February 1, 2012
This one comes from John Blackburn of FSC affiliate, Blackburn Architects:
One of our readers, Kelly, had a few great questions for me and I’d like to address two in today’s blog. (PS – Kelly writes a blog called Ride, Groom, Feed -the journal of a New Zealand Rider.) I hope my answers are helpful as it’s somewhat difficult to be specific since so much depends on your site, your program, and your goals. Thanks for your questions and for reading.
Q: “How can you allow flexibility for future development (that may never occur) without constricting the initial plans too much?”
A: Building for flexibility has its limits and you need to at least have a rough idea about how things might change in the future so you can plan for it in a reasonable and cost-effective way. Too much flexibility could ultimately end up adding to your costs, especially if the future needs are never realized. Here’s a couple of examples.
Regarding a site plan, say you want to build a 12-stall barn now, but may add or increase it to total 24 stalls later. I would recommend building a 12-stall barn with all of the horse stalls to one end so that you can add the future stalls to the other end to produce a 24-stall barn. That way the barn services (tack room, feed room, wash stalls, lounge/office, bathrooms) are all located to the center, where they are most efficient for a 24-stall barn. At the same time, if the services are at one end of a 12-stall barn, it’s still efficient for daily use.
Another example may be the question of where to build a barn and an outdoor arena with the idea that you’d like to add an indoor arena at some point in the future. A master plan can really help you to determine a phased build out of your entire program over time. If you do it once and take the time to fully plan for your entire potential program, you can determine the best placement for each structure and identify potential pitfalls to your site, understanding what can work best for your needs. There is no easy or simple explanation in this instance, but a master plan will help you (literally) visualize your success now and into the future.
Q: “I live in an area where it rains a lot. What are the most effective drainage solutions? Where should run-off water go? What kind of drains are the safest?”
Make sure the barn is on high ground and that all grade around the barn drains away from the barn. Same with paddock gates and lead paths. You can create storm drainage swales that lead to bio-retention ponds or back into the ground without eroding the surface soils. Safe drains depend on where they are located and their size. I try to avoid any conditions where a horse can step into or off a ledge and suffer a foot or leg injury. Use French drains where necessary to drain water into the soil without creating surface conditions that become or create hazards. Good site planning is critical and is another area where an experienced equestrian architect can provide a valuable service that the inexperienced architect does not have (and you will rarely receive from the design build or prefab barn builder).
October 31, 2011
A few weeks back, we posted a story about how agriculture-based communities are the new golf communities. It looks like we’ve influenced a developer in Illinois to do the same! (on second thought, he’s probably been working on the project for more than the past few weeks) You see, John DeWald & Associates recently broke ground on their newest development, Serosun Farms. This one is not like traditional subdivisions, though. As DeWald puts it, “The vision of Serosun Farms is to protect and preserve our land from future development and suburban sprawl.” Serosun will blend agricultural preservation and sustainable practices (including producing 70-80% of their own energy on site).
Not only will the community have large plot sizes to preserve open space, it will be centered around a 160-acre working, sustainable farm with an on-site farmer’s market and over 400 acres of open space, miles of hiking trails, fishing ponds, playgrounds, a community center, and an equestrian facility. In fact, the community will have extensive boarding and training facilities and will offer professional care to the residents’ horses.
Perhaps most exciting of all, this innovative community isn’t alone! According to the Urban Land Institute, there are more than 200 similar projects currently in the works.
The affiliates at Field Sport Concepts have extensive experience with every stage of the development of agriculture-based communities. In fact, our work at Bundoran Farm was the first working farm to be certified Gold by Audubon International. We are eager to work with you to develop the next conservation community!
October 4, 2011
It’s hard to beat the excitement of feeling your line go taut as you stand there in your waders. Well, one thing could make it better: knowing that fish you’re playing is wild. Don’t get us wrong, we appreciate stocked fish as much as the next guy. But there’s something special about knowing the water we’re fishing is clean enough that it can support natural robust biodiversity.
In this informative, and engaging, post, the author writes of the joys of fishing recovering streams in Vermont. With the help of conservation groups and concerned farmers, volunteer crews have been planting a series of shade trees and are working to shore up eroding banks. Where the streams in his area were once populated by old tires, plastic bags, bottles, and other garbage, they are now characterized by growing trout populations, more prolific streamside vegetation, and bigger hatches.
Every day, we are hearing about successful water quality improvement projects around the country. We would love to hear your stories!
September 30, 2011
For those of you who enjoy fishing, boating, hunting, hiking, and watching wildlife, this post may be of importance to you. Actually, if you value safe drinking water and are opposed to widespread flooding, you should probably keep reading.
You see, yesterday the U.S. EPA announced the Healthy Watersheds Initiative: A National Framework and Action Plan. This action plan is especially important because it was formulated with the understanding that our waters and aquatic ecosystems are dynamic and that they must be protected as whole, interconnected systems rather than as separate parts.
Traditionally, water improvement efforts are undertaken piecemeal and therefore fail to address many of the underlying factors. More specifically, much of EPA’s current water quality protection program has been aimed at remediating individual water bodies and in many cases, specific pollutants. The Healthy Water’s Initiative, on the other hand, expands the focus to protecting and maintaining high-quality waters, which is significantly more cost-effective than having to restore those waters.
