Sited on a piece of land just beyond the back edge of a cornfield is the Volgenau Cottage. Its gray cedar-shingled siding and sprawling, asymmetrical design let us know we are on Virginia's Eastern Shore.
At first glance, you might assume the cottage is a typical 1890s farmhouse commonly found in nearby Nassawadox. However the style was merely the inspiration for the home, built in 1997. A few years earlier, the Virginia Coast Reserve, a program of The Nature Conservancy, teamed up with The Volgenau Foundation, a family-run, private-operating organization, to build a model home on Phillips Creek Farm. The farm was a prototype for compatible economic development. "We wanted to preserve the natural resources and their ability to function productively," says Michael Lipford, Virginia director of The Nature Conservancy. Phillips Creek Farm is only one of several farms in the Reserve's Seaside Farm Program, created to ensure protection of coastal bays and marshes.
The Reserve uses the cottage to house and educate its guests who are curious about the program, namely leaders from across the country interested in conservation. "Our goal was to create a model of residential development so that it could be replicated elsewhere," says Lynn Badger, associate director of the Reserve.