Local Youth-Led Teams Take Climate Justice into their Own Hands

Drumlin Farm Youth Leaders for Climate Justice

On Saturday, November 23, Mass Audubon’s Drumlin Farm hosted their second annual Youth Leaders for Climate Justice (YLCJ) Summit: a day of learning, community-building, and the beginning of a semester-long climate action project planning process. Teams of high school students from throughout Eastern Massachusetts, many of whom represent environmental science and climate change clubs in their communities, came together to learn more about climate change, social justice, and what they can do to make a difference.

The Summit kicks off the 2019/2020 season of the Youth Leaders for Climate Justice Program at Drumlin Farm, a semester-long civic-action and leadership initiative, empowering and supporting teams of high-school aged students to take action to mitigate climate change and promote climate justice in their communities. The program is part of Mass Audubon’s larger Youth Climate Summit initiative, with seven sanctuaries throughout the state currently organizing similar events.

Climate Change & People

The YLCJ program aims to create and support young leaders who will address the issue of climate change as a human issue, as unfortunately, those who have less resources will be the most affected. Therefore, when talking about climate change, we address it with the knowledge that the communities most at-risk of climate disaster are also the ones who have less time, money, and political power to do something to stop it. YLCJ supports young people–the ones inheriting our warming planet–with the knowledge, skills, and community connections needed to create change and take action in an informed and equitable way.

The Summit

Outgrowing our own facility capabilities, this year’s summit was held at nearby Brandeis University in Waltham, with over 100 participants in attendance including presenters, staff, students, and club advisors from a variety of communities in the Boston and Metrowest area.

The 2019/2020 YLCJ cohort includes teams beyond Drumlin Farm (represented by the blue pin), including Mass Audubon Boston Nature Center in Mattapan, English High School in Jamaica Plain, Framingham High School, Mass Audubon Habitat Sanctuary in Belmont, Boston Latin Academy, Montrose School in Medfield, Lowell High School, Concord-Carlisle Regional High School, Waltham High School, Wayland High School, First Parish Church of Groton, and Mass Audubon Broad Meadow Brook Sanctuary in Worcester.

The busy Summit day was filled with learning and networking opportunities, food featuring Drumlin Farm grown ingredients, and a keynote address from 15th Suffolk District State Representative Nika Elugardo. The day started with a session by David Corbie from Greenovate Boston and Jamele Adams, Brandeis’ Dean of Students, exploring climate justice communications, listening, and team building. Breakout sessions throughout the day allowed students to explore various topics, including Project Communication and Design presented by Drumlin Farm Camp Director, Meghan Haslam, Increasing Biodiversity to Combat Climate Change presented by Meadowscaping for Biodiversity, and a workshop on The Transition to a Renewable Energy Future presented by Tufts and Brandeis University professor Brian Roach. Participants then split into mixed groups of advisors and students from different schools and organizations to draft a “Commitment to Climate Justice Manifesto”, a pact to each other detailing what climate justice means to them, how they will take action, and why.

Students work on drafting their personalized “Commitment to Climate Justice Manifesto” to present to the larger group. Photo Credit: Pearce Kelley

Next Steps: Community Action

The work doesn’t stop here—equipped with the knowledge shared at the summit, students will now embark on the creation and implementation of their own, personalized, semester-long climate justice action project in their community, before meeting back together on April 4 to present their work at the Youth Leaders for Climate Justice Showcase, open to the public. Follow their progress and learn more about the work these inspiring high schoolers are doing with our upcoming series of blogs, written by the Youth Leaders themselves.

If you would like to learn more about the Youth Leaders for Climate Justice program, please email DrumlinFarmYLCJ@massaudubon.org.

The 2019/2020 Youth Leaders for Climate Justice cohort together for a break outdoors during the busy day. Photo Credit: Pearce Kelley

Many thanks to those that helped make this program possible, including Brandeis University for hosting and collaborating on the program, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education After-School and Out of School Time for contributions to much-needed funding, and our donors in-kind Dowse Orchards, Bees Wrap, and Preserve .

Electric Vehicle Charging Arrives at Drumlin Farm

You can now charge your car at your next visit to Drumlin Farm with one of our new electric vehicle charging stations.

As part of an ongoing statewide initiative at Mass Audubon to decrease carbon emissions and increase access to greener transportation options for our communities, Drumlin Farm, PowerOptions, and Eversource, collaborated on the new installation.

