Two more downpours Monday, and then the temperature hit 86 degrees when the sun finally came out! Before that, during the cloudy morning, we harvested close to 100 pounds of greens for the Cambridge and Somerville school systems. We’re looking forward to Wednesday when we’ll be harvesting the first Japanese white turnips of the spring for the second CSA pickup. Now that we’ve had a few sunny and warm days, spinach, salad mix and head lettuce are ready for picking and the first scallions are not far behind.
This past Saturday, we planted out the first round of summer squash (pictured below), and we plan to put in the majority of our peppers tomorrow with the help of a volunteer group. In other words, we’re betting that the danger of frost has passed, though we know that we’re not truly safe in Drumlin’s frost pocket until the first week of June.
Over the weekend, Veronica, with the help of Maddie and Jill, ran our first farmers’ market of the year in Union Square, Somerville. They sold out of all the veggies we brought except for five individual potatoes, and in the process set a new earnings record for opening day! Way to go and thanks to the volunteers who helped fill bags of greens as customers whisked them off the display!
Back at the farm, volunteers from medical device makers Boston Scientific helped us weed rhubarb and plant a round of lettuce and sunflowers this past Thursday (pictured below). It was our first corporate volunteer group of the year after a couple of rain outs, and we were grateful for their assistance.
We’re well under way with the the construction of the new hoop house and the installers expect to finish by Wednesday. The only hitch in the process so far was on the first day when they ran into hardness driving the posts at an even 18 inches of depth along the entire length of the house. When they went to excavate to a depth of 26 inches for the concrete footers, they discovered the hardness was caused by a gravelly material that Adam (the head installer, pictured) described as what’s found beneath a lake.
Because of the evenness of the hard pack and the composition of the material, he hypothesized that Boyce was a lake at some point in the distant past–something we often say by way of explanation for how we get by without irrigation: water wants to be there, and by building soil organic matter, we encourage the moisture to linger in the soil’s network.
Those interested are encouraged to get their hands a little dirty by volunteering in the field with us–we could always use more help! And if you haven’t registered for your Summer CSA yet, shares are still available.
After a long winter, it’s time to get back in the field, with thousands of plantings and a few new additions!
Amazingly, April brought us 6.5 inches of rain, falling over 20 of its 30 cloudy days, with an average temperature of 52 degrees. It’s been challenging just moving around the sodden fields and working with the saturated soil. We’re identifying with the turtle, working within our shells of layered shirts and sweaters, all wrapped-up in our mud-covered rain gear; turtling along, we seeded the first greens and carrots of the season on March 28 and have been seeding and transplanting every week since. We’ve harvested over-wintered spinach for Henrietta’s Table in Cambridge, and greens and radish for our first delivery of the season to the Cambridge and Somerville schools.
Despite limitations of weather, all spring planting projects are on schedule thanks to the dedicated work of this year’s Crops Team. During the week of April 15, we pulled back the straw and weeded the half-acre of strawberries we’ll be picking this summer season, then planted 4,000 new strawberry plants for next year’s harvest.
Do you know the natural indicator to plant potatoes? In early April, 2,500 pounds of potatoes arrived from Maine. We hauled them into the barn loft and arranged them on trays in front of the windows for green-sprouting. By the last week of April, they had sprouted leaves. We cut up the largest potatoes to multiply the seed and planted them on May 1, just a few days after we noticed the first blooming dandelions of the season—our signal to plant.
We were thrilled to learn of the town’s approval for our plan to construct a hoop house by Boyce Field to provide year-round, protected growing space. The potential for increased program offerings and more veggie sales with the help of the structure will be a boon to the farm. Thanks to our staff and our neighbors for working together to identify a suitable location for the structure; construction is scheduled to begin at the end of the month.
By the end of last week had about 40% of the onion crops (24,000 plants!) in the ground–only 33,000 plants to go! Thanks to volunteersAnne, Sheila, Francesca, Sandra, and Anna for seeding the majority of what’s in the greenhouse—especially those onions, where they do not scatter seed, but rather place one seed at a time through a grid, 650 seeds per tray, 88 trays–57,200 plants! We’ve also been using volunteer Fred’s new cold frame to harden-off those onions before moving them to the field. Fred’s design is sturdier than previous iterations and the shed roof design allows us to roll and perch the plastic on the high end, simplifying the process of covering and uncovering the plants on cold or rainy nights—of which there have been too many!
