Circle Bar Ranch is a 2800-acre farm site that aspires to become a regional economic engine, a center for youth and adult education as well as a place to experience and enjoy nature. The farm is equidistant between the urban centers of New Orleans, Louisiana, and Jackson, Mississippi. A family-owned property, Circle Bar Ranch is committed to continuing its long legacy of stewardship and innovation. NBW was engaged in the project by Kenneth Schwartz through The Phyllis M. Taylor Center for Social Innovation and Design Thinking at Tulane University. By communicating and collaborating with diverse scientists, ecologists, and social researchers - innovative design concepts have been developed for the vast ranch landscape and its future uses. These stem from in-depth research into the ecological history of longleaf pine savannahs, the legacy of the first peoples of Mississippi, and later, sharecroppers who stewarded the land.
One major project includes re-establishing silvopasture agroforestry through the introduction of Pineywoods Cattle, a heritage breed adapted to the region and brought initially to the Americas by the Spanish in the 1500s. The culminating opportunity is developing a youth camp that aims to bring together New Orleans city kids and rural youth in a shared experience of nature, informed by these site narratives. By including the complex history of the land, Circle Bar Ranch can position itself to become a leader in outdoor education, one that will look to address community and economic challenges of the region, acknowledging the historical roots of modern inequities while seeking to honor the many groups of people who have stewarded the land over centuries.