Summer 2016

Letter from the Director

It's been a beautiful summer at the farm! We are on track to have a record number of visitors with a steady stream of day cares and summer day camps, as well as many families dropping in to spend time with the animals, hike in the woods, and sample all the fresh vegetables we have growing in the garden.

Learning Tree Farm is on track to set a record number of visitors to the farm this year.

Our Saturday Family Fun series continues to be a very popular event. In June, the Fireflies night was a huge success; over 200 people came out for an evening at the farm to cook s'mores, watch the farmer put up the freshly cut hay into our barn, and of course to watch the fireflies light up the sky at dusk. We have a Saturday family event once a month so be sure to check out the calendar on our website or on Facebook for more details.

We have also made it easier than ever for families visiting on the weekends. From 10:00am to 2:00pm every Saturday, we have an Education Staff member on site to show new visitors and regulars what's new at the farm. They are there to help you visit with the animals, show you the way to the wooded trails, and answer any questions you may have. Cost for dropping in is still only $3 per person, $10 for a family of 4 or more. Bring a picnic lunch and enjoy a day at the farm!

Loralynn Hickey, Director of Farm Operations

The Power of Mother Nature

MVCDC at the Farm

Through our successful CultureWorks Power2Give campaign earlier this year, we were able to continue our partnership with the Miami Valley Child Development Centers (MVCDC) in introducing Blairwood Elementary students to the power of nature. For three months, students came every Friday to hike, interact with farm animals, taste fresh produce and just experience being outside in abundant safe green spaces. The progress students made over the course of the program was evident: children were more focused, more comfortable in the natural environment, showed respect for other forms of life, and were more confident and outgoing.

Blairwood Elementary MVCDC students get some hands on educational experience in Learning Tree Farm's natural environment because of the generous donors of our CultureWorks Power2Give campaign. Click on images to enlarge.
Thank You

All of this was possible through our generous supporters. Learning Tree Farm and MVCDC would like to thank the following donors:

Beth Englehardt, Ed & Karen Florkey, Terry Meehan, Gail Raucci,

Leigh Ann & Joseph Fulford, Dona Vella, Elaine Bonner, Jean Ryan

Acorn Financial Services - The Bledsoes, Sally Keyes and Robert Obach, in honor of the wedding of Christy Keyes & Steve Allgood, Marines Lopes, David Ryan

Mike & Pauline Hennessey, in memory of David & Anna Marie Long

Julie Dannemiller, Amy Lopez-Matthews, Tamara Meier, Linda Schaefer, Sheila Shelto, Bob Ryan, Barbara Ryan, in memory of Pat & Mike Ryan

Five anonymous donors.

And especially DP&L Foundation for matching $0.50 for every dollar donated.

This successful program has real momentum! In addition to our own findings, several peer reviewed studies* have shown that children are healthier, more alert, have improved behavior, are more informed about the natural world and make better connections to the academic world when they spend more time outdoors. Children who participate in regular outdoor activities are better at self-regulating their own behavior, accessing risks both physically and socially, and are more likely to participate in environmentally friendly behavior. Using this data and last year's program as a catalyst, the MVCDC classroom teachers and farm staff are eager to continue this program into the 2016-2017 school year.

We need YOUR help. Your donation will help these 48 low-income students from the Dayton Community continue to learn and grow in Learning Tree Farm's beautiful environment. If you would like to donate, please send a check made to Learning Tree Farm with "MVCDC 2016-2017" in the memo line. Any amount is appreciated and will help us meet our goal for the entire school year of $5,500. For more information or to donate via Paypal email Education Director, Meredith Florkey, at

New Additions

Nature Preschool's Mud Kitchen

The Nature Preschool at Learning Tree Farm will host 30 preschoolers each day this fall as they explore their world through the hands on activities in the outdoor classroom, farm, fields, forests and indoor classrooms. Seventy-five percent of the children's time will be spent outdoors for lessons and free play.

The most exciting addition to our preschool building is this amazing mud kitchen, which now graces our outdoor classroom. Recently designed and built by the team at Remodeling Designs of Centerville, our students will now get to exercise their imagination and transform the "pantry" of natural surroundings into a "gourmet meal" on the new custom built mud kitchen.

Summer Camp kids make "chocolate mint muffins" in the new outdoor mud kitchen donated by Remodeling Designs. Click on images to enlarge.

This kitchen will allow children to enhance their learning through dramatic play. The inviting design allows several children to work and negotiate social skills as well as fine motor development and math and science concepts. Using soil that they dig themselves, water collected in our rain barrels, twigs, pebbles, sand, and flowers there will surely be some excellent mud pies for all!

We are so thankful for owner Erich Egger's generosity and the skills of his project manager, Chad Snow, to make this amazing piece of equipment a reality for the children who will call this special environment "school".

Thank You

To find out more about Nature Preschool, please contact Education Director, Meredith Florkey, at or 937-847-9004. We are open for tours by appointment this summer on Wednesday mornings. We are also beginning to form an interest list for the 2017-2018 school year.


Thanks to DP&L Foundation, locating and learning at Learning Tree Farm is getting easier! A $5,000 grant was awarded for the improvement of marketing and educational efforts on the property. The installation for two new entrance signs, trail signage and points of interest for the historic structures on the farm is almost complete. Keep an eye out for these information packed signs to learn more about the types of trees and plants on the property, the importance of pollinators, and the uses of the historical structures.