One of the stations was donated by the nonprofit PowerOptions, New England’s largest energy buying consortium. Eversource paid for and coordinated the infrastructure improvements needed to power the stations and installation was done by Horizon Energy. Each EVC station is capable of charging two cars, providing power for up to four vehicles at a time. Through the Chargepoint app, electric vehicle owners can set up charging at the stations through their phones.

“Drumlin Farm is proud to be making a difference in providing education and motivation for a healthier and sustainable world,” says Sanctuary Director Renata Pomponi. “With programs that reach more than 140,000 children and adults each year, we are excited about the opportunity to provide meaningful engagement and positive solutions around climate change, the critical environmental issue of our time. We are grateful for the donation from PowerOptions and the infrastructure support from Eversource to help us reach our goal of reducing our own carbon footprint and providing opportunities for our visitors to ‘drive green’ on their trips to the farm.”

In recent years, the transportation sector has surpassed power plants as the largest source of carbon dioxide emissions in the US.  Unlike traditional vehicles, electric vehicles do not release any exhaust emissions when driven. This means that they not only reduce greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, they also eliminate dangerous air pollution that causes smog and other health and ecological risks. Check out Mass Audubon’s recent blog on how to green your transportation for more on how you can get involved.

Interested in learning more about climate change and how Mass Audubon is working with communities to combat it? Find more information here.

Crops Update: Moon Over Drumlin’s Flower Team

For those of us lucky enough to be at Moon Over Drumlin this past Saturday, we were treated to an event thoughtfully orchestrated in every detail. The tent looked beautiful, and every dish the chefs created amplified the love and attention that goes into raising Drumlin’s livestock and crops. I felt especially grateful to have a moment to relax with the Crops team away from the fields and say thanks for a job well done—both in preparing for Moon and throughout the season. Here we are as a team cutting flowers for the event, that would become table centerpieces:

From L to R in the back is Highsmith, Jill, Erica and Veronica. In the front is your narrator (Matt), Maddie, and Kari. We were joined by many flower cutting volunteers that night, and more volunteers assembled the table bouquets on Saturday morning. Congratulations and thanks to all who participated in making the event a success! A special thanks to Jill for designing the bouquets and leading so many new-to-harvesting folks. Thanks also to CSA member Jocelyn Finlay (and her daughters) for help with the flower harvest and for taking this wonderful picture!

It looks like two nights of more serious frost coming our way this Friday and Saturday. Thankfully, we’re already half way through the sweet potato harvest because of the work of four volunteer groups over the past week. Volunteers from Wayfair, Appian Way Energy, Paytronix and Wellesley College all dug one bed of sweet potatoes each. On Tuesday, Wayfair volunteers also dug regular potatoes (lots of digging for them!) and picked tomatoes for CSA distribution. On Thursday, Appian Way volunteers weeded the strawberry patch and picked beans for Saturday’s market. On Friday, Paytronix volunteers picked tomatoes, eggplant, beans and peppers for market. Thanks all for keeping us on pace with the fall harvest. As soon as we finish the sweet potatoes, we’ll start filling the root cellar with storage potatoes.

See you in the field,

Your Farmers

5 Fall Farm Experiences You Won’t Want to Miss

Getting Here

208 South Great Road, Lincoln, MA

By Train: We’re a short walk from the Lincoln MBTA train station on the Fitchburg line. Follow the town trails from the station to the farm, and stop for pizza or a coffee on your way back! Take advantage of the $10 weekend MBTA pass for a weekend beyond-your-backyard adventure.

By Bike/Walking Trail: Lincoln boasts a fabulous network of walking and biking trails that run through the town’s beautiful sights and vistas, connecting greenways and natural areas. What’s better–Drumlin Farm is conveniently located along the paths on Lincoln and Codman Road. Get your steps in for the day by walking in, or park your bike at our bike rack.

By Car: Take advantage of the 4 newly installed electric vehicle charging stations in the parking lot. Charge your car while exploring the property and return to a full battery at the end of the visit.

1. Exploring by Hayride

There’s no better way to cover the trails and explore the farm loop than by sitting on a hay bale, traveling by tractor hayride. With the sun shining down and the crisp autumn air around you, this fall-classic is a nostalgic thrill you can’t find everywhere. Grab your tickets at admissions, hop aboard outside of the Red Barn, and enjoy! Hayrides run on Saturday and Sunday until Thanksgiving weekend.

