The Blum Family
Three generations of vision for restoration and preservation.
“I know how much they valued it.” Preserving Joshua’s Meadows was an obvious choice for Annette Blum. The historic farmhouse perched on 26.785 rolling acres in Bel Air has been a part of Blum’s family for three generations. Blum’s grandfather, Brodnax Cameron, Sr., passed the scenic property and original crumbling farmhouse every day in the 1930s while commuting from Baltimore to Bel Air on the Ma and Pa train line. “He called it a ruin,” Annette remembered, but the daily views of the property stuck with Brodnax and in the early years of the Depression, Blum’s grandparents, Brodnax and Julia Cameron, purchased the property for $5,000 and set about renovating the home for their family.
“My grandparents bought the property and built an addition with a modern kitchen, as well as renovating the rest of the building,” Annette recalled. A large farmhouse was originally built on the property in the mid 1700’s and footprints of housing for enslaved people, a cider mill, pump house, dairy, and chicken house can also be found on the property. By the time the property was purchased, the original structures were in disrepair and the land was overgrown.
“I grew up knowing how much work my grandparents put into the property,” Annette said, “They planted a victory garden, and began to farm. They had sheep and chickens. Later, after a problem with dogs, they got rid of the sheep and boarded cows and had a farmer plant the field.”
“One thing that my grandfather did was to apply his ideas of 18th century architecture and mathematics to the land around the house, as well as inside. He designed the area of the backyard, the former garden, and the terraced area in front to include golden rectangles, a semi-circle flanked by two rectangular sections like a Palladian window, and an “allée” from the front door to the end of the garden. He terraced an area to level off some of the yard but also act as a fence–called a “ha-ha” because it gave the illusion of continuity to land in the distance. I figured all this out years after I inherited it, when having a new fence designed. What gave the house and grounds an orderly simplicity was the mathematical way he situated it in a way that was hidden and not obvious.”
“I believe that land is more valuable than just a spot onto which to build a building,” Annette said, “And that preservation is a means to preserve that value.”
Annette has a strong connection to the property having spent much of her childhood exploring the landscape.
“There is a conical hill known in the family as “Little Round Top” which is fun to climb and has a great view. As a child I would sleep out on Little Round top with friends in the summer, and lie in sleeping bags looking at stars.”
Chasing frogs, sledding steep, snowy hills, observing a family of foxes, and looking for spring wildflowers are just a few of the experiences on the land Annette seeks to preserve for future generations.
Land preservation “allows breathing space,” Annette reflected, “It is good for wildlife. It reminds us that land has value for its own sake.”
Our Work Depends on You
Harford Land Trust can save more land in Harford County, Maryland, because of generous people like you.