Volunteer Day – Restoring Ridgeview Farm at the Sanctuary

Join Ridgeview Farm’s “Meadow Larks” volunteer crew

Enjoy a Delicious Lunch lovingly prepared by

Work Leaders, Nancy Stranahan, Marilyn Welker, & Brent Charette

Saturday, November 2, 2019

From 9:30 am to 1:30, followed by a HEARTY warm meal. Bring a few snacks.
Meet at Ridgeview Farm (directions below)
Free Lodging available at the Arc’s Volunteer Headquarters. Please inquire when you register.


Our Vision for Ridgeview Farm.

At Ridgeview Farm the Arc is demonstrating that bringing biodiversity back to an abandoned farm is indeed possible. The results of a decade of the redemptive work in Ridgeview’s fields and swamp forest have been ASTONISHING!.  Our goal is to keep our fields FIELDS for the wild turkeys, bobwhite, fox squirrels, and the rare Henslow’s sparrows. Henslow’s sparrows LOVE Ridgeview and each year the farm provides habitat to over a dozen breeding pairs. There are more chimpanzees in the world than there are this rare sparrow, so we work hard to maintain the kind of meadow this native bird requires. Our other goal is to restore our SWAMP FOREST with its beautiful colonies of wetlands plants, a forest that was previously used as a pig wallow when Ridgeview was a working farm, which created quite a disturbance as you can imagine!  These two goals are achieved by similar methods: removing the Autumn Olives from the fields and removing the Bush honeysuckles and Multiflora Roses from the swamp forest.This spring we will be working in a new area of the lush spring-fed forest of Ridgeview Farm, making more room for Ridgeview’s native drooping trillium, spotted phlox, march marigold, and skunk cabbage!

Our tasks for this Work Day. 

We are going to plunge into a new work area!! On this day we will be moving into the northern reaches of the riparian corridor that runs through the farm and has received little attention. To put it in plain terms for people who know the farm, we will be walking into the heart of the farm in the usual way, and then, instead of turning right, we will turning LEFT, heading north along the stream, and then following the established trail until it crosses the stream. There we are dipping into the the small ravine and working to remove the honeysuckle and multiflora that has gotten established there during the land’s service days as a working farm. There are plenty of canopy trees – walnuts, hackberries, and elms – to shade the opening understory and this trees will help protect the work we accomplished. We are really excited  to start “cleaning” out this sweet little ravine and assisting the native flora to re-establish in the understory once the non-native sun-blockers are removed. 

Leaders: Nancy Stranahan and Marilyn Welker

Nancy Stranahan has been the Director of the Arc of Appalachia Preserve System for 24 years. She has lived on the 130-acre Ridgeview Farm tract of the Highlands Nature Sanctuary for nearly a decade. She is deeply in love with the old farm and has become a dedicated servant to its recovery, along with her partner Brent Charette. They delights in recording the many new native species that appear on the property each year, as the forests and fields become increasingly complex. Ridgeview is an “ark” for birds and mammals. It has vultures and barn owls in the barn; turkeys, voles, coyotes, and jumping mice in its fields; ospreys, cooper hawks and bald eagles in the tree snags, and groundhogs and rabbits in the brush piles, just to name a few of its many denizens.

Photo by Bill Lackey, Springfield News Sun

Marilyn Welker is one of Ohio’s leading thinkers and leaders in the realms of sustainable lifestyles, wildlands protection, raising healthy food, education, and the farm to table movement. She was Director of the Columbus-based non-profit, Simply Living, for much of her life. Now retired from that position, she is, as you can imagine, busier than ever! The photo shows her with the Springfield Promise Neighborhood summer program in their tended garden at Lincoln Elementary School.

Lunch is on us!

Earlier in her career, Nancy ran a vegetarian cafe and bakery in Columbus, OH known as Benevolence. Nancy and Marilyn both have fond memories of this establishment. Both ladies are pleased to nourish the Ridgeview Farm’s working crew, known as the Meadow Larks, with a healthy and delicious lunch, followed by a delightfully “deadly” dessert from Nancy’s bakery days (no guaranteed health benefits there!). 