2. Shopping the Farmstand

Crisp leafy greens, squashes and gourds, and a variety of seasonal fall-favorites can be found at the farmstand by admissions. Drumlin Farm-raised meats, yarn made from our sheep’s fleece, honey from hives on site, and eggs from our chickens can also be purchased. Take a little farm home with you by making delicious fall recipes using local, sustainable ingredients!

3. Witnessing the Changing Season

What makes a wildlife sanctuary unique from other outdoor trails you might visit? Our property is managed with wildlife and habitat health in mind, which makes trail explorations teem with natural encounters. Watch and listen for migrating fall birds in the meadows and forests and catch glimpses of scampering critters beefing up before the winter. Perhaps you’ll see our resident family of wild turkeys that roam the property, or take a walk up the drumlin–one of the highest point in the greater Boston area–where you can take in a beautiful vista and see the outline of Mount Wachusett, over 30 miles away, on a clear day.

4. Visiting Native Wildlife & Livestock

Meet the animals that make up our New England landscapes and history! Sheep, goats, pigs, chickens, and cows teach visitors about the ins and outs of farming and our historic connection to these important animals. Bird Hill (hosting owls, hawks, pheasants, and more) and the New England Wildlife Exhibit (with rabbits, snakes, foxes, and more) feature our animal ambassadors that teach us about native animals and their role in creating healthy ecosystems in Massachusetts.

5. Dropping-in for Interactive Activities

You could meet a raptor, mammal, or reptile; see a pony grooming demonstration; feel real pelts and furs; and more at our drop-in activities, included with the price of admission. Teacher Naturalists stationed around the farm engage visitors in hands-on learning opportunities to answer all your farm and nature questions and introduce you to a side of nature you may not have seen. Drop-in activities take place at 10:00 am, 11:30 am, and 2:30 pm on weekends.

Bonus: Tales of the Night, Our Spookiest Farm Festivity

If you want a classic fall experience, there’s really nothing quite like a spooky adventure through the farm and a haunted hayride. If you’re free Friday or Saturday, October 25 and 26, plan a night at our annual special event, Tales of the Night. Travel through candle-lit paths and jack-o-lanterns, meet animals and story book characters, and try some witches brew and ghoulish treats! Tickets sell out for this popular event, so early registration is recommended.

Crops Update

Tuesday morning’s harvest was especially long because of all the additional food going to chefs for this Saturday’s Moon Over Drumlin—our annual farm-to-table gala and live auction. Moon Over Drumlin features one-of-a-kind tastings from seven local partner chefs made with ingredients from Drumlin Farm. A few tickets are still available too! We’re looking forward to seeing you all there, and to tasting what our talented partnering chefs concoct.

If you were wondering, yes, it did freeze at the farm Thursday and Friday mornings of last week! This is one disadvantage of farming at the bottom of an ancient lake—cold air settles there. Beans, cucumbers and husk cherries are the first casualties of the fall, but tomatoes and melons continue to produce, and you will find some beautiful fruit at the stand today.

We did get all the edible squash out of the field before the frost. And thankfully, the pumpkins were exposed to only two cold nights before volunteer coordinator Pam pulled together an emergency volunteer group from the Appalachian Mountain Club to help clear the patch this past Sunday. Maddie, Veronica, and Kari worked an extra afternoon, and the volunteers (some returning to the farm for the third time this season!) got a serious workout loading the pumpkins onto the trucks and then ferrying them into the greenhouse. Thanks to all your hard work, the greenhouse is very crowded (pictured below)!

We would have been even more behind schedule this morning if not for the harvesting help given to us on Monday by a volunteer group from Middlesex School. Together we picked over 100 pounds of cherry tomatoes for chefs, and also started digging the sweet potatoes. We’ve worked with Middlesex students before, and they always do fabulous work.

We’ll continue getting ready to celebrate the intersection of the community’s labor and the Hatheways’ vision for what this land can provide on Saturday. Looking forward to raising a glass with you at Moon Over Drumlin!

See You in the Field

Your Farmers

Crops Update: Butternut Squash on the Horizon

It’s predicted to be in the 30s by early Thursday, and so we are in harvesting high gear trying to maximize 2019 yields before frost. This past Thursday, we finished the restaurant harvest just as a group of Lexington Christian Academy freshmen were arriving to help with the squash harvest. We had clipped several beds of butternut squash the previous afternoon, so they started by crating and loading them onto a truck. Next, we transplanted the last 1,600 lettuce seedlings of the year before weeding through two beds of collards. Then we handed out clippers, and the students and chaperones cut, crated and loaded acorn and more butternut squash—over 2,500 pounds of it!

