Blake Caldwell: 2011 Environmental Stewardship Award Winner

Blake Caldwell, a conservationist and naturalist, has always had an interest and concern for the environment. In recent years and in myriad ways, she has focused her considerable talents and efforts to the benefit of our community – on the Association’s Public Works Committee, as a coastal monitor testing the water at Landings Harbor monthly under the aegis of UGA Marine Extension and most recently heading both the Development Committee and Governance Committees of Skidaway Farms. She will be honored this year with a Skidaway Audubon Environmental Stewardship Award.

Born on a working farm in Kentucky to a family rich in the traditions of farm life, she learned at an early age to appreciate nature and the land. Her grandfather raised cattle and sheep, and her father was both a doctor and a farmer who cultivated a vegetable garden and an orchard. Following somewhat in her father’s professional path, Blake became a doctor and trained as a pediatrician. However she opted to specialize in epidemiology and taught tropical epidemiology to Navy physicians in Panama for several years. Her professional career mirrors the diversity of her personal interests. In 1989, she joined the Centers for Disease Control, initially as a researcher, moving later into policy and management. She retired in 2001.

Immersing herself in life at The Landings, Blake became involved with the Public Works Committee and contributed to the development of the nature trail on the island. She became a master gardener of Chatham County and began cultivating her own garden. But her profession beckoned and Blake returned to Atlanta to work at CDC for another 5 years.

Now, retired for the second time, she insists this time is for real, “I am having too much fun”.

But “retirement” is merely a word for a woman as energetic and active as Blake. She has devoted her time and talents to the opening of Skidaway Farms. The Farm, a 5-year project from inception to reality, opened on February 12th. Modeled on the Hampton Island Community Garden, it is on the site of a former sod farm of The Landings Club, located off McWhorter Road. Approximately 2 fenced acres are divided into 200 plots devoted to individual farming. It is an artistic work to behold, with residents of the island farming their plots with a variety of fruits, vegetables, flowers, artisan creations and walking paths. There is an organic section for the pure of heart and a beekeeper section soon to be developed.

Skidaway Audubon is a founding partner of the farm, having contributed start up funds, as well as steering the development over the past 5 years. Donations from individuals and from Landings’ organizations, as well as contributions in expertise and manpower from The Landings Association and Valley Crest, have been critical to the startup. Blake is quick to give credit to any number of people, but a successful startup needs a leader who can supply energy, teamwork, management and countless hours.

This she has done, in addition to maintaining a home in Atlanta, where her husband, is a practicing physician. True to form, Blake has cultivated a flower and vegetable garden there, right in the heart of the city, and is also active with the Atlanta Botanical Garden.

Blake Caldwell, dog lover (right, at Skidaway Farms with Atticus), birder and nature enthusiast takes advantage of every opportunity to make a difference, share her passions and contribute her knowledge to enrich and improve her life and that of others. We at The Landings are fortunate to have her as our neighbor.

The Environmental Stewardship award presentation takes place following the 12th annual Skidaway Audubon Golf Tournament on May 9.

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