is part of the mission,” Richardson said.

Part of the mission at Bar-T, he said, is to teach and demonstrate different ways to manage land and be sustainable.

And Richardson pointed out that the things he’s been able to do, including a $1.3 million stream restoration, couldn't have been achieved without organizations that help.

“I’m presenting this facility as a perfect example of sustainability, but people don’t have the money just to go ahead and do this,” he said. “There are organizations that can help you do it and affiliating with them and partnering with them makes it all possible.”

Black Eyed Susans

The flowers, a mix of multiple wildflowers, which were planted on the Bar-T camp in the fall by Jason Wood of Wood General Inc. with funding from the Feed a Bee program, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Richardson said that for hundreds of years, there's been an environmental war against the planet and he wants to look at healing it with better land management and stewardship.

“I’m blessed to own this beautiful 115-acre farm,” he said. “I’m very concerned about climate change and global warming, and so in this very small parcel of land, I can kind of demonstrate practices that will help reverse the process and show others what it looks like.”

It’s not just wildflowers. In addition to the stream restoration project, 17 acres in warm and cool season pasture mixes were also planted. The project was funded by the Chesapeake Bay Foundations Farm Stewardship Agreement, which provided $300 per acre and 200 trees and shrubs, according to an email from Orr. 

“We’re not done,” Richardson said. “But this sure is fun.”

Follow Hannah on Twitter: @hannah_himes

(7) comments

KellyAlzan

LOVE it!

huskycats

You can spot a Bill Green photo a mile away. This man is a master of his art. Love seeing his pictures.

Greg F

Great idea....been looking for acreage to have a house on an would love to convert to something like this with more trees and wild elements vs just a cornfield. A wild prairie would be nice too. Need some links on where to get started/funding for this sort of thing.

public-redux

For funding you could look at your financial accounts.

Piedmontgardener

Love it. This is great stewardship of land and such a teaching tool for the kids who visit.

gary4books

Another Bill Green photograph. Puts a smile on my face.

TomWheatley

Exactly!! A classic photo I am sure the family will cherish. Great job, Bill!

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