Author Archives: Staff

Drumlin Farm Crops Update Vol. 2

by Crops Manager Matt Celona

April Showers vs. Last Summer’s Drought

Of late, several people have asked how many inches of rain we’ve been getting in all these storms. “Thankfully, enough,” I tell them. Enough for us to think about things other than putting out the rain gauge to measure our rising level of anxiety as precipitation dwindles! Let’s not do that again until we have to. And what did all our worrying during last year’s drought amount to? The crops that could thrive in the drought did so, while other crops suffered. We had done our best by way of caring for the soil, fallowing fields and building soil organic matter, and we continue our commitment to this system.

Chickens on the Move

Thanks to the efforts of Livestock Manager Caroline and her assistant Alyssa, we’ve now introduced chickens into our fallowing plan so as to further improve the soil. You’ll see two mobile chicken tractors in the resting field near the entrance to Boyce. Our hens are eating insects and helping limit pest pressure while also processing the clover we planted there two seasons ago. Hopefully sheep will follow hens in the field and further enliven the soil.

Greens, Greens, and More Greens

So while we’re not worrying about water, we are thinking a lot about how to get the greens to grow faster in this cool weather so as to supply chefs, the Union Square Farmers Market in Somerville and our new spring CSA program.  Early lettuce and spinach are on the cusp of being ready for harvest, so this past Saturday, Josh, Will and I hand-weeded to make future harvests more efficient.

While we were killing weeds on Saturday, Sarah, Laura, and Avril were killing it at market. Nice work market team! Last year, Sarah introduced the market loyalty program for Somerville patrons. It’s a version of CSA where a customer commits money up front in return for a discount on produce and flowers. Sarah also experimented with bringing lots of greenhouse-grown microgreens to that first market, and they were a big hit.

Killdeer in the Field

In birding news, we’ve marked two killdeer nests that really good parent birds brought to our attention. In both cases, a parent aggressively marched toward the approaching tractor instead of just leaping up at the crucial final moment, as is more often the case. Two days after noting the nests, we saw six hatchlings scurrying around. We assume that must be the result of an additional two nests because we’ve never seen more than four eggs in one nest. But we have no idea where they came from. The parents are still sitting on the two nests they helped us identify.

Perhaps by next week, the mystery will be solved.

See you in the field,

Your Farmers

Last-Minute Mother’s Day Gifts at Drumlin Farm

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day.

[Pause for gasp]

Here’s what to do:

1. Drive to 208 South Great Road in Lincoln, MA.

2. Walk to the admissions window.

3. Ask to see the selection of cow milk soap ($3–4.50 depending on the weight). Pick 2 or 3 of your favorites.

4. Grab a wool skein while you’re at it ($10).

5. Put it all in a Drumlin Farm tote bag ($5).

You’re welcome.

7 Things To Do at Drumlin Farm: May 12–19

Katrin Roush

Don’t let this weekend’s grey skies block your view of what looks to be a spring-tastic forecast for next week. We have things for you to do while you’re staying cozy at home (Especially on Sunday. Yikes.) and when you finally emerge next week.

7 Things to Do at Drumlin Farm this Week

1. As you watch the rain (and favorite Netflix/HBO/Amazon/Hulu series) plan ahead for our Summer Concert Series. With Katrin Roush, Damn Tall Buildings, and Lula Wiles lined up to play at the farm this summer, tickets are sure to sell fast!

2. While you’re multitasking, sign up for our Summer CSA. Here’s the math on that: $33.75 per week for enough sustainably farmed veggies to feed a family of four. Take that, Whole Paycheck.

3. Be a farmer for a day and learn how we keep our livestock happy in this family favorite: Afternoon Chores and More. Pro tip: Bring rain gear and be prepared to puddle hop.

4. Take advantage of the first sunny, warm day in who-knows-how-long during our Tuesday Evening Birding excursion. It starts at 5:30, so chances are the sunset will be epic.

5. Meet our new kids! They. Are. So. Cute.

6. Fact: Spring allergies are a drag. Fact: There are herbs that can help. Take our Aromatherapy & Tinctures class and blend your own essential oils to fight the itchy eyes and sniffles.

7. Fingers crossed that the sunshine holds up through next Friday, because our first Friday Evening Hayride and Campfire is at 4:00! If you can’t make it by 4:00, there’s another one at 6:00.

Drumlin Farm Crops Update: Welcome, New Farmers!

by Crops Manager Matt Celona

Welcome, New Farmers!

We have new farmers to introduce to you! Beginning Farmers Avril and Will, as well as part-time Fieldworkers Andrew and Laura. And welcome back to Sarah and Josh!

Avril studied computer science as an undergraduate and graduate at MIT before working in text analytics for four years. She had been volunteering with gardening and food access organizations for the past two years before deciding to give crop production a try. Avril will be assisting Josh with all aspects of sales to chefs.

