On June 8th, CTNC’s Land Protection Director, Rusty Painter, took four interns to meet landowner Carolyn Toben on her property in Guilford County, Timberlake Farm.

The purpose of the visit was to conduct annual monitoring of the 165-acre property that CTNC has protected since 2001. It was an opportunity for the interns to learn about monitoring the land, as well as meet the landowner, who is known for her love of meeting young, conservation-minded people.

The group shared lunch on the porch of the “tree house,” a three-story, rustic building that hosts events from children’s programs to weddings. As they chatted over iced tea, Toben listened to each of the interns’ personal stories and asked questions about how they viewed the environment. She then explained some of the philosophy surrounding the farm, which was deeply influenced by cultural historian and eco-theologian Thomas Berry, who had visited the land on many occasions.

“The goal is to help people make a personal connection with the earth,” Toben said. She emphasized the importance of being mindful and taking time to experience nature immersively. Her hope is that being on the property can give people an opportunity to do this. “The trails are to help people take a different look at life.”

The interns (Esteban Arenas, Ben Agsten, Reilly Henson, and Auston Smith – all Duke University graduate students) then walked the property and learned about monitoring procedure, which involves comparing the current state of the land to detailed notes from past visits, to determine if anything has changed. The group toured the garden, wooded trails, and various wedding venues on the farm. CTNC monitors all its properties in this way, to ensure that they remain in their natural states, protecting them from unnecessary development and preserving them according to the landowners’ wishes.

Visit www.timberlakeearthsanctuary.com to find out more about the farm and its programs.