Author Archives: Mass Audubon

Farmer’s Updates

Yesterday, we were concerned about nighttime temperatures that were predicted to fall into the teens. We decided to go ahead and harvest the leeks, collards and kale that we’ll distribute at the second Winter CSA pick-up.

Boyce 2 ADAt around 3:45 pm, as the sun dropped low in the sky, the leeks began to freeze in our hands as we were peeling and topping them. We quickly finished the work and hurried in to the wash station to spray, dunk and pack them. We had previously harvested the kale, and it was floating in large basins of water. Pulling the kale out of the dunk tanks to make way for the leeks further stupefied our already numb hands. When we went to spray the leeks, we found that the hoses had partially frozen. We had to run the water for several minutes to clear the ice. As we finally loaded the truck with the leeks and kale for transport to the root cellar, the wash water on the ground was freezing and we were slipping around. The whole business was painful and fun at the same time.

And now the root cellar is comically over-full. We had to put the last crates right at the bottom of the stairs, and so now there’s no going into the root cellar unless you’re taking something out. And this space crunch comes even though we stored about 3,000 pounds of veggies in bulk bins in the green barn basement. So, it was a bountiful year, and we also grew more crops with the goal of filling the new, larger root cellar. But because of construction delays on that project, we’ve been getting creative with storing the extras.

HYelle ok to use (7)This will be the last crops update until the spring. We have much to do in the coming weeks:

  • Finish the roots harvest
  • Mulch the strawberries
  • Take soil samples
  • Write the crop plan for next season
  • Order seeds and materials
  • Clean barns, equipment, and vehicles
  • Inventory and order supplies
  • Run winter CSA distributions
  • Seed and harvest greens for the greens share
  • Hire a team for next season

and, of course, take some time off!

-Matt Celona is the Crops Manager at Drumlin Farm Wildlife Sanctuary

One Potato, Two Potato


At Drumlin Farm, we specialize in root vegetables, and potatoes make up a large portion of our root cellar selection. Our farmers are harvesting the last of the season’s produce to prepare for our Winter CSA program, with more than 1,500 pounds of potatoes stored in the root cellar already. However not all potatoes are created equally.

In fact, we grow 11 different types of potatoes. Why? Each variety has different textures, storage capacity, and flavors. With each Winter CSA shareholder receiving 40-50 pounds of potatoes from November to February, it’s nice to have a variety to choose from.

Here’s a quick guide to the best ways to use the eight potato varieties our shareholders will enjoy this winter.


Name Color Texture Fact/Use
Yukon gold yellow skin, yellow flesh Dry, semi-firm Great for baking and roasting
Blue gold Blue skin, yellow flesh dry Also known as Peter Wilcox potatoes. Firm, non-waxy flesh is good for hash browns
Adirondack Red Red skin, pink flesh waxy High in antioxidants, good for baking, roasting, or frying
Purple Viking Purple/pink skin, white flesh Waxy, smooth Drought resistant, makes excellent mashed potatoes
Strawberry Paw Red skin, white flesh Firm, moist Waxy flesh is perfect for boiling, baking, and especially potato salads
Anushka Yellow skin, yellow flesh Waxy Great for mashed potatoes and French fries
Red Maria Red skin, white flesh moist Great for boiling because the flesh stays firm
Kennebec Yellow skin, white flesh Smooth Named for the Kennebec River in Maine. Fluffy nature is good for mashed and baked potato dishes.

Register for our Winter CSA program to enjoy all these varieties, plus our other storage crops such as beets, carrots, and winter squash from November to February. Email [email protected] or call 781-259-2206 to register.

Happy eating!

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Being Green at Drumlin Farm

Energy conservation and sustainable living are critically important to Mass Audubon and Drumlin Farm, whether it is something large scale like the 100% sustainable electricity that we use to power our buildings or something as simple as the rocks in our welcome area, which were “recycled” into seating areas during the creation of the Nature Center. Understanding and minimizing our impact on the environment is part of every decision we make. Here are some examples of how Drumlin has incorporated these ideals.


