At GFCA’s monthly TownHall meeting (July 8), the past and future of Turner Farm was discussed. Representatives of civic groups active at Turner Farm presented history and described their groups’ activities and plans. The meeting ended with a high-level discussion of the potential direction of future development at Turner Farm.
The meeting was triggered by Fairfax County Park Authority’s (FCPA) plans to revisit the Master Development Plan for the Farm in order to incorporate the recently acquired Farmhouse and related lots into the Plan. Created in 2000, some updating of non-Farmhouse elements of the Plan may also be undertaken. GFCA has been asked by the FCPA to facilitate community discussion and provide input to FCPA prior to the start of formal Plan revision activities in May 2015. These activities will include more community comment and involvement, starting as early as next summer.
The meeting was a productive exchange of ideas and philosophies for use of the Farm. Beverly Bradford, representing Save the Farm (one of the principal groups responsible for creating the funding and support to establish Turner Farm as a park) presented the history and important developments in the life of Turner Farm. A round table discussion followed the presentation, anchored by John Adams (Georgetown Pike Association), Ginger Nelson Yale (Turner Farm Team), Charles Olin (Analemma Society), Richard Bliss (former Dranesville District FCPA Board Member and founder of Northern VA Conservation Trust), Chris Lehman (Great Falls Lacrosse Association) and Nicole Gnozzio (Riverbend Pony Club). Many members of these and other groups were in attendance and participated in the meeting.
Overall, people agreed that the program was informative and helped foster a better understanding of Turner Farm and its position as a unique resource for our community and for Fairfax County. For example, the Analemma Society’s astronomical education programs touch many adults and children from near and far. The equestrian activities similarly benefit many. A consistent theme from all the presentations and discussion is that Turner Farm currently has a practice of “low intensity, dark at night” activities and that maintaining this practice is central to the Farm’s unique aesthetic. Eric Knudsen, GFCA President, held an informal non-binding straw poll at the conclusion asking: “do you support maintaining Turner Farm’s historic focus on ‘low intensity, dark at night’ uses”? Support for this position was unanimous by a show of hands among the 40-50 people in attendance.