If you haven’t secured your spot in the spring CSA, there’s still time, and we have a few slots still open. If you’re looking to learn more about farm-to-table practices and cooking, we have upcoming programs for adults, teens, and families, where you can get hands-on in the field and kitchen!
One of the many special things that makes Drumlin Farm a unique experience is our resident livestock. If you’ve visited recently, you were probably met by the very pregnant sheep and goats still in their thick winter coats. With spring comes the arrival of the newborn lambs and kids, and watching them walk, hop, and play is one of our favorite cornerstone spring activities. Such a favorite that we’ll be celebrating all things fiber and sheep related at Woolapalooza, our annual farm, food, and fiber festival. Visit on March 30th for sheep shearing, sheep dog herding demonstrations, local wool vendors, and a chance to visit the new spring babies!
2. April Vacation Week
February Vacation Week had us looking into the science of snow and winter, but it’s warming up in April! During one day or full week sessions the week of April 15-19, children will explore the thawing ponds for amphibians, take care of the wildlife, prepare and plant the garden, and meet in the kitchen to whip up some tasty treats. April Vacation on Drumlin Farm is always alive with the sounds of laughter and amazement at the new lessons we find.
3. Leafy Spring Vegetables
The spring growing season begins with crispy leafy greens. Bursting with an array of tender head lettuces, herbs, scallions, and salad radishes, we’re excited to start making fresh salad every week. Our spring CSA program allows you to share in the bounty of harvest, and you can pick up Drumlin Farm grown vegetables every week for your own kitchen. As the fields warm, shares will fill out with the first of the season’s carrots, sweet salad turnips, and (weather permitting) sugar snap peas, strawberries, and beets. Taste the difference between store-bought and farm-grown for yourself!
4. The Start of Spring Series Programs
Pencil in Drumlin Farm to your weekly schedule with the arrival of spring Child, Adult/Child Pair, and Family Series programs so you can visit the farm every week! You can spend time with your children in a social, educational environment and explore our habitats and wildlife together with programs like Farm Family, Family Explorations, and Old MacDrumlin’s Farm (families with children ages 2-6). Learn first-hand about “where does my food come from” and experience the farm-to-table process in Drumlin Cooks (ages 9-12), Kids in the Kitchen (ages 6-9), and Cooking Together (families with children ages 3-5).
5. The Return of Vernal Pools & Amphibians
Vernal pools are temporary bodies of water in our forests filled by melting snow and spring rain. Within these muddy, murky waters live a world of life including tadpoles, fairy shrimp, and dragonfly larva that will metamorphose into adults before the pools dry up. Come see for yourself in Polliwogs & Frogs (families with children age 2), Tadpoles & Toads (families with children ages 3-5), and Afternoon Kids Club (ages 4-6).
The daily news doesn’t often focus on science, but for a day or two last November, scientific exploration took over the headlines as the InSight Lander arrived on Mars. The first mission designed to probe the interior of another planet, InSight traveled more than 300 million miles over seven months. Watching the livestream of those final moments, my family and I found ourselves cheering along with the engineers in the control room as they celebrated their success.
This type of “Big Science” victory is one that my kids and I will remember for a lifetime. But just as important are the “small science” moments that happen every day: a butterfly emerging from a chrysalis or a snowflake crystalizing on a mitten. When we stop to look, we start to wonder. That wonder can begin as a sense of amazement at the “magic” of nature, especially in our youngest visitors, but it can lead to more when presented as a question: I wonder how that caterpillar transformed into an entirely different creature? I wonder why that snowflake formed so differently from the one next to it?
Major scientific breakthroughs may occur only a few times in our lives, but the natural world offers up daily opportunities for us to question, to think, and to learn. What’s more, having a formal scientific degree or engineering background isn’t a prerequisite, only your own curiosity. You don’t even have to know the “right” answer to your or your child’s question; their asking is the most important part. We hope that the inquiries that start here at Drumlin Farm, whether you experience them on your own or alongside our educators, will bring discovery and delight, along with inspiration for all of us to become strong environmental stewards.
