The meadows and woodlands of Duke Farms, as with most natural areas in the region, were once almost entirely forest and floodplain meadows. With the agricultural economy of the past three centuries, the landscape was greatly changed and reconfigured. The early 20th century development of a gentleman’s country estate brought further changes to the property.
With a new mission at Duke Farms, the lawns and horticultural features in the Park are being restored to functioning habitats reflecting the native plant communities of the Central Piedmont Plains region. While the woodlots, hedgerows, lakes, buildings, gardens and roads continue to be an important presence in the landscape, the restoration of healthy, ecologically functioning systems, and the ability to educate and inspire visitors on the process of stewardship and developing a conservation ethic are essential aspects in the transformation of Duke Farms.