  • The photovoltaic panels on the roof of our Nature Center generate electricity equivalent to 22% of the building’s needs. There are 48 photovoltaic modules with an output of approximately 9,750 kWh of power per year. The energy savings of the Nature Center panels is equivalent to planting 1058 trees or avoiding 247,884 miles of driving, which will prevent 226,615 pounds of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere over 25 years!
  • P1100732The Pig Barn has a Solar Wall, which helps to keep the barn warm in the winter. The sun warms the metal surface of this solar wall, creating a thin layer of air that is 5 to 30˚F warmer than the outside temperature. A fan pulls the warmed air into the building, reducing heating costs and providing ventilation.
  • The photovoltaic array at the Farm Life Center generates electricity to accommodate the complete needs of the building – heating, cooling, lighting, and utility power. On sunny days, unneeded power is directed into the regional electricity grid. On cloudy days, we draw from the grid. Over the course of a year, the system is about net zero.


  • 6.18.09 022Earthen beams behind the Poultry House prevent manure-laden runoff water from reaching the Poultry Pond, and filtering plants absorb extra nutrients as the water flows by to prevent water pollution.
  • We never irrigate our crops. We avoid energy-intensive irrigation systems by cultivating healthy soils through our growing methods, such as rotating crops and letting fields lie fallow.
  • Our bathrooms use a dual flush system to minimize the amount of water used per flush.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

  • Our beds in the Learning Garden are made from 100% recycled HDPE plastic (#2 milk bottles). These garden beds are used for camps and other programs to grow many of the same vegetables we grow on Boyce field.
  • By M. Kheyfetz ok to use 8.27.08 (45)Composting is a big part of our farming operation. Beneficial bacteria break down plant and vegetable scraps into a natural fertilizer called compost. Spreading compost on our garden beds and fields also reduces water usage by holding moisture in the soil. Boyce Field has a large compost pile that recycles all of the farm animal waste, contributing to the incredible richness of the soil.
  • The roof shingles on the Poultry House are made from recycled rubber tires. Rubber shingles are more durable than traditional asphalt and make good use of discarded material.


bottlebilllogoDrumlin Farm supports passing Question 2 on November 4 to update the Bottle Bill! Currently, 80% of bottles with a 5 cent deposit are recycled, while only 23% of non-deposit bottles, such as water, iced tea and sports drinks, are recycled. Those bottles end up as litter in our parks and trash in our landfills. The updated Bottle Bill will add the deposit to those bottles to encourage recycling and make a cleaner, greener Massachusetts. Find the facts and spread the word—Yes on 2!

This is only a small sampling of our sustainable initiatives, but hopefully it gives you some ideas on things you can do at home or your own workplace to help preserve the nature of Massachusetts.

Want to know more about Drumlin Farm’s green features? Come to Green Fest on October 13! We will have games, crafts, and fun activities around sustainable living. You’ll see—it’s easy being green!

Northern Saw-whet Owls

Saw whet owl-Kathy Clayton

Saw-whet owls have yellow eyes, white faces, white-speckled heads, and mottled brown feathers. Small birds that only weigh 2.3-5.3 ounces and stand 7.1-8.3 inches, they tend to eat mice. An adult mouse will sometimes last a saw-whet owl two meals.

Usually found in forests, the saw-whet owl is one of the most common owls in North America. Very nocturnal, they are rarely seen but frequently heard. They repeatedly make shrill too-too-too calls. They were even named for their call, which sounds like a “saw being sharpened on a whetting stone.” Drumlin Farm participates in banding projects in the fall, and the owls are caught by playing a tape of saw-whet calls that lures them into a net. Listen to a recordings of different saw-whet owl calls from the Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

When raising young, the male exclusively hunts and the female exclusively incubates and cares for the babies. The female leaves the nest when the youngest is 18 days old, but the male continues to bring food to the owlets for the next 10-14 days, until the babies fledge. During this time without the mother, the previously spotless nest turns into a pigsty, with feces, pellets, and rotting prey parts. Occasionally, when prey is plentiful, males have broods with multiple females at the same time.

Participants in a children’s program pose with a saw-whet owl from our Wildlife Care facility.

You can experience saw-whet owls for yourself during our adult program, An Evening with Saw-whet Owls. You will get to know New England’s smallest native owl with a short discussion and slideshow before heading out for some banding! Register online today to secure your spot, or call our program registrar at 781-259-2206.