Wishing you a year of small-science wonders,
Renata Pomponi Drumlin Farm Sanctuary Director
Our new programs and events catalog for April-September 2019 has arrived, filled with new programs to get you and your family and friends outside exploring. Highlights include:
We are very pleased to announce that Drumlin Farm Camp has a new Camp Director! Meghan Haslam comes to us with environmental education and camp experience from all over the world and we’re thrilled that she will be joining Zach D’Arbeloff in leading our camp and teen programs here at Drumlin Farm. Her predecessor, Becky Gilles, is now the Camp Director at Mass Audubon’s overnight camp Wildwood.
began her career in the Peace Corps in Nicaragua, then went on to found and
direct the 4 Walls Project, a housing improvement organization. While
continuing to live and work in Central America, she managed a range of
community and educational programs—including three years as Program Director at
Mountain & Sea Spirit Outdoor Adventures School in
Tatumbla, Honduras. She then returned to the US to become Director of the 100 Elk Outdoor Center in Buena Vista, Colorado.
recently, Meghan oversaw outdoor education and character development programs
for young people and adults at North Carolina Outward Bound School as the Program Director
of their Table Rock Base Camp in Jonas Ridge, North Carolina.
Get to know Meghan and the adventures that lead her to Drumlin Farm with us…
Q: Did you go to camp when you were younger?
A: Yes I did! I attended day camp at Camp Lincoln in NH for years, then an overnight camp in Maine, followed by 8 years as first a camper, then a counselor, at Adventure Unlimited in Buena Vista, CO. I later returned to this beautiful spot in the Rockies to direct school, youth, and corporate programs for the 100 Elk Outdoor Center.
Q: How did your previous experiences shape your interests today?
A: I’ve had the privilege of exploring the outdoors both professionally and personally, and each environment and culture has taught me new perspectives and refreshed my sense of wonder. I feel like my happiest, best self when I am outdoors. Two major experiences that have informed my development and interests today were going to camp and being a counselor when I was a teenager through college, and serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Nicaragua. I am still deeply connected to those communities, and they have propelled my respective interests in outdoor experiences and helping people, whether abroad or in the US.
Q: You’ve had professional and environmental experiences all over the world, how do those compare with the Lincoln area and community?
A: Every ecosystem and its habitats, and each set of culture, language, traditions, etc. shapes a place and its character. I am just getting to know Lincoln and the Drumlin Farm, and greater Mass Audubon communities, but new places and people are always exciting to me. One of the things which immediately drew me to Drumlin Farm was the idea of connecting people and nature through outdoor experiences, and helping people understand the relationship between our food production and natural habitats. My enthusiasm about Drumlin Farm sky-rocketed when I was getting to know several staff members while visiting. I asked them to describe Drumlin in three words or fewer, and every person responded with the word “community”. Other words focused on teaching and discovery, as well as the staff’s commitment to raising awareness of climate change. All of those things sounded fantastic, but the strong sense of community especially spoke to me.
I discovered the importance of community when, at the end of my first year in Peace Corps, I had to evacuate my site in a rural Nicaraguan town due to heavy rains and flooding. I wanted nothing more than to return to my community and help out. It was a pivotal moment which led me to start a community-based housing improvement project that grew into a much larger initiative bringing volunteers from all over the world to connect with families and build homes. Over the years of working outdoors, the inextricable links between nature and communities have become ever clearer. I left my first visit at Drumlin Farm with the understanding that its mission was to develop connections between communities and their environments, and that felt like an ideal fit for me.
Q: What are you most looking forward to in your first summer as the Drumlin Farm Camp Director?
A: I found my voice and self-confidence as a young person at camp. Now, my favorite aspect of camp is supporting both campers and staff as they learn and grow. It is a marvelous opportunity to watch and help young people blossom into their best selves through both challenges and having fun. I’m excited to learn new lessons about the farm, wildlife, and this particular set of habitats, and to share those with our campers. Helping them be happy, healthy, and inspired is a really cool job to have.
