Summer days on the farm at Stratford


Farm camps started for nine teenagers and fifty 6-to 8-years-old on June 3 at Stratford Ecological Center on Liberty Road. The teen camp was new this year, and the campers spent most of their time out of my sight exploring the fields, woods, and wading in the stream, and I heard no complaints. Half of the younger group were first timers to farm camp and understandably a little nervous. Judging by the creative tie-dyed T-shirts flapping on a clothesline by late afternoon, and the enthusiastic singing under the big oak tree first thing Tuesday morning, it did not take long for them to start enjoying themselves. By Friday, as they arranged and rearranged the setup for their farmers market, they were real pros!

The Saturday after the first week of busy camp was a peaceful sunny day, with a vista of green in every direction. The first yoga class, open to the general public on the second Saturday of the month at 9 a.m., took place on the front lawn, in perfect harmony with nature. Afterwards, two families arrived to take part in the monthly family farm chores, with no lack of friendly baby animals to care for and fuss over.

On the same day Carl Gleditsch, a volunteer at Stratford, and a melittologist and beekeeper, fulfilled his promise at last year’s Enchanted Evening fundraiser, to give a talk and power point presentation “Meet the Pollinators” to the highest auction bidder. Nancy Gamso won and invited friends to join her. Such “activities” rather than “things” are the most popular at our auction.

Who knew the variety of pollinators who help pollinate numerous plants, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and even ice cream, that we include in our diet. Some grasses and alfalfa, eaten by cows in order to produce milk, need pollinators! Pollinators in Ohio include the wind, butterflies, beetles, wasps, moths, flies, bats, birds, and the 3,000 or so species of Carl’s favorite pollinator, bees. Carl concluded by encouraging us to make space in our lawns and flower beds, to grow a variety of native flowering plants from spring to fall. Also to leave uncultivated soil for the 70% of bees who make their homes there, and allow protective plant material to remain through the winter until the temperature reaches 50 degrees in the spring.

Haying has been constantly on our minds since early May. The farm has its own micro-climate, and the dry window of opportunity did not arise until last weekend. The first cutting took place in fields 1-3 on June 10. It was long and needed days to dry and turn. By the end of the week it was baled, hauled in, and the empty hayloft was transformed. The spelt in parts of fields 2 and 4 is getting close to the dough stage and will be cut for hay. The east end of field 5, which has been in pasture for seven years, has now been disced, and it and the middle of the North Pasture, are ready to be planted in corn.

Rows of earth have been cultivated in the Prairie, in order to have space for a wider variety of native plants. We obtained these plants from Natives in Harmony in Marengo and from native flower specialist, volunteer Bob Harter. Once the sturdy plants are in the ground, a cardboard collar is laid around them, and the area mulched. The bulk of this work is being done by our AmeriCorps Interns Mariah and Alejandro, and Mariah’s friend Lucy. Mariah had suggested to her it would be good R&R, while she continued her search for full-time employment. This is true for all ages visiting Stratford for any reason. The magic begins upon entering the winding lane and driving slowly under the overhanging trees until emerging into the open fields, and hopefully this feeling will continue long after leaving the farm.

Stratford is open to the general public during the summer on Saturdays from 9 a.m.-1 p.m., with special activities for visitors on the second Saturday of the month. Please check our web site and social media for details of upcoming events. If you would like to learn more about how you can support our “Give to Grow” Fundraiser on Thursday, Aug. 22, at the Columbus Zoo Africa Event Center, please contact [email protected]. We wish you a fun summer.

Pauline Scott is a farm and nature guide at Stratford Ecological Center, 3083 Liberty Road, Delaware. She can be reached at 740-363-2548 or by email at [email protected]. Website:

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