Hodgson Douglas Landscape Architects of Nashville was retained by the MFG board of directors in 2018 to lead the planning effort. The process was possible because of help from a generous grant from the Tucker Foundation.
The project team consisted of Richie Jones, Gretchen Mast and Katherine DeKrey of HDLA, and Charles Adams, Gene Adams, Linda Collins, Joe Davis, Sallie Ford, Andy Jones, Anne Leonard, Larson Mick, Mickey Robbins, Susan Snow and myself of MFG.
A critical element of the development process was defining a set of goals and guiding principles derived from the values, priorities, and objectives of the MFG board. Preservation, maintenance, education, recreation and sense of community arose as key guiding values for all decisions concerning the property. The aim was a written plan to balance the need for increasing event revenue with preserving and restoring the site’s history.
Five years of experience with hosting large and small crowds helped identify property capacity and use limits. Events and programmed activities are critical to the long-term success of MFG. Ongoing improvements to the property, event management, and marketing will increase usage. Continued growth and use will bring additional strains of revenue. Maintenance, parking, signage, circulation and building spaces are all considerations that must be addressed as use increases.
One of the primary goals of the master plan is to determine the optimal property capacity and develop strategies for successfully accommodating growth. Photos of existing features with maps and descriptions of their current uses show what pieces of the puzzle are available now and guide how these pieces can be supplemented or improved.
While continuing to work with HDLA on the plan, the board began to make improvements as projects were identified. Among those are: adding weather shields and HVAC to the pavilion; improving electric and water service to the pavilion; adding in-ground irrigation systems for the gardens; increasing parking capacity; refurbishing and expanding the Anderson Pike and Taft Highway entrances; repairing the cut-stone wall along Anderson Pike; installing efficient internal security gates; and constructing white three-board fences to help direct traffic and improve aesthetics.
The plan identifies other improvements needed. On the board’s priority list are refurbishing the barn and reconstructing the row of farm sheds near the barn and bordering what is defined in the plan as the “Education Lawn.” These sheds were important to the Bachman-McCoy families, and they are needed today for equipment storage. Once reproduced, they will help explain to visitors the part such buildings played in the operation of the working farm.
Among these sheds, Martha McCoy’s dilapidated smokehouse still stands. The smokehouse was, of necessity, small to confine the smoke used to cure and flavor hams. Sally McCoy Garland recalls that a shelf ran along the side wall from the front to the back of the structure. Martha would place hams rubbed with a salt mix on the shelf before wrapping the hams in a paper material and hanging them from the ceiling to cure. She built a fire on the floor so the smoke would rise to smoke the hams. Such stories and the rebuilt structures fulfill one of the goals to preserve the history of MFG and provide educational opportunities.
In addition to suggestions for improving existing features, the plan proposes construction of a large climate controlled space to accommodate crowds that the grounds can accommodate but that present buildings cannot. This need is defined by examples of large gatherings in the past: the MEF fundraiser; the traditional Memorial Day picnic; and big events where tents have had to be erected in case of inclement weather.
This is just one of the exciting ideas outlined in the MFG master plan. McCoy Farm and Gardens board of directors is committed to continuing improvements with the aid of our community. We hope you will enjoy seeing our plan and helping to implement the results. For more information, please visit www.mccoywalden.org.
by Karen Stone