Q: What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
A: I enjoy being outside with my big, fluffy dog and my partner–whether on a beach, in the woods, on a mountain, or just around town. I spend time hiking, mountain biking, kayaking, and skiing whenever possible. Reading, photography, writing, and speaking Spanish also bring me great joy. I work with two international organizations, the 4 Walls Project, the home improvement initiative in Nicaragua, and a girls’ scholarship program, One New Education (ONE), and visit my Peace Corps town on a regular basis via both of these projects. I love traveling, exploring new places and cultures, and bringing people with me to experience the adventure.
A big welcome to the newest member of the Drumlin Farm animal ambassador family, a female red fox! Like our resident male fox, she was found as an orphaned kit (young fox) in Illinois. Upon her discovery in February 2018 she weighed only 1.5 pounds. During her rehabilitation, she became habituated to her human caregivers and was deemed non-releasable, unable to survive on her own in the wild. She’s grown a lot since then and is adjusting well to the East Coast move, now weighing in at a healthy 10 pounds.
The new female fox joins the ranks of the many honorable animal ambassadors that call Drumlin Farm home and work to connect our visitors to the natural world in unique ways. Many Drumlin Farm visitors have never even seen a fox in person before, and know surprisingly little about these sly canines. Next time you visit, we invite you stop by the New England Wildlife Exhibit to see them up close. You can distinguish the female from the male by the relatively smaller white tip on her tail. As foxes are mostly nocturnal, the pair are often most active during early in the morning and at night, but our two foxes can regularly be seen exploring the exhibit, observing the cows in the pasture, or napping throughout the day. Check out the Fox Cam in our exhibit space to see the night-vision camera collecting data on their after-hours behavior. You can also explore inside our newly opened Fox Den viewing area, with its plexiglass window for a clear look inside the enclosure. Either way, don’t miss your chance to say hello to the newest member of the Drumlin Farm family!
Edie Sisson is a Drumlin Farm superstar. She has been teaching at Drumlin Farm for fifty years, and during that time has opened countless people’s eyes to the wonders of nature. She believes in living sustainably, and her household includes chickens, geese, and honeybees, and for many years she provided many thousands of fertilized eggs for incubation to schoolchildren across the state, while her late husband, Tom, served as Drumlin Farm’s beekeeper. She also believes, passionately, in social justice and in the power of an individual to make a difference.
In 2007, she founded the Drumlin Farm Outreach and Assistance Resources (DOAR) program to provide scholarship support to make Drumlin Farm available to schools, families, and others for whom the financial barriers were too high, as well as to increase the diversity and accessibility of our community. Thanks to the DOAR Program, many people have been able to experience the magic of nature and the farm first hand. Seeing wildlife up close, getting your hands dirty in the garden caring for plants, and observing the interconnectedness of the natural world are lessons that last a life time and have inspired many, thanks to Edie’s push for inclusiveness.
On November 20, Drumlin colleagues past and present joined with Edie’s family to celebrate both her 90th birthday and her 50th anniversary at Drumlin Farm with a lunch in her honor. Just a couple of days before Thanksgiving, it was a perfect opportunity to reflect on all that Edie has brought to our community and give thanks for her!
If you would like to make a gift to the DOAR Fund to help support socially diverse programs at Drumlin Farm, please contact Polly Reeve (firstname.lastname@example.org, 781-259-2239).
The leaves are sparse, the chilling air has set in, and the Drumlin Farm Cooking Together class is preparing to make Drumlin Farm’s seasonal favorite, pumpkin waffles with homemade butter and apple cider syrup. Every week, this class of 3-5 year olds and their parents learn, and enjoy, a new recipe together. Perfect for a fall weekend breakfast, this simple recipe uses a combination of seasonal spices and homemade ingredients to create a meal that you’ll keep coming back for seconds…and thirds…and maybe fourths if there’s enough!
1 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
3/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon melted butter
Preheat waffle iron.
Add dry ingredients to a large bowl and whisk to combine. If you’d like to follow along the “Cooking Together” way, feel free to sing a “mixing, mixing, mixing” song along with it.
Mixing, mixing, mixing!
