Writer / Heather Chastain
Just 25 minutes outside of downtown Louisville, you’ll find a 300-acre, hidden gem nestled in the middle of the hustle and bustle of city life. Blackacre Conservancy is filled with rolling fields, forests and streams that surround the historic homestead, which lies at the heart of the Blackacre Nature Preserve.
The preserve’s history integrates education, agriculture, nature and historic preservation with visitor programs, a few private residences, a neighborhood garden and community activities.
“We want to be part of raising responsible people to conserve, preserve and protect the environment,” says Executive Director Dale Josey. “We want to give people an appreciation for nature.”
Blackacre provides opportunities for visitors to explore the property through school field trips, summer camps, workshops, lectures, concerts and many other programs allow visitors to learn in this place of natural and historic beauty.
You can walk the trails, learn about trees and leaves or go on a self-guided tour of the log barn built in the 1700s.
“You can still see the marks on the logs where the pioneers cut the wood,” Josey says.
You can also see the Presley Tyler Farmhouse, a two-story house that was originally built for $250 in 1844. It still has its original floors and massive fireplaces for open-floor fires. The spring house was built from limestone and has a split shale roof.
“We always want to go the extra mile to preserve and protect our property,” Josey says. “We want to leave it better than we found it for the future generations to use.”
Josey said Blackacre’s community garden program has proved to be a melting pot of different cultures in Jefferson County.
“We have Europeans, Somalians, Hmong, Chinese, Japanese and Korean cultures all participating in our community garden,” he says. “It’s a great opportunity for everyone to see all of the crops from the different cultures.”
The community garden program allows people to buy a 30×30 plot for $30 a year to grow their own vegetables. This year, they are also beginning a garden in a box program which will allow people to rent a row in a garden for a reduced price.
“We get so many people who are overwhelmed by the size of the larger plot or have never gardened before and want to try it out,” Josey says. “The garden in a box is a great way to get their toes wet.”
They also have a community garden manager who can help assist you if you’re new to gardening about when to plant, how to care for them and when to harvest. Josey said they get a lot of returning gardeners every year and have a lot of young families.
“It’s really wonderful to see the young families out there together. In fact, once we saw a young mother out with her children showing them how to plant seeds,” he says. “And one of her little guy’s – probably around age 3 – was following behind digging up all the seeds,” Josey chuckled. “it’s cool to see families out doing a garden together.”
Fun for Kids
Other ways young children can get involved at Blackacre is to participate in their Wee Explorers camp. Geared toward children ages 5-8, this year’s program is called Pioneers Then and Now.
“Kids are enamored with electronics, but this gives them a chance to be out in the woods for a week,” Josey says. “We give them a full textile experience. We also have arts and crafts. It really gives kids a chance to appreciate life on the farm.”
Camp sign up will begin mid-June.
On the historic homestead farm, they have cows, goats and horses for people to feed throughout the year, too.
“We want kids to be able to understand more about farm to table,” Josey says. “Kids don’t always know where beef comes from. We’ll ask them ‘would you eat a cow?’ and they’ll respond ‘no! that’s gross!’ But then we ask them if they eat at McDonalds and they always say yes. It’s just about educating them.”
Get Married at Blackacre
The historic beauty has made Blackacre a popular location for weddings. Josey said last year they booked more than two dozen weddings and special events. If you’re interested in booking your wedding, they suggest booking early as many popular 2017 dates have already been taken.
To learn more about Blackacre Conservancy go to blackacreconservancy.org.