Guest author Libby Koger is a Drumlin Farm volunteer. Information from: Recording from the Macaulay Library, at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Information from:


Barred Owls

cozy barredBarred owls are mottled brown and white, and have dark brown eyes. They usually live in old forests, because there is a wide variety of prey and the trees are large enough for nesting. They also often live near water, be it a stream or a swamp.

Barred owls eat a variety of animals, like mice, rabbits, amphibians, reptiles and fish. Barred owls either dive for fish or wade in the shallows and catch them. They usually hunt at night. Sometimes, they store their food and eat it during the day.

These owls don’t migrate, and rarely even leave their territory. They are quite aggressive towards intruders. While their nests are vulnerable to hawks, raccoons, weasels, and other owls, adult barred owls are only threatened by Great Horned Owls.

Their call is famous for sounding like “Who cooks for you?” Make sure you listen for it on your next nature walk!


Guest author Libby Koger is a Drumlin Farm volunteer. Information from: Recording from the Macaulay Library, at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Back to School—Nature Style!

preschool ok by PaulaSeptember is right around the corner, which means it’s back-to-school time! We’re excited to welcome a new crop of students to our Drumlin Farm Community Preschool, but they aren’t the only ones who can enjoy our outdoor classroom—there are plenty of opportunities for everyone to learn at Drumlin Farm.

Check out our program catalog and find the fall and winter programs that satisfy your nature craving. Here’s a sampling of this season’s offerings:

Farm and Nature 101 (for your youngsters)

class 300

  • Chickadee Birders: Bird Banding– students in grades 2-5 will head out to our banding station in Uxbridge to band songbirds as they migrate south for the winter
  • Tales & Trails– listen to animal stories, then go searching for the animals along our trails
  • Trucks, Tractors, & Tools– get a behind-the-scenes look at the tools and machines that help us finish our farm chores
  • Little Red Hen– read the story of The Little Red Hen, then make some bread of your own and visit our hens, too

Find more great children and family programs in our online program catalog!

Extracurricular Activities (for your teens and tweens)

Teen and goat cropped

Find more great teen programs in our online program catalog!

Lifelong Learning (for the grown-ups)

canned jars

  • Shorebirds Simplified– learn to recognize common shorebirds with confidence using flock patterns, size, shape, habitat, and behavior
  • Saw-whet Owl Banding– join us at Lookout Rock in Northbridge to help capture and band saw-whet owls while learning about the national network of banding stations and the data they collect
  • Wild Color: Natural Dyes & More– explore the origins of natural dyes, mordants (for setting dyes), and modfiers, collect materials to start dye pots, and create samples to take home in this two-part class
  • Jams, Jellies, & Compotes– learn to turn fresh fruit into jams and jellies that you can enjoy year-round

Find more adult programs in our online program catalog!


You can register for our programs online, or call our program registrar at 781-259-2206. Prefer good old postal service? Pick up a program brochure during your next visit to the farm to find the mail-in form.


Nana’s Eggplant Parmigiana

We grow several varieties of eggplant at Drumlin Farm including black eggplant (the traditional variety), oriental eggplant (long and skinny), and rosa bianca (round and mostly white). Each one is unique in shape and color, but all are equally delicious, whether baked, sautéed, grilled, or roasted.

Can’t decide what to do with your eggplant? Try this recipe for eggplant parmigiana!

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Nana’s Eggplant Parmigiana

Family recipes are known for their ambiguity, and this traditional dish passed down through my family for generations is no exception. Nana’s eggplant recipe is chock full of “a little of this” and “as much of that as you need.” For those of you who need precise measurements, please proceed to your nearest cookbook. Anyone up for a delectable cooking adventure, read on!


  • Eggplant—generally, 2 medium-sized eggplants fill an 8×8 square baking dish. Your quantity depends on the size of your dish and your eggplants.
  • Tomatoes—my Nana uses a 28 oz can of whole tomatoes. You could also start from fresh tomatoes and add tomato juice, salt, and basil to make the marinara.
  • Basil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • garlic powder
  • About 1 cup of flour
  • 2-3 eggs per eggplant
  • Grated Parmesan cheese
  • Shredded or sliced mozzarella cheese
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and black pepper to taste


Prepare the Eggplant

  1. Peel your eggplants and cut into thin, even, round slices.
  2. Lay them flat between layers of paper towel. Cover with a final paper towel, and press your eggplant slices with something heavy for at least 4 hours. This step is crucial for taking out the moisture that makes eggplant bitter. Stacks of cookbooks, a full tea kettle, or kitchen appliances work well. If you can, leave them to press overnight—the more water your press out, the less bitter the eggplant will be.

