Annual and financial reports allow us to share information with Willowsford residents and others who support the Willowsford Conservancy.
What We Accomplished in 2016
The Conservancy continued to make significant investments in Willowsford’s trail system, building new trail segments, maintaining nearly 30 miles of nature trails, and adding signage, maps and trail amenities.
Throughout the year, we presented 15 trail adventure races in partnership with Rev3 Adventure, including mountain bike races, a Tenderfoot Adventure Race, 5K and 10K races, and our first half-marathon. And in August, the Conservancy opened the family-friendly Grant Campsite near the Grant Loop Trail, encouraging families to camp, hike, observe wildlife, and explore the outdoors.
Land Conservation and Related Education
Partnerships with non-profits and government agencies support our education programs as well as our work related to environmental stewardship and land conservation. Banshee Reeks Nature Preserve, the VA Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, Loudoun County Soil and Water Conservation District (LSWCD), the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy and Piedmont Environmental are just a few of our partners.
Programs this year included nature walks; bluebird nest box monitoring along our two nest box trails and launch of the resident bluebird nest box program; education on tick ecology; Home Habitat programs to help enhance residential yards; and our popular annual autumn Community Bonfire and Camp-over.
The Grange Wet Meadow habitat restoration project continued the creation of a native wildflower meadow. We expanded our Riparian Planting program with a second planting of native trees and shrubs to improve water quality in The Grove, supported by a grant from the LSWCD. And we partnered with the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute to begin multi-year deer browse surveys, collecting data to help protect Willowsford’s natural forest ecosystems.
Conservancy-programmed Summer Camp included a weeklong nature exploration camp and three “Discover” days where kids learned about sustainable farming along with kayaking, canoeing, fishing, forest exploration, and plant and wildlife identification.
Willowsford’s unique land conservation model often attracts groups of interested professionals who we hosted in events and tours to discuss land use, development and agriculture. Volunteer support continued to grow to over 170 individuals who volunteered in 2016.
In 2016, Willowsford Farm served 290 families with vegetable shares in its CSA program. Additional CSA shares included eggs, milk, flowers and chicken shares, along with many families who shop directly at the popular Grange Farm Stand. Serving the greater community, the Farm donated nearly a ton of fresh food to two area food banks while our hard-working herd of goats assisted with invasive plant removal at Banshee Reeks Nature Preserve.
In partnership with the Willowsford HOA, farm-to-kitchen education, summer camp and cooking classes showcased farm-grown ingredients. And, Loudoun County Public School cafeteria employees continued to receive skills training through Willowsford Farm and Kitchen.
In October, the Conservancy completed a comprehensive land conservation plan, with assistance from Virginia-based consultant Wetland Studies and Solutions, Inc. In November, we broke ground on a new maintenance facility to support our land management and conservation efforts. An additional full-time Conservancy Ranger position was filled in December.
In fiscal year 2015, we expanded the number of shares in our Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program to 215 vegetable shares. In total, Willowsford Farm supported more than 400 families through CSA shares and sales at the Farm Stand.
In July, the Conservancy hired its first full-time executive director. And in August, Loudoun and Fairfax County Public School culinary arts teachers spent a Professional Development Day at the Farm and Kitchen, followed by two knife skills training classes in September for more than 70 LCPS cafeteria managers.
We continue to expand the trail system, opening a new trail portion in The Grove in October. And throughout the year, the Conservancy presented 8 race events in partnership with Rev3 Adventure, including trail running, mountain biking, our signature Glow Run, and family adventure races.
We added a second Bluebird Nesting Box Loop in The Grove, continued the wet meadow habitat restoration project in The Grange, and offered a variety of family nature walks, food and culinary related events along with a weeklong nature summer camp – to promote wildlife conservation, outdoor recreation and healthy nutrition.
Thank you for your support.