Ridgeview Farm’s Natural History

Ridgeview Farm’s fields is not only home to the rare Henslow’s Sparrow, Tree Swallow, and bluebird, but its wetland forest shelters Swamp White oaks, Marsh Marigolds, and Skunk Cabbages, as well as other wetland plants as Marsh Fern, Queen of the Prairie, Meadow Phlox, Michigan Lily, and Drooping Trillium. The preserve’s fields and forests boasts one of the most beautiful firefly displays in the Arc system, and it is home to an educational Chestnut Orchard with three species of native chestnuts, including the blight-resistant F-3 hybrids. Ridgeview is especially beautiful in mid September when the goldenrod meadows blaze like glowing embers, and  again at the end of September/early October when five species of field asters burst into bloom, including large populations of the vibrant New England Aster. 

Physical Requirements

No invasive removal experience is necessary for this work day, and the tasks do not take a lot of physical endurance nor strength. Garlic mustard plucking in the spring requires only light bending at the waist, since the garlic mustard grows almost to hip height and pulls out of the ground easily. Sawing or cutting  invasive woody shrubs and canes at their bases does require squatting close to the ground, so workers on this task need flexibility and good joints. We will be applying herbicide in small quantities to the cut stems of the woody invasives, Volunteers will be trained in safe application.

What to Bring

Bring a bottle of drinking water, and, if you are coming to remove woody plants and do not have prescription glasses, bring a pair of sunglasses for eye protection. We also recommend wearing footwear with a good tread, and a brimmed hat to keep the sun off your face. In the fall, our meadows are filled with various “stick-tight” seeds, so be sure not to wear fleece or other fuzzy fabrics. The smoother the fabric the better. If you have your own clippers, garden gloves with rubber coated protection, and light handsaws, bring them along. If you don’t, we can share our tools with you. Poison ivy will not be a major problem in the fall or early spring since the leaves are not out  However, if you are extra sensitive to this allergen, it’s best to stay out of the meadows any time of the year, and we recommend that you choose projects that work primarily in the forest and stay out of the meadows. Bugs will not be a problem.


Please contact Kayla Hanning with any questions at services@arcofappalachia.org or 937-365-1935.


Ridgeview Farm, 6636 State Route 753, Hillsboro Ohio 45133

Meet in the parking lot of Ridgeview Farm. Ridgeview Farm is on the west side of the Highlands Nature Sanctuary, lying 1.8 miles south of HIghway 50, 7 miles from the Appalachian Forest Museum, 10.5 miles west of Bainbridge, and 12.5 miles east of Hillsboro. Directions:  From Rainsboro, OH on Highway 50, travel one mile west on 50 to a flashing yellow light, and turn south at the light onto SR 753. Set your odometer and drive exactly 1.8 miles south on State Route 753. Watch on your left for a green road sign marking a gravel lane that says “Beaver Cemetery.” Turn left on this lane. It will almost immediately split. The left lane will take you back to the cemetery, and the right lane will take you to Ridgeview. Bear right and you will soon see Ridgeview’s big red barn and two story gray wood sided house. Park between the barn and the carriage-style garage. If you miss the turn, you will soon see an old brick one room schoolhouse on your right. Then turn around and watch again for the Beaver Cemetery road sign-  this time on your right. Turn right onto the gravel lane by the sign, and then bear right into Ridgeview Farm. QUESTIONS OR LOST?  Call Nancy’s cell phone at 937-365-0101.

Nancy Stranahan making a restoration planting of swamp milkweed at the Sanctuary’s Taloden Pond. The plants were raised from hand-collected seed. 

Henslow Sparrow with babies, Photo by John Watts
Hiking the Glen at Ridgeview Farm by Artemis Eyster