For staff development, relationship building … and fun! … the ACRES staff enjoys seasonal outings for each equinox or solstice. We aim to stay close to the land and the communities we serve, so we take these days out, closing the office and hitting the road. We meet regional partners, businesses, educators, farmers, or other service providers; we share favorite local eateries and we enjoy time spent exploring, moving and refreshing our perspective.
This September equinox, the team headed to the new Little River Wetlands Project office, where Betsy Yankowiak, Director of Preserves and Programs, walked us through the Little River Valley’s geologic and human history, as well as the organization’s history. We talked about managing land in a high-impact urban setting, and we learned about the 10-foot berm their team built in Eagle Marsh to keep non-native invasive fish from moving across the continental divide and reaching the Great Lakes.
Eagle Marsh, always vibrant, is positively brilliant right now, teeming with goldenrod, tall grasses, pollinators, water fowl and visitors. Go, see for yourself. Thanks, Betsy!
From Eagle Marsh, the team headed to Tolon in downtown Fort Wayne, for a farm to fork lunch fit for land lovers. Yum!
After lunch, we headed north to Huntertown … right next door to the office. We visited Hoffman Certified Organics, a family farm in the Cedar Creek Corridor. The Hoffman Family generously showed us around the farm, introducing us to their much-loved animals: chickens, turkeys and pigs!
The pigs responded so well to human touch, we might have to pop back over for a visit. We watched as Dotsie Hoffman, the family matriarch, fed and sang to the chickens. We learned about caring for these critters, the family’s experience growing their farm and what the animals need to thrive. Did I mention we got to pet pigs and hold chickens?
Following our hands-on farm tour, we headed a little further up the road to the local Izaak Walton League to hit the trails with caretaker Zach Walker. It was here that we first breathed in acknowledgement of the changing season: “Does it smell like fall to you? I smell fall!”
We hiked and hiked through tall grasses and late summer wildflowers (pictured above), along forested ravines over Cedar Creek and around ponds under open skies. We had a lot of fun crossing a canyon on a bridge. We stopped by the newly enhanced shooting range for league members and concluded our day’s voyage, grateful for the journey.
ACRES hopes you’re inspired by our adventures to enjoy the wonders of your region – and of each passing season.