Will is a recent graduate of Colby College. He was working as an intern at Merrill Lynch before deciding to invest more deeply (yep) in farming. Will had spent all of his high school summers working at the Food Project with Tim Laird, former Crops Manager here at Drumlin, so he is already familiar with some of the systems Tim put in place here years ago.  Sarah will be relying on Will for help coordinating our CSA programs.

Andrew recently graduated from Hobart College where he majored in environmental studies. He is passionate about sustainability, and his most recent job was assessing energy management systems for companies looking to reduce their carbon footprints. Andrew will be helping us on our busiest harvest days.

Laura is a glass fabrication artist and graduate of the Mass College of Art. She has a vision of having her own farm one day, and, in addition to helping with harvests, she will be organizing the Friday flower harvest and making bouquets at market.

I feel really lucky to be working with this group of talented and dedicated people. Thanks, all, for your great work!

Volunteers Already Putting In Hours

Over the past several days we’ve focused on planting onions and are about to finish the marathon in record time—only 3 of the 65 trays remain!  We’ve been getting lots of help from high school seniors who are doing service projects with us—many thanks to them!

Volunteers from National Grid were the first to help us in the field this past Thursday. On that cool and rainy-ish day, the job was to rescue baby carrots from a carpet of weeds—not an easy task in the best of conditions. But as is most often the case, the volunteers seemed thrilled to be outside and willing to keep working in the conditions.

Volunteer Fred Costanza has been maintaining equipment, mowing roadways and field edges, and plowing a new section of the Van Leer field. Thank you, Fred!

Union Square Farmers Market Opens Saturday

Our first big harvest is this coming Friday ahead of the first Union Square Farmers Market on Saturday. We hope to see you on opening day!

Your Farmers

10 Things To Do at Drumlin Farm: May 5–12

It’s going to be rainy and cloudy for a while. We think that’s the perfect excuse to get outside—mostly because you will be among the brave few hitting the trails. And tranquility outdoors is always a plus.

Here are 10 ways you can avoid cabin fever in the next week:

1. Brave the rain and walk to the top of the drumlin, one of the highest points in the Greater Boston Area.

2. Get a dose of Drumlin Farm Camp a little early at Camp Day.

3. Head to Boyce Field and see our summer crops beginning to emerge.

4. Take a walk with Ted Elliman, writer of Wildflowers of Massachusetts.

5. Get going on Mother’s Day gifts at The Audubon Shop.

6. Puddle hop your way to New England Wildlife Explorations, where you’ll find our Wildlife Wall and majestic fox.

7. Visit our Farm Stand for wool skeins and soaps. And pick up some breakfast sausage and eggs while you’re at it (perfect for Mother’s Day Brunch, ahem ahem).

8. Birds aren’t only active in the morning! Explore Concord during Tuesday Evening Birding.

9. Bring your young birders to I’m A Little Birdwatcher and get them started on birding basics early.

10. Get a behind-the-scenes look at our big farm equipment at Trucks, Tractors, and Tools.

When Students Become Leaders

We hear it almost every day: Our kids are our future. But what does that mean? What does that look like? And when does a common phrase become a sign of action?

For our TREES (Teens Representing Environmental Excellency and Stewardship) students, that phrase is just one of the many ways to describe what they do during this after-school program at Lowell High School.

On Saturday, March 11, TREES students hosted their first-ever Youth Environmental Conference, inviting teens from the Merrimack River Watershed in Massachusetts to meet, talk, learn, and share ideas about how they can work together to protect the Merrimack River watershed.

“We felt that a conference would be the best setting, giving students an opportunity to meet, share their work, and learn more about our watershed,” said Sarah Silva, TREES student and Lowell High School senior.

Sally Farrow, Drumlin Farm Teacher Naturalist and TREES coordinator, has watched these students grow and learn over the last four years.

“From start to finish, the students led the Youth Environmental Conference,” she said. “We’ve had them since they were freshmen, so we’re witnessing this growth—and that was so inspiring to see. This is what gives me hope.”

To open the conference, TREES students hosted a Jeopardy game to get everyone in the mood for the day’s workshops: Urban Open Spaces, Environmental Careers, Pollution, and Water Testing. Among the workshop leaders was Dai Kim of Mill City Grows, who shared his experience with us:

“The world needs more educators, believers, dreamers, and leaders, and what the Youth Environmental Conference did for me has reinstated my believe that we’re going to be all right.”

Participating in the conference was Concord Carlisle High SchoolGroundwork Lawrence Green Team, Lowell High School Compass W.I.L.D. program, and Girls Go Green from YWCA Lowell.

We would like to thank Lowell High School for hosting this event, and of course to the TREES students! To learn more about our TREES program, contact Sally Farrow: sfarrow@massaudubon.org.

