Why Dots on the Map Matter – Auctioning a Farm Outside “The Dot”
The sun only now is starting to show itself as I sit and wait for my client to arrive at White Marsh Farm. The wind is blowing 20 mph with some significant heavy gusts. A grey morning but a warm wind reminds me this is a day of purpose. After all, any day that brings us out to places like Church Creek or Woolford must have significance.
Yes, these places are dots on a map in Dorchester County but for the families that have made these towns their homes and life endeavors they each remain important enough to maintain their own Post Office. Clearly that must mean something in the scheme of things, especially since these two small dots on the map are only a few miles down the road from one another. This fact reminds me that while we live in a highly connected world today, where within seconds this blog post will reach over 3000 people (note: it is understood my blog has a readership of three, one of whom is my Mother), that not long ago only a few miles divided small rural communities on the Eastern Shore. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries these small towns were the epicenter of the watermen, farmers, and trades people that made up the life and industry of the Eastern Shore.
Today however, it is easy to question why we keep state issued road signs separating Woolford from Church Creek or post offices only a few miles apart. It is not my intention however, to enter a discourse of wasteful government spending. Instead this line of thought leads one away from the concept of super-cities and reinforces that community matters in places like Woolford and Church Creek and they remain relevant even today.
While Woolford remains unincorporated, the metropolis of Church Creek was incorporated in 1867. It is suggested by some historians that Church Creek was first known as Dorchester Town and predated Cambridge as the first settlement in Dorchester County. The town and the creek received their namesake due to the location of Old Trinity Church built between 1686 and 1692. The first major industry in Church Creek was shipbuilding which developed during the mid to late 18th Century. As the forests became depleted in the 19th Century the shipbuilding business declined as did the size of Church Creek. At its height in the early 1900’s the area of Church Creek and Woolford supported nine country stores as the area served a crossroads around the county and its expansive marshlands and forested lands. Still today a general store in Woolford opens early each morning for breakfast and also serves as the location of the Woolford post office.
The Woolford General Store is down the road from the farm being auctioned and I have had the pleasure of enjoying several breakfasts and lunches while working on the project. The General Store works to service local needs as a place to meet and greet as well as capitalize on the fascination of hunters chasing the elusive sika deer popular in this part of Dorchester with their “Marsh Ghost” t-shirts.
On a few occasions, I have walked up on the “Marsh Ghost” as they call the animal and we have shared a moment of stare down. The farm and area surrounding White Marsh Farm is unique because the habitats still support both white tail and sika deer, unlike some areas where the sika are dominant. The changes in land use in this part of Dorchester County have been muted as compared to other parts of the Eastern Shore and therefore the habitat available to wildlife remains largely intact. The federal lands of the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge provide a significant amount of protected land that will serve as a core component to habitat availability for wildlife in perpetuity.
Farming and timber management prevail as the primary land use for the county and the White Marsh Farm is a good example of the type of farm prevalent to Church Creek and Woolford. The 90 acres tillable is balanced out with 120 acres of woodland and the property is improved with nearly 40,000 square feet of outbuildings and a well maintained farm house. The farm is currently being managed for hay but is often in a rotation of corn and soybeans and is unencumbered with any permanent easements restricting or removing its development rights.
White Marsh Farm is just outside “the dot” on the map of Church Creek and Woolford, Maryland but still remains relevant as a working farm in a small rural Eastern Shore community rich in history and sense of place. Call me today to visit White Marsh Farm, the farm auction is scheduled for November 14, 2013.