Make Marinara

  1. Saute your onions in about 2 tbs of olive oil.
  2. Puree the tomatoes until no chunks remain. Once your onions are translucent, add the tomato purée.
  3. Add garlic powder, salt, and basil to taste. My Nana adds “a lot” of garlic powder, which I imagine to be 6-7 shakes of the bottle.
  4. Simmer on low for 25 minutes.


Fry the Eggplant

  1. Whisk the eggs with Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper to make an egg dip. Put the flour into a separate small bowl nearby for dusting. Alternatively, you can put the flour in a Ziploc bag and use the “shake method” to dust several slices at once.
  2. Add enough olive oil to cover the bottom of your frying pan “without drowning the eggplant slices.” It’s a little less than a 1/4 inch layer. Heat the oil on medium heat.
  3. When the oil is ready, (“you’ll know by flicking a tiny amount of flour into the pan—if it sizzles, the oil is ready”) dust the eggplant with flour, then coat with the egg dip, and add to the pan. It helps to prepare several slices in the egg dip at once before moving them to the frying pan so that they all fry at the same time.
  4. Fry each slice for 1-2 minutes on each side until the outside is a light golden brown.
  5. Lay finished eggplant on more sheets of paper towel to soak up extra oil.
  6. Repeat until all the slices are fried. You may need to add more oil to the pan, more eggs to your egg dip, or more flour to your bowl as you see fit.


Put it all together

  1. Layer the eggplant with marinara and mozzarella cheese in your baking dish. My Nana uses sliced cheese, but here I used the shredded kind.
  2. Bake for 20 minutes until all the cheese is melted at 350°F.

And voilà! Authentic Italian eggplant parmigiana. Enjoy!

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Meet Samson

Meet the newest addition to the farmyard—Samson!

SamsonSamson is a domestic rabbit brought to Drumlin Farm with the hope of increasing opportunities for our program participants to touch and interact with our animals. He is still in training, but we are very excited to add Samson to our on-site and outreach programs.

For now, you can visit Samson at the Poultry House. Be sure to stop by on your next visit to welcome Samson to Drumlin Farm!


Eastern Screech Owl

photo by susan coe - eastern screech owl fledglings, have permission to useThe Eastern screech owl is found “wherever there are trees,” from woods to parks to your backyard.

Eastern screech owl pairs usually nest together for life. However, occasionally a male will mate with two females. The second female will usually evict the first and raise both sets of eggs as her own. With that being said, there have been instances of two females and a male all nesting together.

Owlets fledge after about 30 days, but, as they are developing their flying and hunting techniques, they continue to rely on their parents for food for the next 8-10 weeks.

Very well camouflaged to look like tree bark by their gray or reddish-brown feathers, screech owls are much easier to spot by sound than by sight. They make a distinctive “trilling or whinnying” sound. Hear it for yourself on the recording below from the Macaulay Library, at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology!

Screech owls eat many different insects, small mammals, and songbirds. Starlings, Blue Jays, and Chickadees sometimes purposely annoy the nearby screech owls to displace them. They often succeed, thereby alerting all the other birds in the area to the presence of the owls.

Guest author Libby Koger is a Drumlin Farm volunteer. Information from:


Lowell Pond Explorations

Students from the Shaughnessy School in Lowell are participating in a summer Service Learning Project at East Pond. This project, developed in partnership with the Lowell Parks & Conservation Trust and the City of Lowell Public Schools, engages 3rd and 4th graders in hands-on science as they make observations, perform basic tests, and report their results.

Check out the SuAsCo River Schools Network blog to see what observations the students are making, and find updates on their progress through the summer!

This program is funded in part by the Massachusetts Cultural Council Youthreach Initiative.

Mass Cultural Council