That afternoon, a large group of volunteers from Perkin Elmer started by unloading all that squash into the greenhouse—we made a long bucket brigade and passed each crate from person to person, from the truck bed to the greenhouse bench. We then headed to the field where half of the volunteers harvested, loaded, and then unloaded an additional 5,000 pounds of butternut squash. The other half of the group harvested beans, tomatoes and husk cherries for Saturday’s market. What an amazing day! Thanks all for working hard and accomplishing so much.

On Saturday, volunteers from Boston College School of Theology arrived just as it started to pour. Improvising, we took shelter in the greenhouse where we worked on topping onions for an hour. We still have more to do, but we made enough space to bring in some mini-pumpkins later that day. We were disappointed to discover a lot of rot in the pumpkin patch, but it looks like this is going to be where we experience the down side of what has been a very wet growing season. On the positive side, brassicas and cover crops have been loving the rain. The buckwheat is in full flower, and those sections of the field look snow-covered (pictured above). The second successions of tomatoes, melons, and watermelons are still producing well; come to the stand today to get yours.

See you in the field,

Your Farmers

Crops Update: September Transitions

It’s your last chance to register for the Fall CSA farm share program, starting Wednesday, September 11! Get your share of fall favorites, end-of-summer delights, and flavorful melons to enjoy Drumlin Farm produce throughout the season. Register online today!


Thankfully, we got hardly any rain or wind from hurricane Dorian. The fields are still wet, but getting drier. With all those pumpkins and squash sitting in the field, we’d like it to stay sunny and warm until we have a chance to harvest them. In addition to all the critters and bugs that like to nibble winter squash, temperatures below 55 will also damage them. We still need to clear the greenhouse of onions in order to move more squash in there, so we’re in a holding pattern for the moment harvesting large quantities of beans and tomatoes while trying to find a spare moment to organize the fall harvest.

On Thursday of last week, volunteers from Change Healthcare gave us a tremendous boost with field and harvesting work ahead of Saturday’s market. Together we weeded beets, harvested 150 pounds of string beans, and planted our second-to-last round of lettuce for the season. Already that was a lot of work, but they stayed on for an extra 45 minutes harvesting husk cherries. Thanks to them, we had enough beans and husk cherries for both the Union Square market (pictured below) and Saturday and Sunday’s farm stand!

Today, for the first time this year, we delivered produce to the Cambridge school system— cherry tomatoes, greens, radish, watermelons and peppers. Next week, we begin delivering to the Somerville school system. Fall CSA begins tomorrow, so register asap if you haven’t already. It’s a fun time of year to be sharing the bounty of the fields with you. On cool nights you can roast squash, garlic, and root veggies, and on hot days you can still cut open a Drumlin Farm watermelon.

See you in the field,

Your Farmers

Crops Update: Restaurant Preparations

The Fall CSA farm share program is fast approaching and begins Wednesday, September 11. Get your share of fall favorites, end-of-summer delights, and flavorful greens to enjoy Drumlin Farm produce throughout the fall. Register online today!


We had a chill 46 numbing degrees for this morning’s restaurant harvest! Thankfully, the sun came up fairly quickly to thaw us out. It’s dry in the fields after two weeks without significant rainfall. Greens are germinating more slowly now with only morning dew to get them going, but established plants seem to be enjoying the dry conditions. Cucumbers and melons, which often suffer from foliar diseases this late in the summer, look healthy and continue to produce lots of delicious fruit. But rain is predicted for tomorrow night, and we need to seed cover crop on the next set of fields to take advantage of the potential free irrigation. We’ve been plowing and raking fields where we’ve finished cropping for the season in order to prepare them to receive cover crop seed.

With the smaller Crops Team after end-of-summer departures, Monday’s pre-harvest is the key to a successful Tuesday restaurant run. Many thanks to Maddie and volunteers Anne and Francesca for picking twenty pounds of string beans and eighty pounds of cherry tomatoes yesterday afternoon. That was a good start towards finishing this morning’s mega harvest for 15 different chefs. Our availability list for this week has over 60 individual items on it, so it’s a complicated process in the wash station distributing all that variety to so many accounts. The team has come up with many nifty organizational strategies to streamline all aspects of our work with chefs (pictures below). But then there’s still lots of old-fashioned pointing and shouting out directions, which is part of the fun and thrill of crops teamwork, deadlines, and getting more done in less amount of time than we thought possible.