Drumlin Farm Friday to Friday: April 7–14

Now that you’ve had a chance to stay cozy all winter long, it’s time to get out there and explore the changing seasons. So put your hot cocoa back in the cabinet and take a look at our programs coming up this week.

Friday, April 7

Froggy Night Walk | Family | 7 pm
Spring is the time for the evening froggy chorus – who makes that peep-peep-peep? Who has that banjo twang? We’ll take a stroll listening and looking for these nighttime singers.

Saturday, April 8

Birding Basics Field Trip | Adult | 8 am
A fantastic introduction to all of our spring birding programs.

Teen Birders: Eyes on Birds | Teen | 9 am
Learn about bird photography and cover the basics of birding as we get ready for spring migration season.

Sourdough Bread Making | Adult | 1 pm
Learn the age old tradition of sourdough bread making in this hands-on workshop.

Wednesday, April 12

Frog Prince | Family | 3:30 pm
Join us as we tell the tale of The Frog Prince and search ponds and pools for amphibian royalty.

Thursday, April 13

Thursday Morning Bird Walk | Adult | Time TBD
Join us as we explore Drumlin Farm and other local hotspots in search of late-winter and early spring birds. Call 781-259-2200, ext. BIRD (2473) the Wednesday before each program for a recorded listing of the exact time and location

For all of our upcoming programs, visit massaudubon.org/drumlinprograms.

 

2017 Report: Maple Sugaring at Drumlin Farm

Information provided by Sarah Lang, Assistant Farmer

Maple sugaring season has come to a close!

The Numbers

2017
Length of season: 4 weeks
Sap collected: 400 gallons
Syrup produced: 6 gallons
Sap-to-syrup ratio: 67:1

2016
Length of season: 7 weeks
Sap collected: 1300 gallons
Syrup produced: 21.3 gallons
Sap-to-syrup ratio: 61:1

Things to note

  • The normal range for sap-to-syrup ratios is 40–50:1. Last year, Drumlin Farm’s sap-to-syrup ratio was also higher than normal. This is likely due to abnormally warm and erratic weather patterns, which had a big influence on the sugar content of our sap.
  • We tapped about half the amount of trees as we normally do this season to give some of our maple trees a rest.

We’d like to thank our staff and volunteers for helping the sugaring season run smoothly. If you have any questions, please contact Sarah Lang: slang@massaudubon.org.

There are limited quantities of maple syrup available for purchase at the Drumlin Farm admissions window. Grab one on your next visit!

 

Woolapalooza 2017: That’s a Wrap!

We have another Woolapalooza in the books!

While we didn’t get a triplet birth like last year (much to Farmer Caroline’s relief, we’re sure), this year’s Woolapalooza was a huge success. The day started off with a touch of rain, but that didn’t stop more than 1,000 visitors of all ages from lining up for our annual sheep-shearing festival.

Here are some highlights from the day:

Kevin Ford shearing all of our adult sheep.

 

Learning and crafting along the Sheep-to-Sweater Trail

 

Talented fiber artisans from all over Massachusetts.

 

Delicious food.

 

Skillful sheep herding.

 

And of course, the stars of the show: Our lambs!

 

Thank you to all of our volunteers, vendors, sponsors, and staff for another great Woolapalooza. We hope to see you again next year!

Maple Sugaring Update: It’s Warm!

As you enjoy the unseasonably warm temperatures, this thought might be lingering in the back of your head:

Um…It’s February. Shouldn’t it be cold? And what does this mean for the winter activities I love?

For us at the farm, we have to think about how the warm weather might affect our maple sugaring season. Last year, we had an early start due to the mild winter. In the middle of the season, our collecting halted only for a moment, then ideal temperatures started again and we had a longer-than-usual season. We asked Farmer Sarah some questions about what this “spring spell” might mean for this year.

What are the ideal temperatures for maple sugaring?

40 degree days and 20 degree nights.

When did we start tapping the trees at Drumlin Farm this year?

Just before the first big snowfall in January.

How’s the season going so far?

So far the sap flow has been slow. This might be because of the erratic temperature swings, or maybe it has something to do with the drought last summer and the trees being stressed, some combo, or something else entirely.

How might the recent warm temperatures affect our taps?

We might see sap flow stop entirely. This happened in at least one of the warm spells last year. We need hard frosts at night to recharge the sap flow. The flow will start up again if it gets cold again, unless the trees reach the budding stage. If the warm temps continue long enough the trees will bud early, and that’s the end of the sugaring season (chemical changes in the trees/sap cause the sap to turn yellow and taste bad). Snow on the ground also helps prolong the season, so we might see a shorter season if we don’t get more snow.

So while this warm weather might be a relief for the winter blues, we’d like more winter, please! Our Pancake Breakfast could use some Drumlin Farm maple syrup!