In a separate large bowl, add wet ingredients and mix together until smooth.
Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients, mixing until combined.
Spray waffle iron with nonstick cooking spray, scoop mixture onto iron, and cook about 3-4 minutes.
While the waffles were cooking, families gathered around circle time to take turns continuously shaking 1 cup of heavy cream in a mason jar until a solid formed, and we had homemade butter. Our Teachers prepped the serving station with another Drumlin Farm recipe favorite–apple cider syrup.
Apple Cider Syrup
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup apple cider
1-2 tablespoons lemon juice (depending on how tart you like it)
2 table spoons butter
To make the syrup, stir together the sugar, cornstarch, and cinnamon in a saucepan.
Stir in the apple cider and lemon juice and cook over medium heat until mixture begins to boil.
Boil until the syrup thickens. Remove from heat and stir in the butter until melted. Serve warm.
Anxiously awaiting the toppings!
And voila! When the waffles are done cooking you’ll have a deliciously cozy fall favorite. Adorn your own waffle station with the favorite fixings of your choosing and enjoy a breakfast with family, made with love.
Take it from our class, you’re going to want to make enough for second–and thirds! Registration is now open for our next series of Cooking Together classes, starting January 22!
Lining back up for another helping!
The best breakfasts are the ones eaten together with a smile!
Sounds like winter arrives tomorrow, so we’re doing our best to bring in the last of the parsnips, leeks, and brussels sprouts before the thermometer hits the teens! Last week and yesterday, we finished the fall carrot harvest (pictured below), stacking over a ton into the root cellar. Jobs that remain include: mulching the strawberries, rhubarb, and perennial garden; stowing away equipment and preparing the wash station and Green Barn for winter; and seeding micro-greens and arugula in the greenhouse.
You may have also noticed pea tendrils already growing on heat mats in the greenhouse (pictured below). VolunteersAnne, Sheila and Francesca seeded those last week. Many thanks! The last Somerville market of the season is this coming this Saturday, and then we’ll have a break before starting at the Wayland Winter Farmer’s Market on Saturday,January 19. Tomorrow is the last fall CSA distribution of the year, and it’s taking place in the Green Barn where we’ll be happy to turn on the heat! We’ll be stocking up on Thanksgiving essentials like carrots, potatoes, butternut squash, garlic and onions.
The fall’s incessant rain brings to mind the House of Usher, and how it finally dissolved into the vaporous bog it was built on. In Poe’s tale, it was the isolation of the family that led to its ruin and symbolic collapse. And while these days it feels as if the squishy ground could open and swallow all the farm’s barns and buildings, our story is different because we’re not alone. We have all of you to thank for supporting us through another successful growing season. Whether you worked in the field, sold produce to customers, shared the story of our farming methods with others, or cooked a meal with Drumlin ingredients, you took part and contributed to this solid community. We’re thankful for you, and wish you the best during the holidays!
Saturday’s Nor’easter shut down the farmers’ market and gifted us a real weekend. We learned about the market cancellation on Friday, and so made use of the hours normally spent harvesting to finish planting next year’s garlic crop. We’ll try to mulch the patch with straw tomorrow afternoon and early Thursday before the next round of rain arrives. The mulch will even out extremes of temperature over the winter and hopefully will prevent weed growth next spring. There’s an art to spreading straw: too thick, and it smothers the garlic; too thin, and the weeds come charging through; just right, and come May all you see is neat rows of green garlic on a field of straw.
Today and tomorrow are the last times we’ll set up the farmstand for the season, so be sure to stock up on onions, potatoes, carrots, cabbage, squash and sweet potatoes. We will be distributing fall CSA shares twice more after tomorrow on November 7 and 14. We may move those last two distributions to the Green Barn depending on the weather, so keep an eye out for any announcements in your newsletters. Although we no longer have a winter CSA program, we’re excited to start attending the Wayland Winter Market at Russell’s Garden Center. We’ll be there on January 19 for the first time, then twice more in February and twice again in March. We’re starting to plan our microgreen and pea tendril seeding schedule so that we’ll have something verdant to bring to market in addition to our usual root crops, onions and garlic.