Martin Van Buren National Historic Site

Can you believe that last week we have started our FINAL project for the summer? … I can’t either! Where has the summer gone? In the mist of realizing that my internship is almost coming to an end, our team has collaborated with Alex von Bieberstein (Historical Landscape Architect) to assist her with the Martin Van Buren National Historic Site (MAVA) project. The site is located in Kinderhook, New York and was purchased by Martin Van Buren after his presidency. In 1961, the site was established as a National Historic Landmark Designation and in 1971 it officially became a National Historic Site. Currently, the site is comprised of a variety of parcels 1. Federal Land, 2. Private Land, 3. and Parcels with easements. Within these parcels, the land is primarily farmed by Roxbury Farm, which is an organization that implements sustainable farming, such as organic and biodynamic practices.


Roxbury Farm Infrastructure currently on MAVA site

After an overview and presentation of the site and the project, Alex assigned us with the task of dividing and conquering 25 different Farm Features and Best Practices for the Agricultural Management Guidelines. I immediately dove into the Infrastructure (buildings, structures, processing and staging areas), farm equipment/storage, utilities, orchards, weed management /mulching and circulation systems for MAVA. During this task I learned about logistics, policies, current and preferred practices, programmatic opportunities, objectives (from NPS and Roxbury Farm), and detailed information like location/proximity, materials, and so on about each Feature or Practice. To get a better understanding of these guidelines, Alex and Margie (my supervisor/project manager) took us on an agriculture excursion to

  1. Pete Lowie and Jens Backyard Birds

  1. Minute Man National Historical Park

  1. Meriam’s Corner to Hartwell Tavern Area

  1. Drumlin Farm Community Supported Agriculture which all served as case study sites for the project. Because we were not able to go visit MAVA this summer, these sites work perfectly for us to study and learn from. We got the opportunity to ask the farm staff several questions about the agricultural guidelines on their sites and actually got to do some hands on work (weed removal) in the field. This experience gave us a new perspective on our research and gave us some answers that articles and publications couldn’t provide for us. Like I always say, learning from something first hand is always the best way to learn!


My first time pulling weeds !!!


Learning about weeding first hand! No pun intended.


OCLP hard at work at Drumlin Farm


Our team showcasing our weeds !

Regarding my focus topics, I learned that a lot of these farmers prefer to use movable infrastructure and storage for convenience, travel, multi-purpose reasons, and to reduce compaction on soil. A lot of their infrastructure/storage is found on site, unless they are partnering with other organizations or do not need the storage in the infrastructure to be used or attended at all times. The farthest proximity for an offsite location averages to 3 miles. In terms of utilities, the farms opposed to using many generators, pumps or mechanical systems on site. They prefer simple and basic utilities that either run on PV panels or batteries for electricity. They also use gravity to distribute water and they recycle/compost solid waste instead of disposing it. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure!

Movable Infrastructure: Everything is better on wheels !!!!!!


Permanent Infrastructure: Green Houses


Movable Infrastructure: Tents / Pavilions


Movable Infrastructure (Interior): Tailors

Conveniently, during one of our stops I ran into another Hispanic Access Intern at Minute Man. WHAT A SMALL WORLD. We got the opportunity to learn about what Karla Morales is doing this summer and she gave us some great information about the park history. Thanks Karla, it was so nice to finally meet another intern from HAF!!!!

DTP and Karla Morales (HAF intern) at Minute Man.

Overall, our field day was amazing. I learned and tried new things and met some really nice people. Thanks to everyone who contributed to this experience, I really appreciate it. This week our team is continuing to work on MAVA and furthering our development for the Agricultural Management Guidelines, with some more research, excursions, and presentations. We kicked off Monday morning by visiting the Pressley Associates Landscape Architects with Chris Beagan (Historical Landscape Architect) to meet with Marion Pressley FASLA, one of the firm’s principals. Marion serves as a true inspiration because she is a woman who started out in the field when it was primarily dominated by men. Although women in the design field are becoming more common, there are definitely still obstacles that we have to face to be taken seriously and to be seen as a force to be reckoned with! As a female trying to get into the world of architecture myself, I consider Marion’s journey as a phenomenal one and I hope to achieve a similar level of success as she has someday.

Urban & Waterfront Landscapes: 245 Summer Street


Urban & Waterfront Landscapes: 245 Summer Street


Urban & Waterfront Landscapes: Point State Park


Urban & Waterfront Landscapes: Point State Park

Overall, the firm works towards designing landscapes that embrace, protect, and enhance the environment—to promote sustainability, enable community involvement, and influence stewardship. Pressley Associates has completed several Boston area landmark projects, including designs for Faneuil Hall Marketplace, Kenmore Square, Harvard Square, restoration of the Emerald Necklace Park System and Northeastern’s campus. Specifically, Marion’s historic preservation work includes several National Park Service projects such as the carriage road system at Acadia National Park, Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site, New Bedford Whaling National Historic Park, and the Independence National Historic Park. Aside from the great presentations that were prepared for our group, the one thing that I took away the most from this visit was the series of life lesson quotes that Marion shared with us throughout our conversations, some being: “Always educate yourself” “Gain experience in something your weakest in” “The best way to learn something is to teach it” “Don’t rush, take the time to learn what it is you actually want to do with your life”

DSC_0746 OCLP Team at Pressley Associates Office

Thanks Marion for the much needed advice about life, school, and careers, sharing your story, allowing us to see what’s going on at Pressley Associates, and most importantly taking the time out of your busy schedule to accommodate us into your day. It was a pleasure. I have provided a link to the Pressley Associates website below if anyone is interested in learning more about their firm and what they do! This Monday, I also attended my last Hispanic Access Foundation (HAF) webinar, which was hosted by two guest: Desiree Smith, the coordinator for the Latinos in Heritage Conservation Group and Alex Romero, the superintendent of the George Washington Parkway Memorial in DC. They each spoke about their stories and experiences within their work / organizations and provided us with the opportunity to ask them questions regarding historical and heritage conservation and how to reach a targeted audience in a location with many non-Latino cultural resources. This session served as a great closing webinar to wrap up our internship experience and to think about what our next steps in Latino conservation stewardship could be. Thanks Desiree and Alex! Both experiences with Marion and HAF put in perspective that although I am considered a “minority” because I am a woman and a Latina, I can surpass adversities and I am proud that I have the opportunity this summer to showcase that we can do whatever we put our minds to and we are not alone, especially in the world of design and the NPS. Minorities can and are making a difference in the world and I hope to inspire others to do the same! #LatinoEmpowerment #WomenEmpowerment

OCLP and Branching Out Park Based Interns


Discussions with the team!


Presenting my project work

To wrap up the week, we meet the Branching Out Park Based Team to hear about what they are doing this summer and how their positions differ from the Field Based Team that we have met a few weeks ago. This team of 4 is split up in several sites (Fairsted, Minute Man, Adams, and JFK’s Birthplace) where they are working on individual projects that range in topics such as invasive species, plant health care, and preserving historical elements on site. What was great about hearing from this team was being able to ask for recommendations (from their internship experience), that will help us move forward in our MAVA project. Thanks Branching Out for a great discussion! Until Next Week…my last week 🙁

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