Values And Goals

John B. Smith

We have lived on ChicoryLane Farm for over 37 years.  During that time we have focused on several different things -- its nearly 200 year old log farm house, the yard, and the land. Here, I will comment on some of our thinking about the land.

We are trying to enhance the natural landscape of the farm.  In doing so, we have identified three key values and goals:

First, we are trying to extend the ecological diversity of the farm.  We have identified ten different plant communities in this relatively small, 68 acre plot.  We are releasing plant species native to the area by managing invasive species, particularly non-native ones,  that would crowd them out if left alone.  We are also supplementing these natives with new plantings to increase their numbers and varieties, where these introductions are consistent with the plant communities. To date, most of our attention has been directed toward plants; in the future we will be giving more attention to birds, animals, and insects, again to increase their numbers and varieties consistent with the plant communities where they live.

Second, we are trying to extend the educational and research potential of the farm.  Last summer, we hosted a workshop dealing with native medicinal plants.  That workshop will be repeated this summer and we have scheduled a field day dealing with Old Farm Ecology: Conservation and Habitat Improvement for different Conditions.  We are also in the planning stages for a field day for Plein Aire Drawing and Painting.  We have also worked with several Penn State classes on student research and application projects, and we hope to increase this activity in the future.  We have also begun a Web site ( where we are lodging information, images, and perspective on the farm and its history, ecology, and landscape.  In addition to conventional pages, the site includes a database and GIS map and information layers of the farm.  These resources make the farm a potentially useful site for learning and research.

Third, we are trying to encourage an aesthetic awareness and understanding of the farm's  natural landscape.  "A wetland is not a wetland is not a wetland," to paraphrase Gertrude Stein.  There is great diversity in different kinds of wetlands, ranging from Wet Meadows, to Marshes, to Riparian Stream Banks, to Vernal Pools, to Old Ponds.   And in them there is considerable beauty and a variety of things to look at and to wonder about.  We are trying to see the different areas of the farm with fresh eyes and to encourage others to do the same.  We have put several slide shows of the farm on the Web site and will continue to do so, and we hope to host on-site field days so that others may come and draw or paint what they see as well as talk with others about what they see and what they think about it.

We invite readers to share their reactions to this post and to record their own views on such things.

January, 2012