Ross Farm Museum reaps $100,000 to boost trail development, outdoor learning areas


The Ross Farm Museum plans to expand and improve its trails and outdoor learning spaces with a $100,000 subsidy from the Municipality of Chester.

The provincially-operated agricultural museum in Lunenburg County was awarded the six-figure sum after Peter Cullen, the site's executive director, addressed civic politicians in recent weeks about the museum's application for a major grant.

Cullen explained many of the details of the planned development in a written report to council, as well.

"The project is articulated into three major components that integrate the existing north-south lakeside nature trail with new interpretive tools and stations," Cullen wrote.

The work is divided into three steps, with the initial phase being the construction of a new trail loop on the north end of an existing trail leading to a new outdoor learning space.

"This space will be a round platform adorned by large ash hoops indicating the interaction humans have with the natural world and the shared skills that Mi'Kmaw and European societies have applied to Nova Scotia's forests," Cullen told council. He noted the location "will be developed to allow workshops, presentations, musical and artistic events to take place for up to 20 participants at a time."

There also will be interpretive signage outlining flora, fauna and human impact on woodlands and wetlands. Trail users can rest, read or enjoy the view of the marsh and lake area when the space is not being used. The spot also will be made available to community groups.

Cullen said that the second step involves upgrading an existing lakeside nature trail and adding more culverts and gravel, along with more bench and rest areas. It will allow more space for walkers and cyclists so one can overtake the other on the trail without conflict.

"This part of the overall project will include the fabrication and installation of stone numerical markers indicating primary and interesting plants to facilitate visitor attention and engagement with the natural surroundings," Cullen added.

"The stone number markers will complement in-person workshops and signage posted at the learning space on the north end of the trail, and explanatory signage posted at the south end of the trail." A bike stand, a walk-through fence and interpretive trail usage signage will also be added.

Ross Farm also plans to extend a footpath into the section of woods circumnavigated by the existing wagon path, directly across from the southern entrance to the lakeside trail. The centre of this woodland will be cleared to a radius of nine metres, and a wigwam interpretive site will be constructed within the area. The spot "will host Mi'Kmaw interpreters depicting and teaching about life, skills and culture among ... Mi'Kmaw populations and how they used the territory," Cullen explained in the report.

"Ideally, this interpretation will develop into a permanent and regular part of the museum's interpretation and programming. The choice of the wigwam is to challenge visitors to engage with the Mi'Kmaw past, but also to obviate the ways of life and interconnectedness of the contemporaneous Mi'Kmaw and European populations living in the New Ross area from 1816 onward."

Initial site clearing and trail work was to begin by April. Platform space and the wigwam are expected to be installed in June and July.

Cullen said the major work should finish in August.

The project is part of the museum's ongoing three-year strategic plan to build diversity into the site's programs, and build community engagement.

Ross Farm has been providing services and educating visitors for over 50 years. More about the museum can be found at https://rossfarm.novascotia.ca on the internet.

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