March 2024 at ThorpeWood

Welcome to our March newsletter!

At ThorpeWood, spring has sprung and we are gearing up for a busy season of programs and community events. 

For nearly the entire month of March, the ThorpeWood team was grateful to host a group of Amish young men from Nappanee, Indiana at our Homestead House. This long-standing partnership is a product of the Anabaptist and Amish Service Program (IAASP). The IAASP works with our National Parks Service to arrange opportunities for young men ages 19 to 25 to serve their country without joining the military. All month, this group completed projects with nearby Catoctin Mountain Park. In exchange for their accommodations at ThorpeWood, the group generously donated some of their time and craftsmanship to help with a few projects around the farm. They removed and re-built a bridge over part of our pond, finished repairing and installed upcycled barn board inside the Homestead Barn, installed our new Free Library at the end of the farm lane, and laid the foundations to install our new ThorpeWood Farm sign. Our team looks forward to their work and companionship every year. Here is a small sampling of the beautiful work they did: 

An inside view of our Homestead Barn, whose inside walls are now fully adorned with upcycled barn board.

In ThorpeWood programs news, our two cohorts from FCPS middle schools returned to the farm for their second visits as part of our partnership with CASS (Community Agency School Services). The students learned about mindfulness techniques and crafted their own “worry jars” to take home. They hiked around the property to learn more about ThorpeWood’s hiking trails, stream, garden, arboretum, and pond in preparation for a scavenger hunt on their next visit. We were delighted to receive some feedback from the students, who reported having fun and learning new things.  “I learned a way to help myself when I am worried or anxious,” one student shared. Another wrote, “ What I learned was even when things get tough, you still have to keep going. Don’t give up.” We’re excited to have each cohort back for two more visits to round out the school year!

The ThorpeWood team also spent time with students from the Walkersville High School Multilingual Education (ME) Department, who came to the farm for a fun morning of group bonding, honey bee education, an egg hunt, and lunch around the campfire. Special thanks to our partner Art MacLarty of Three Spartans Apiary, who cares for the honey bees on our property and provided a special presentation for the ME students!

Frederick Health Hospice’s Teen Grief Retreat, Camp Jamie, returned for its fifth biannual event at ThorpeWood. On Saturday, March 16th, nine teens spent the day with professional grief counselors, specially trained volunteers, and ThorpeWood staff members. Together they learned new coping skills for navigating their grief, shared about their experiences, and spent time on our trails and with our animals. It was a powerful day of healing, and we are grateful for the opportunity to continue supporting Camp Jamie through our partnership with Frederick Health Hospice.

Our inaugural Healing Ourselves & Our Planet support group continues to thrive. In March participants spent time exploring how to manage difficult emotions related to the climate crisis, such as eco-anger and despair, before redirecting into discussing how we can build resilience and live with hope in a changing world. In the coming weeks we will begin to discuss what activism and sustainability look like on personal, local, and global levels. 

Three staff groups from FCPS spent a day at the ThorpeWood lodge and property this March. The Western/North Central MD Social Studies Consortium had a full day of meetings at the lodge. FCPS Mental Health Supports & Psychological Services and the Middletown Middle School Social Studies Department spent their time at ThorpeWood meeting, training, and retreating. They both squeezed in some relaxing time with the farm animals at the end of the day. 

In the garden, our first spring crops are officially in the ground! Our property team, Jeff and Tim, topped off last year’s raised beds and filled two new ones with nutritious compost from our manure pile. With a grand team effort and a few sessions of digging, Facility Manager Sam W., part-time garden assistant Phebe, and Farm Manager Clare dug trenches for our potatoes and planted onions, lettuce, arugula, spinach, and peas. We’re so excited to get our program participants in the garden! Plus, keep a lookout for garden volunteering opportunities as the season ramps up. 

We hope everyone is staying cozy and safe as we weather these April showers. Stay tuned for announcements about two exciting community events happening in May! We’ll give you a hint about one of them: April showers bring…? 

See ya ’round the mountain,
The Team at ThorpeWood