WELLS — Spring snows have made it hard to think about summer, but the Wells Reserve at Laudholm Farm is forcing the issue. The reserve – 2,200 acres of protected land associated with a former saltwater farm – is planning a season of exhibitions and hands-on programs that explore nature and its role in shaping our lives and culture.

A season-long focus on arts and science begins this week with workshops in nature writing, photography and sensory awareness. The Touching Earth EcoArt Collaborative will teach participants to connect to nature with their eyes, ears and noses, and to channel their sensory perceptions with creative expression.

“You may have land that you’re drawn to and you don’t know why – or maybe you do know why. But the land has chosen you in some way to get involved with it,” said Mark Emerson, a Maine writer and photographer who organized the workshops. “We’re going to help you tap into being more aware of what you’re experiencing.”

The reserve has seven miles of nature trails, a complex of historic buildings and a beach. About 25,000 people visit each year.

Nik Charov, president of the Wells Reserve’s nonprofit partner, Laudholm Trust, said the Summer of Art & Science initiative will include guided walks, talks, concerts, readings and other events.

There’s a craft beer workshop on April 29, a book reading and signing by “Tides” author Jonathan White on June 21, and a concert in the barn by the DaPonte String Quartet on Aug. 3. The 30th Laudholm Nature Crafts Festival is set for September.

Beginning June 7, the reserve opens “Power of Place,” an outdoor sculpture exhibition and trail walk curated by June LaCombe, an educator and naturalist from Pownal who arranges sculpture exhibitions across southern and coastal Maine.

The evening sky at Laudholm Farm in Wells. Staff photo by Gregory Rec

LaCombe will place more than 40 works by New England artists across the campus and along one of the reserve’s popular walking trails. A handful of pieces have been in place through the winter.

“This place has been aching for sculpture for a long time,” Charov said. “We’re trying to get people to pay attention longer and deeper.”

That starts with the Touching Earth EcoArt Collaborative workshops, with separate tracks in writing, photography and sensory awareness.

The first, on environmental sensory awareness, meets Saturday. Nature writing begins April 22, and nature photography begins April 29. Each track has an introductory class and two more sessions. People can take a single class or the full series.

Emerson, who grew up in Kennebunk and lives near the reserve in Wells, graduated from Maine College of Art and Massachusetts College of Art, and taught photography at the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies and the University of New England.

In the sensory awareness workshop, people will learn to “listen like a deer, look like an owl and walk like a fox,” Emerson said.

They’ll take mindful walks and learn to listen actively while immersing themselves in the landscape.

The photography workshop will offer examples by established nature and architectural photographers and instruction in composition and technique.

The class will use the buildings and grounds of Laudholm as its classroom.

Writers will practice journaling what they’re sensing to open their creative process, with a goal of identifying the aesthetic qualities of the land and personal connections to it.

In addition to Emerson, the workshops will be taught by writer Megan Grumbling, environmental educator Linda Grenfell and environmental sound artist Jim Cummings.

Staff Writer Bob Keyes can be contacted at 791-6457 or at:

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Twitter: pphbkeyes