Field Sport Concepts’ affiliate, Trout Headwaters, has long provided clients with knowledgeable solutions for both protecting and remediating threatened aquatic habitats. Check out our website to learn more!
September 28, 2011
There are a lot of golf courses in the U.S.! Florida has over 1,200 courses; Californians have over 1,000 to choose from; and Michigan, Texas, and New York each boast around 900 courses. As a result of the struggling economy, however, many of these courses are going out of business. Indeed, in 2008, only 72 new courses opened while 106 closed.
But, as they say, when one door closes another opens. As golf courses continue to close down across the country, communities are finding opportunities to repurpose them as public parks, archery clubs, community farms and gardens, public lakes, concert venues, composting facilities, wildlife sanctuaries, re-engineered wetlands, and field sport venues. And this is only a sample of all the ways golf courses can be re-used!
To learn more about golf course repurposing, check out this NPR story, “Finding New Uses for Troubled Golf Courses.” We would love to hear about how the courses in your community are being re-imagined.
With our multi-disciplinary team of affiliates, Field Sport Concepts has the range of expertise to help you convert that golf course into a more ecologically friendly, revenue-generating amenity.
September 26, 2011
Land conservation requires creativity. Stakeholders must come up with goals for the land, they must develop strategies for accomplishing their objectives, and perhaps most importantly, they must identify and secure funding for putting these strategies into play. Indeed, as one wise man once said, “Show me the money!”
All across the country, public agencies are working hard to show landowners the money. Today, for example, the Virginia Land Conservation Foundation awarded 17 grants totaling $2.4 million to preserve 2,234 acres across the Commonwealth. In Georgia, the Georgia Land Conservation Program aims to boost land conservation by offering state income tax credits in exchange for conservation land donations. And in Pennsylvania, the Land Trust Excellence Grants Program is still taking applications for grants to help fund conservation efforts. If you’re in that region, you still have time to apply!
September 19, 2011
Take a second to consider this for a second: would you rather eat a tomato that was shipped 1,000 miles or one that was grown just down the street? Don’t like tomatoes? Okay, how about raspberries? As you go out for a walk, wouldn’t it be nice to get away from all that pavement and go pick a couple raspberries as you admire the surrounding hills and meadows? As you make your breakfast in the morning, imagine admiring spectacular fall colors rather than your neighbor’s monochrome turf lawn.
As people begin to realize that residential developments don’t necessarily have to be ecological nightmares, localized agriculture has become, dare we say it, sexy. All across the country, residential developments that include agricultural components are springing up. Some communities are incorporating edible landscaping–like fruit and nut trees, berry bushes, cabbage, and lettuce–and allow residents to pick whatever they can use. Others include large tracts set aside for community gardening and even full-fledged farms. For example, FSC affiliate McKee Carson designed the master plan for Bundoran Farm, a 2,300-acre conservation community in beautiful rural Virginia that incorporates cattle, orchard and forestry operations, and a network of trails all while nestling 102 sensitively placed home sites into the landscape.
Best of all, the market is responding. Property values in agricultural areas are skyrocketing. Homeowners are demonstrating greater satisfaction with their choice of location. And homes in conservation developments are selling faster and for more than their counterparts in conventional developments.
We encourage you to learn more about incorporating agriculture into residential communities by reading The Wall Street Journal’s article “An Apple Tree Grows in Suburbia.”
August 16, 2011
Field Sport Concepts is an enthusiastic support of conservation easements. Please let us know how we can assist you in securing an easement for your land!
July 1, 2011
If you’re into horse racing, you’ve heard of Native Dancer – or “The Galloping Grey Ghost,” as the public used to call him. From 1952-54, the storied racehorse won 21 of 22 races, running itself into the history books and placing its home and training place – Sagamore Farm – on the map. Encompassing 530 beautiful acres, Sagamore is a crowned jewel of the Mid-Atlantic equestrian world.
Once owned by the Emerson and Vanderbilt families, Sagamore Farm is now in the hands of Kevin Plank, founder and CEO of Under Armour. No stranger to success himself, Mr. Plank has defined his goals for the property as rebuilding a top notch equestrian facility and competing again at the highest level. And it didn’t take long. Last November, their champion-in-training Shared Account came home wearing the first place ribbon from a $2 million Breeder’s Cup race. We tip our cap to you.
We’re proud to have been a part of the redevelopment of Sagamore Farm alongside the architect, Blackburn Architects, P.C – an FSC affiliate. And we wish them the best of luck in their future competitions. If there’s any truth to the commercial claiming “happy cows make happy cheese,” we see no reason why a farm full of happy horses shouldn’t bring back plenty of happy trophies…
To read more about Sagamore Farms and Blackburn Architects’ design of the site’s equestrian structures, check out this article by DCmud. For even more Sagamore in the news, here are two recent articles highlighting the farm and Mr. Plank: one by the Washington Post, and another from the New York Times.
If you or your family are enthusiastic horse lovers, we would be honored to help you reach your goals through design. Feel free to contact us, or click around the Field Sport Concepts website for more information. (Note: we cannot guarantee the athletic, prize-winning success of your horses; only their happiness.)