Aullwood Audubon Center and Farm is an Audubon Center for sustainable farming practices, environmental education and conservation. The 70 acres of land was gifted by Marie Aull in 1957 to The National Audubon Society. Together, she and the president of the Audubon Society, John Baker, created the first nature center in the Midwest. The Aullwood Audubon Center was built as Marie Aull’s dream of having a place where teachers and learners could come together in hands on education to learn about the nature. The dream was fulfilled as over 25,000 students received 90-minute education tours the first years open.
In 1962, Mrs. Aull purchased the adjacent 120-acre farm in an effort to stop development that would lead to the springs being drained that fed the creek that ran through Aullwood Audubon Center as well as her own personal garden. Mrs. Aull donated part of the farm to the Audubon Society with the vision of the farm turning into a petting zoo of livestock for children and also growing crops as an educational tool. Visitors could participate in guided tours of the farm that focused on education about the American agriculture way of life.
The Aullwood Audubon Center and the farm joined as one entity in 1978 and became what is now known as The Aullwood Audubon Center and Farm. The Friends of Aullwood became the primary responsible party for funding of the facility in 1986 which was then transferred to the Dayton Foundation and managed by Friends of Aullwood.
Aullwood leased 150 acre of airport property in 1995 and created Ohio’s second largest restored tallgrass prairie. Another expansion came in 2000 with the addition of the multimillion-dollar education wing. The addition was dedicated to Marie Aull on her 103rd birthday. Mrs. Aull lived to be 105 years old. The most recent addition included the 2012 creation of Charity A. Krueger Farm Discovery Center. This center put Aullwood on the map as one of the best sustainable farming educational practices in America.
Aullwood Farm is the standard of sustainably sourced agriculture in Ohio and direct market sells the beef, pork and poultry that they raise. Even fresh from the farm eggs are sold seasonally. All the livestock on the farm are antibiotic and steroid free, certified organic, grass fed cows and natural feed chickens. Farmers use local butchers to process the meat from the farm and sell their food directly from the store on the farm.
The crops grown at Aullwood are forage and grass species. The cows free graze on the grass fields and hay, oats, spelt and straw are harvested at Aullwood with no synthetic fertilizer or insecticides being used. Farmers utilize the greatest conservation techniques including rotating the crops and grass fed livestock. A type of farming called ECO is used for maintaining the land.
The Charity A. Krueger Farm Discovery Center is the welcome center for the farm and situated at the front entrance. The large building has several classrooms, offices, farm exhibits, and the Liz Wyse Auditorium that can be rented for private events such as corporate events or weddings. The annual candle dipping workshop, many different agriculture and sustainability workshops and interactive learning experiences are held at the Discovery Center.
The Farm Yard, located behind the Discovery Center, is the home of the Aullwood Apple Fest, and many other fundraising and community events. There is also a large playground, many picnic shelters that are used mostly for school fieldtrips, and vintage tractors that children can play on. The chicken tractor, a chicken coup built inside of a tractor, is often seen at The Farm Yard. The Wyse Pavilion is centrally located in the farm yard and has several look out spots to admire the farm. This pavilion is often privately rented for events.
The Farm Yard also features a chicken coop, The children’s sustainable garden, an herb garden, and heritage turkey pen. The bee yard which features hundreds of bees and butterflies is also located in the farm yard. Honey and Maple syrup from the Sugar Bush are also produced on the farm.
The Bank Barn is a German Heritage barn that was built to resemble the 1800’s style. The foundation of the barn is built from limestone and, upon close inspection, visitors can find fossils sticking out of the stone. The wood is also locally sourced, as are the boulders that help secure the foundation. There are two levels, the top for hay, straw, and grain storage, and the bottom for an array of livestock including horses, pigs, cattle, goats, and turkeys.
The Sheep Barn is the lambing barn in the spring and provides grazing fields right behind for lamb and sheep. The primary use for this barn is for farmers to ensure the health of ewes while they are still with their mothers in the pen.
Spring Houses were used long ago before electricity as a cool storage space for cheese, milk and other dairy products. A wind mill pumps spring water to a creek and wet meadow. Visitors can see many different types of animals at the spring house and creeks including salamanders and fish.
Duck Pond is towards the back of the farm yard and has a very nice observation deck where visitors can watch native wetland animals such as ducks, heron, coyotes, foxes and deer.
The 200-acre nature sanctuary is home to many different plant and animal species that can be explored by visitors through six miles of trails. The sanctuary has wetlands, prairie, woodlands, ponds, and farm land. The sanctuary serves to provide an educational experience for visitors to learn about all the different types of environments in the region.
The Sanctuary was once lush naturally environments, but converted to farm lands in the 1800’s. It has taken almost two hundred years, in some areas of the sanctuary, to reclaim the land and transfer it back to its natural state. There are both old growth and second growth areas and over 20 different habitat exhibits that visitors can learn from along the trails.
Aullwood Marie S. Aull Education Center is comprised of two themed discovery rooms, six classrooms that rotate themes, tons of interactive exhibits, educational games, and animal specimens. Visitors can enjoy presentations by the education staff to learn about and interact with animals like snakes and birds. Classrooms are used for school field trips but the remainder of the nature center is freely explored by visitors.
There is an outdoor bird feeding and water station. Visitors can watch the birds gather from the Bird Watching Room where they is a built in vocalization system so that visitors can hear the birds sing. The gift shop and a quiet reflection room are also inside the Education Center.
The Nature Center Auditorium and Hall of Wonders are two parts of the Nature Center that are used for events and fundraisers. Art shows and special exhibits are also hosted in these buildings frequently throughout the year.
The Aullwood Audubon Center and Farm is dedicated to education and offers several programs and evens throughout the year to further their mission of sustainable agriculture and conservation. There are 25 different programs for school and youth including presentations on birds of prey, art in music, an adventures school program, candle and syrup making, geology and farming.
There are also scouting and 4-H programs as well as overnights. These educational opportunities can be tailored to the group’s specific goals or itinerary with costs varying by customization. Homeschooling programs and ecotours are also frequently featured at the farm and there are special adventures dependent on the season.
Preschools, teacher workshops, birthday parties, and other special events are welcome to be held at Aullwood Audubon Center and Farm.
Glow at Night is a special event at the farm where luminescent art exhibits are displayed and there is plenty of fire based entertainment to enjoy. Visitors can even tour an enchanted forest and make several different glow in the dark crafts. Live music is provided and food trucks are present for purchasing dinner. Night hikes are offered with naturalist guides.
One Stop Holiday Shop is the annual holiday shopping bizarre that the Audubon Center and Farm puts on every year. Vendors, artists, crafters, collectors and hobbyist set up shop on the far and the nature center grounds to sell handmade wares just in time for the Holiday season. There are also several art exhibits that are installed for this weekend only.
Aullwood Audubon Nature Center and Farm is open year around but closed on school holidays. Parking is free at both the farm and nature center. If driving, the distance between both attractions is about five minutes; however, the nature sanctuary trails lead to the farm and most visitors enjoy walking between places to be able to enjoy the entire experience of Aullwood Audubon Nature Center and Farm. The entire facility is nonsmoking and strictly enforced.
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1000 Aullwood Rd, Dayton, OH 45414, Phone: 937-890-7360