Nature Trail Design and Construction 2009

In April of 2009 GreenWoods was selected to design a nature trail for Sinkland Farms in Riner, Virginia. Susan Sink, owner/operator of Sinkland Farms, sought to create an educational site where children in grades K-5 could come to learn about the natural environment. Five months and many, many hours of research later, a 30-page development plan was delivered. The trail, intended to be a multi-year construction project, currently incorporates five separate learning stations. The educational components directly address the Science Standards of Learning for Virginia Public Schools, and include take-away activities for the home and classroom.

The five learning stations are titled: Birds & Butterflies; Re-use, Recycle, & Conserve; Grow Your Own; All About Trees; and The Water’s Edge. By showcasing native species and demonstrating conservation methods, the trail teaches children about the interconnectedness of their environment and the role they play within it. It offers a unique learning opportunity, and is destined to become popular with the area’s birders and butterfly watchers.

Trail construction commenced on April 17, 2010 with much-appreciated assistance from a couple dozen volunteers who were there to offer their time as part of Virginia Tech’s Big Event. Over twenty trees were planted that day, beginning the transformation of former pastureland into a more dynamic and beautiful space. Eventually, nearly one hundred trees and shrubs will fill the landscape and accent over 7,000 square feet of wildflower meadow. GreenWoods and Sinkland Farms are pleased to be teamed up for this unique and exciting project.

Click on any of the images below to view larger photos and a slideshow.

  • Matt getting some help from the Virginia Tech Big Event volunteers.
  • The Big Event volunteers working hard to plant a red maple.
  • Because this site was formerly used as pasture, the ground was very compacted and having a tractor on site was a big help.
  • We constructed four raised garden beds rom antique oak boards salvaged from an old barn on the property. The compost bins in the background were built as part of one of the learning stations.
  • Students learn about metamorphosis and habitat at the Birds & Butterflies station.
  • Students learn about photosynthesis and pollination at the Grow Your Own station.
  • Tree cookies are used to teach students about growth rates and how they are affected by resource availability.
  • Students explore the concept of limited resources. The colored balls are used to represent water, sunlight, and nutrients.