Susanna Byrd



At Living Earth School, students learn wilderness survival tips, naturalist skills and how to track animals, among other things. Photo: Courtesy Living Earth School

Summer VILLAGE: Exploring the link between unstructured outside playtime and healthy childhood development

Inside a gigantic twig nest, 5-year-old Colter Vincenti flaps his arms. “Help me find food,” he trills. Colter and his mom, Leora Vincenti, have come for the first time to Wildrock, a new nonprofit nature “playscape” located in northwestern Albemarle County. “It’s pretty simple,” says Vincenti. “Kids are boiling with energy and nature can absorb it.” […]

Chris Saunders hikes Blackrock Summit in Shenandoah National Park. Photo by Natalie Jacobsen

Take a hike: Locals share tales from the trails

Early-morning light catches a tinge of red on the edges of the maple leaves. The air is crisp after a cold fall night in early October. Chris Saunders steps onto the Blackrock Summit Trail with the confidence and speed of someone who has been there before. “I’ve hiked it five or six times,” he says. […]

Community gardens are a place of refuge for all

Community gardens are a place of refuge for all

Tucked alongside Moores Creek in Azalea Park, two wide rows of garden plots form a welcoming and fruitful oasis. Canes of blackberries stand tall, bunches of unripe grapes hang from the vine, tasseling corn peeks over the tops of fences and in the far corner, a grove of banana trees rises in a tropical salute. […]