September 3, 2020| By Kellie Adkins
Q&A: Salomon Farm Park with Kellie Adkins, Manager of Outdoor Recreation
What goes into taking care of the animals after hours at Salomon?
Salomon Farm Park relies on more than 20 volunteers just to care for our animals! Our staff and volunteers strive to keep areas clean and safe, while also providing enriching treats, activities, and LOTS of attention to keep our animals happy and healthy. We allow families to volunteer with their children because we believe folks of all ages can make great impacts on their community by donating their time and hard work! Salomon is home to donkeys, a mini horse, goats, sheep, pigs, chickens, ducks, turtles, and rabbits.
How does gardening differ on a farm from residential gardening?
Our gardens are all tended by our volunteer gardeners. Each gardener brings their own unique experiences and knowledge to the table, from beginner gardeners to long-time master gardeners. This brings a very eclectic and beautiful aspect to our gardens. Practices we use could very easily be implemented at your home! When you stroll through our gardens you will notice a diverse way of growing including classic beds in the ground, raised beds, and container gardening.
Why should I visit Salomon Farm?
Five generations of the Salomon Family lived on this Indiana farm until donating the property to the City to become a public park, yet preserving the farm heritage for the community to enjoy. Salomon Farm Park is a great way to connect to history, agriculture, and nature. Visitors can enjoy learning rich Hoosier Heritage, pick up some unique gardening ideas, take a relaxing stroll in a sunflower field, tickle a pig’s nose, or take a step off the Salomon Loop paved trail on to one of our rugged hiking trails. With 170 acres to explore there is plenty of opportunity to enjoy the park.
What goes on behind the scenes at Salomon Farm?
Salomon has a lot of moving pieces. We are grateful for more than 100 volunteers that support farm staff to keep the park running. These volunteers come from the TriState Antique Tractor Club, Flax and Fleecers Spinning Guild, our blacksmiths, our gardener volunteers, our animal care volunteers, and various other service projects. The garden volunteers begin their season around March/April and don’t stop until they turn over all the garden beds in late fall! They take on the planning, planting, and tending of all our produce gardens. Our animal care volunteers keep our animals happy and healthy; we have two shifts per day and more than 20 people all giving our animals TLC. The animal care volunteers stick with us all year round and even brave frozen locks and frigid temps during the winter months! The Tractor Club tends more than 20 acres of cropland and they do it by getting supplies like seed and fertilizer donated to the farm! The Tractor Club uses mostly antique equipment to tend the fields. The Tractor Club is also the presenting sponsor for our annual Fall Harvest Festival, which wouldn’t be possible without them! The Flax and Fleecers Spinning Guild is the presenting sponsor of our annual Fiber Arts Celebration, and on occasion they help us host fiber arts classes. The blacksmith volunteers support the farm by offering blacksmithing classes and are always at our events providing blacksmith demonstrations.
In addition to a small army of volunteers, we also have a long list of partners that we work with to provide low-cost or free programming. These partners support efforts such as the Fiber Arts Celebration, Farmin’ Fun Day Camp, Concert on the Farm, Fall Harvest Festival, Wild Game Tasting, Christmas on the Farm, animal operations, crop/flower field operations, and our scheduled programming. With the addition of the Teaching Kitchen we are now able to provide a diverse lineup of cooking programs for all ages! From the day Chris Salomon and his daughter Maxine Salomon donated Salomon Farm Park to Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation, it has truly been a place that was made for the community, by the community.
What don’t most people know about Salomon Farm?
Most people don’t know it exists! There are misconceptions that the Salomon Farm Loop is the “YMCA Trail,” but the trail is owned and maintained by the Parks Dept. The Salomon Farm Loop is the most used trail in Fort Wayne! We hope all those visitors will learn that Salomon Farm Park is a public park and will take a step off the path to enjoy everything Salomon Farm Park has to offer.
Salomon Farm Park is open every day during regular city park hours. More information about events and programs at the park can be found at fortwayneparks.org or on Facebook @SalomonFarmPark.
Kellie Adkins, Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation Manager of Outdoor Recreation.
Kellie has spent over a decade involved in various conservation efforts and research across the nation, landing herself at FWP&R in 2016. Kellie oversees operations at Salomon Farm Park, Johnny Appleseed Campground, Franke Park Day Camp, Farmin’ Fun Day Camp, River Camp, Hurshtown Reservoir, and Lindenwood Nature Preserve.