Mary receives the 2016 Conservation Steward Award from Tom Kay, President of the Alachua Conservation Trust,  at a wonderful dinner with many supporters, volunteers and friends in attendance.

Mary’s speech:

I would like to thank everyone for honoring my late husband Peter and myself with the  2016 Steward of the year award from the Alachua Conservation Trust.

In 1983, we purchased 140 acres of land in Alachua to begin our dream of rescuing elderly abused, neglected, unwanted and overworked horses as well as horses retired from government and military service.

When a horse comes through our gate they are made a few promises. One is that they will never be worked or ridden again and the other is that when they pass away they will be buried in one of our field of dreams and a one gallon live oak tree will be planted in their memory somewhere on the farm.

These oaks trees will provide a future habitat for wildlife and the birds. To date 358 horses are buried in our field of dreams and an equal number of oak trees have been planted in their memory.

Over the years we purchased additional land which now totals 335 acres of pastures, wetlands and woods.

When we first moved here it took me 3 years to get birds to come on the property as it was originally used for hunting and sport.

I am proud to say that now we have such a diverse selection of birds that the Audubon Society comes out each year to do their yearly bird count.

In 2006, we donated land to Alachua Conversation Trust to create a conservation easement around the entire property to ensure that our mission would continue without the worry that the property would be developed.

We not only did this to protect our beautiful equine retirees but to protect the wildlife, trees and birds that call Mill Creek Farm home.

My husband Peter passed away 2 years ago this coming Friday. Within minutes of hearing of his fathers passing my son Paul drove up from Ft. Lauderdale and has never left. He has worked on projects that Peter and I have always wanted to do but never had the time for, such as creating additional pastures for future horses, building an additional feed and tack room, starting a monthly Mill Creek Farm Gazette that we send out each month by email and having a Biography outside each horses pasture so that people can learn about their history.

With the help of our incredible group of volunteers and the people that support our mission we will continue to provide a safe and forever home for these and future horses.

I invite all of you to come out and visit the Retirement Home for Horses at Mill Creek Farm during our Open House each Saturday from 11-3. The public is welcome to come and enjoy our beautiful farm and meet our 134 horses, 2 donkeys and one mule that call mill creek farm their home.

Admission is 2 carrots, but I recommend you bring a lot more.

Thank all of you for coming and thank you for this prestigious award.

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