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Let’s Go to the Park

Ward Farm Recreation and Nature Park

Naturalist Tania Gale led visitors through Calvert County’s soon-to-open Ward Farm Recreation and Nature Park.

Our summer on the cheap took us to a park still being born.
    Ward Farm Park in Dunkirk is not yet open, except for some hikes and camps.
    Naturalist Tania Gale led our group of seven children and seven adults on one of those hikes, pointing out plants and insects and filling us in on the history of the Ward family as well as what changes are coming.
    The 209-acre parcel was purchased in 2013 by Calvert County. Phase one of the master plan includes building ball fields where now there are corn fields.
    Hiking on what had to be the hottest day of the decade was not met with cheers of approval by my little tribe. Yet we soldiered on, knowing that we were getting a peek at the hidden wonders Ward Farm had to offer.
    As with all our summer adventures, we brought plenty of insect repellant and water. As this park is not officially open, the only amenity — other than untamed nature — is a single port-a-potty.
    Despite the heat and the threat of insects, the park-in-progress is rich with wildlife and teaching moments. Finding carrion beetles devouring a recently deceased frog led us to a talk about the importance of scavengers. Spooking a waterfowl from its hidden location led us to consider where birds like to live — in a nest, a box, a cavity?
    Even the plant life has something to say. Pawpaw trees are starting to bear fruit, the largest, edible, indigenous fruit in the U.S., rumored to be a favorite treat of George Washington.
    Yes, we were sweaty within an hour. Our water was quickly depleted, and we were thankful that guide Tania cut our trip short. On any slightly cooler day, we would’ve gladly stayed another hour, tromping through the woods and watching the birds and frogs on the ponds.
    Plans for the park include a nature center, over six miles of trails, a dog park, piers and overlooks and — much to The Hub’s delight — a disc golf course.
    Ward is a park we enjoyed meeting, and to which we will return. This trip only cost us $8, and was free to members of the Calvert Nature Society, with family membership $30 a year.


Watch for announcements from the Calvert Nature ­Society on future activities: www.calvertparks.org and 8 Days a Week in these pages.