DP&L Foundation's grant provided the farm with new directional and educational signage.
Thank You

Observation Deck

Have you ventured out to the observation deck funded by the Greater Dayton Conservation Fund yet? What can you see that you can't spot from the ground?
Growing for the Commnity

Local Produce

Visit Learning Tree Farm's garden and you can't help but notice that the hands and hearts of our experienced and dedicated staff have helped produce bountiful beds. Our visitors are encouraged to come into the garden and taste test these delicious garden goods, but the curious mouths can't keep up! And since we are all about helping the community, we decided to share the love with some local organizations. Currently, you can find LTF lettuce (and flowers!) at Corner Kitchen, Health Foods Unlimited and all three Dorothy Lane Markets. Boston Stoker is also offering a seasonal drink with LTF mint!

The garden is maintained with the help of our volunteers and visitors. Stop by and pick off some potato bugs!

As the season progresses, we will venture out into selling other produce such as green beans, tomatoes, beets and other herbs. Support your community - shop local!

Ask a Gardener

Garden Manager, Brooke, hung a whiteboard in our gardens to facilitate Q&A's about gardening. Write your "Q" down and her "A" will be posted on our Facebook Page.
Mark Your Calendar

Summer Programs

The Little Red Hen Club

This series of events is geared for preschoolers (ages 3-5) and a caregiver. Each event will include a story, a take-home craft or art project and a snack from the garden. Registration is encouraged via the links below.

Saturday Family Fun Series

These structured Saturdays are geared for your whole family. Each event is unique so be sure to check out each event page for more information.


Save the Date!


September 24, 2016



Saturdays with the Staff

Learning Tree Farm staff will be available to greet you, teach you or guide you while you explore Learning Tree Farm's beautiful environment. Come on out any (or every!) Saturday between 10am and 2pm this summer and get to know some of our staff while you say hi to our animals, taste the garden and hike some trails!

Other News

Behind the Scenes: Matt Peterman

When you come to Learning Tree Farm, most likely you interact with our education staff, our directors, or even the founders. But there is a lot of behind-the-scenes work that is integral to keeping the farm up and running. Matt Peterman is one of those backstage individuals that works hard to keep the farm going and well maintained so that visitors (and resident animals!) safely enjoy their stay.

Matt came to Learning Tree Farm while in high school. He needed a summer job and thought that the organization was a good option to fulfill that need, particularly because he's always enjoyed being outdoors. After high school, he left to obtain a bachelor's degree in fire science and engineering technology at Eastern Kentucky University. Upon graduation, he decided to return to the farm while working towards becoming a full-time firefighter. He came back to Learning Tree as our Farm Maintenance Supervisor because " doesn't feel like I'm going to work, but going out and doing something that I enjoy".

While Matt is responsible for the general upkeep of the farm, including mowing and stacking hay, he is also a talented carpenter and mechanic who is always coming up with creative ways to keep the farm looking and working smoothly and efficiently. He works hard. And he plays hard. If he's not at the farm, you can bet on him enjoying the outdoors: hunting, fishing, kayaking, four wheeling, or really anything without a roof overhead are some of his favorite things to do!

Learning Tree Farm is lucky to have such capable hands and a great, service-oriented heart. Be sure to say hello the next time you see Matt working on the farm.

Learning Tree Farm Wins Best Photography

California based organization, TechSoup, is dedicated to equipping change makers with transformative technology solutions and skills they need to improve lives globally and locally. They held a Storymakers contest to help improve skills in creating compelling narritave that motivates funders, supporters and the media. Contestants could submit a video or a five photo series that told the narrative of their organization.

Learning Tree Farm's marketing coordinator and local professional photographer, Danielle DeWitt Naples, entered five photos that represent all of the amazing things that Learning Tree Farm provides the Dayton community. Out of more than 600 submissions from 35+ countries, Learning Tree Farm won the category of Best Photography.

The photo series can be viewed at the link below:

Ways to Support Learning Tree Farm

Book Fair Foundation

Learning Tree Farm is happy to partner with The Book Fair Foundation, serving as a collection site for donations of gently used books on all subjects for adults and children, movies, CDs, board games, puzzles and records. These items will be collected and sold at the the Book Fair in November. The proceeds from the sales will not only benefit Learning Tree Farm, but the K12Gallery TEJAS and FilmDayton as well.

Our collection bin is located on the back patio of the Century House.

Be sure to bring some items to donate during your next visit!

There are several easy ways to support Learning Tree Farm in your every day life:

  • Kroger Community Rewards - Swipe your Kroger Plus Card at checkout and earn rewards for Learning Tree Farm! It's easy to enroll: 1. Visit 2. Sign in or sign up 3. Select Learning Tree Farm (42971) and click "Enroll".
  • Amazon Smile - Do your online shopping at and Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price to us! Just choose Learning Tree Farm Inc. as your selected charity.
  • Spread the Word - Word of mouth is important. Share events and other Farm related activities with your friends and family on social media and in person.
  • Volunteer - Learning Tree Farm staff is always looking for some helping hands. Contact us today to offer your time and skills.
Thank you for your continued support. We hope to see you soon.

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Danielle Naples
Danielle DeWitt Naples

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