While we’re working on restaurant work, we’re also separating out the produce that needs to go to the farm stand. This morning, Veronica and Kari, with unexpected and welcome help from Maricella, displayed beautiful cantaloupe, watermelons and tomatoes at the stand. We’re just now starting to pick from the second succession of peppers, tomatoes and melons. So as the first successions begin to decline, the quality of produce should remain high into the fall.

See you in the field,

Your Farmers

Crops Update: Crops Team Departures, Deer Arrivals

The eggplant, tomatoes, and melons are loving this warm, sunny weather. There are lots at the stand today, and we’ll start picking the larger watermelon varieties tomorrow. Without much rain over the past two weeks, fruit flavors are concentrated and at their best. There has been some morning dew, and a sprinkle here and there—enough moisture to get the cover crops going that we seeded last week. Teachers, now is a great time to walk the fields and investigate the different shapes and sizes of the young cover crop plants!

It’s that time of year when people on the Crops team start heading in different directions. Last week, we said goodbye to Kirsty, who had been helping us part-time since April and on Saturday, Margot finished a month of full-time volunteering. We already felt their absence this morning during the restaurant harvest, but we got it done thanks to the pre-harvesting Erica and Maddie did with volunteers Anne and Francesca on Monday afternoon. To those moving-on from Drumlin, thanks for your hard work! To those of us staying, it’s time to step up our game! 

At this time of year, we could spend every daylight hour harvesting and marketing the produce, but there are still weeds to control. Last Thursday, our Teacher Naturalist Sally once again brought high schoolers in Lowell’s summer employment program to the farm for a tour and some field work. Together, we weeded through the entire sweet potato patch (pictured below).

Nice work! My only concern is that now the deer will have an easier time finding the sweet potato leaves—one of their favorite crops. I haven’t been seeing deer lately, but their tracks are everywhere, and they are damaging carrots, chard, lettuce and beets. Based on the number of hoof prints, there are more deer in the field than at any time since I started here in 2005. If you see one out there, kindly make it scram!

We’re also looking forward to the Fall CSA farm share program starting September 11. Shares include summer favorites like heirloom tomatoes, peppers, and carrots; the best of fall, including parsnips, winter squashes, onions, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and other root crops; and variety of fresh and cooking greens. Register for your spot today!

See you in the field,

Your Farmers

Crops Update: Tomatoes, Melons & Corn

It’s the only week of the season when we’ll have tomatoes, melons, and corn for sale at the same time–and all are at the stand right now! We just started picking cantaloupe yesterday, and the flavor is superb. We’ll have corn for the next few days, and possibly over the weekend, but then we’re out. We eliminated our last succession of corn, because in our no-spray corn system, those late ears get too buggy for people to enjoy. Watermelons are only a few days away, so keep an eye out for them as well.

We’re currently in the process of moving electric fences from the sweet corn to the melons. The coyotes have already started to enjoy a few melons, so it’s time to exclude them. We love having coyotes in the field because we believe they keep the deer on edge and moving, but we know from experience that they don’t know how to exercise portion control when it comes to the melons!

Garlic was step 1 of the fall harvest and we’ve almost completed step 2, the onions. Step 3 begins in late August and September with winter squash and pumpkins, wrapping up with root vegetables (carrots, potatoes, parsnips) in late September and early October. On Thursday, volunteers from Definitive Healthcare of Framingham helped us search around in the weeds (pictured above) for what looks like a very promising crop of storage onions. They had already weeded in the strawberry patch for an hour before hauling the onions, but survived the heat and humidity and got lots done. On Saturday, community volunteers helped us bring in more of the crop. The onions are drying in the greenhouse, and the shade cloth we’ve stretched over the top of the house keeps the temperature down and direct sun off the bulbs (pictured below). If exposed to direct sun while drying, the onions will turn green.

On Tuesday of last week, volunteers from ENGIE Insight helped us dig potatoes and harvest eggplant for the next day’s CSA distribution. They have helped us in years past, and we’ve really appreciated having help from all individual and corporate volunteers during these hottest days of the summer. Hopefully those hotter days are behind us. The dragonflies continue to help us with pest control, and you can observe hundreds of them patrolling the fields in the evening. A few nights ago, there was a school of them at the edge of the bobolink field, more easily heard than seen. But, if you looked toward the lighter sky you could see them silhouetted against it. In this picture below, you can see two of them towards the left. However, we recommend taking walk out there one evening to get the full experience.

See you in the field,

Your Farmers