Working with the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture, NBW was tasked with the creation of a master plan for a Youth Education and 4-H facility at Lone Oaks Farm. Located in Middleton, Tennessee, and encompassing 1,200 acres with a rich mixture of pasture, woodlands, trails, and lakes, Lone Oaks Farm epitomizes West Tennessee’s natural beauty. A working farm with livestock and hay production, the master plan will enable the farm’s continued and sustainable growth, provide for the conservation and restoration of its natural landscape, and create a national model that encourages a deep appreciate for the land, conservation, and agriculture for generations to come.

The master planning process started with thorough research to document and understand the site. Local and regional history from its geologic beginnings, through civil war battles, and up to the agricultural present informed the concepts and strategies for the master plan. Topography and hydrology offered powerful design cues, with myriad streams and lakes, hills and valleys, knolls and ravines to explore and build upon. Finally, a spring BioBlitz inventory of the site’s living systems provided a deep understanding of its ecological wealth and potential, and presented opportunities for continued monitoring. The design recommendations in the master plan are directly correlated to that extensive and ongoing research process.

The overarching framework for the site places the three major program elements of youth education, agriculture, and hospitality in the areas of Lone Oaks Farm that best accommodated them. This programmatic separation - youth education in the eastern hills, hospitality and leisure opportunities to the west, and the working farm and agricultural production in between - allows the three precincts to thrive independently. This separation enhances the unique qualities of each, while still having enough overlap to support the overarching educational mission of Lone Oaks Farm. The master plan proposes the seamless integration of activity spaces into the landscape so that play, learning, and landscape are fused.