The Stoutsenberger Farmstead is over 220 years old. Even under good conditions that would make it a challenge to keep it up. Truth be told, little maintenance has been done on the main structures for the last 15 years. In short, the place is showing its age.
One of the reasons for this is the farmstead’s isolation. The original farm lane was washed out long ago. When EcoVillage was developed around 15 years ago, access to the farmstead was not included among its network of roads. For that reason, it is quiet and largely undisturbed. Walk the farmstead grounds today and one can barely tell it is the twenty-first century. The lush growth and call of birds are easy to enjoy. The flip side of this is the challenge of how to make the farmstead accessible. How do we get a service vehicle to fix a roof? How might we sympathetically develop the farmstead for use in our time? Road access seems to be a key part of the solution.
How might a road link the farmstead to the outside world again. There are a number of options. Restore the old farm road is one. Another came to mind during a recent meeting of the EcoVillage Community Association’s Land Stewardship and Facilities Maintenance Committee. I chair what is known as the LS/FM Committee. At our August meeting we discussed how EcoVillage might become a FireWise Community, a project run by the Virginia Department of Forestry to prevent forest fires. Creating a pond to store water for fighting fire was one suggestion explored by the committee.
There used to be used a farm pond by the Stoutsenberger barn. It was washed out before I arrived at EcoVillage but many of the embankments are still in place. So here is the question: Is it worth exploring the possibility of restoring the farm pond as a way of fighting fires? Here is a rough map for your consideration.
A pond would not just recreate a feature of the Stoutsenberger Farmstead, it would also allow for vehicle access to the barn. This would connect the farmstead to EcoVillage and the outside world in new and exciting ways. It would also create an attractive view.
Here is the other side of the coin. To do so would require significant expenses and a big investment of time to build an access road. It would also disrupt the ecology of the area as trees would need to be cut and grading done to build a road. Dry land would be flooded. This is a view from the north side of the barn.
So readers, what do you think? Is it worth doing. Would the time, cost, destruction be worth the payoffs? Let me know your thoughts. I will put this on the agenda for the next LS/FM committee meeting. I will let you know how it goes there.