Category Archives: News

Crops Update: Preparing for Frost

If not tonight, then by the weekend, we’re expecting the first light frost of the season. We take the forecasted low and subtract ten to account for the farm’s frost pocket. This means that in the week ahead it’s all hands on deck for what may be the closing bean, pepper, eggplant, summer squash and tomato harvests of the year. And while there is a mountain of work to get through this week, the Crops team has one less farmer, as Jen finished her season with us this past Friday. Jen accepted a job helping underserved communities in the Berkshires access public transportation. We will miss her steady presence on the team and wish her all the best. Given that, we’re really looking forward to having the help of our first corporate volunteer groups of the season later in the week, and we’re hoping to see some of our committed community volunteers on Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon to help with these important harvests. Last Friday afternoon, we had wonderful volunteer help throughout the tomato and bean harvest, and then some people stayed, while even more arrived, for a total of nine volunteers on the evening flower harvest. Their good work helped us reach a season’s high in flower sales at Saturday’s market. Below you can see volunteer Nancy surrounded by a portion of that enormous flower harvest at Drumlin’s farmstand on Saturday morning.  

While Nancy was making bouquets to order for farm visitors, seven more volunteers fanned out across the acorn squash patch and helped us bring them in before the arrival of another cool evening. Temperatures below 50 can cause chilling injury to squash and pumpkins, so it felt good to get the very last of this year’s crop into the greenhouse just in time. Acorn squash will be in this week’s CSA share, along with peppers, tomatoes, and some really nice carrots you can see lined-up below. We need to cut the tops off the carrots since we’ve sprayed the ferns with repellant to keep the deer away, and lining them up helps speed that process. The twine fence you see around the carrot patch is an added measure of protection against the ten deer we’re seeing on a regular basis in the field (4 does, 6 bucks).  

One crop family the Drumlin deer leave alone is brassicas—broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, etc. Turkeys will occasionally eat brassica leaves, but its main pests are cabbage loopers and aphids. We spray organically certified bacterias to help control loopers, and for aphids, we seed cilantro in the patches and let it flower. The white flowers attract insects that also eat aphids. The flowering cilantro is taller than the already tall Brussels sprouts (we seeded the cilantro in the same week we transplanted the Brussels). On the soil you can see the top growth of the plants that we’ve just cut away to encourage the sizing-up of the sprouts—it’s like removing the garlic scape to boost bulb size. With this one bed of sprouts, we’re about two weeks too late with topping. But we’ll be able to compare sprout size in this bed with three others we topped earlier in the season.

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Crops Update: Thank You’s from a Secret Admirer

I’m not saying the farm truck doesn’t need a good cleaning-out, it’s just that we really need all that stuff to do our jobs: gloves, scallion trimmers, bands, bug spray, sunscreen, Tyvek tape, rain jacket, and hermit bars (thanks Mom!). What’s more–we need that envelope on the dash containing a letter we recently received  from a CSA member—but don’t know who—which we’ve been passing around and re-reading:

Dear Drumlin Team, In this peculiar pandemic period, there’s something deeply reassuring about Mother Earth and her cornucopia of green, red & yellow goodness courtesy of your hard work. All week, I look forward to the ritual of receiving from your generous hands a box of healthy food. The quality of your produce is astonishing—gleaming, ripe, beautiful, curvy, wavy, crunchy, delicious. I don’t like not meeting you, thanking you. The touch-free handoff feels alien! Nonetheless, my gratitude is greater, surpasses our restraints. Thank you for the care with which you pick, sort, wash, pack. For the weeds beat back. For the heat endured. For the sweat running down your back. Thank you for saving our summer, bring us joy from the earth. Respectfully.

Whoever you are, thank you so much for taking the time to write that! It’s an amazing group of farmers, volunteers, and Audubon staff members who together make the CSA Farmshare happen from week to week, and they all deserve to hear your moving words, to be reminded of why we do this work.

This is the last week for the summer CSA, and next week begins the fall program. Fall members will enjoy the end of what has been a stellar tomato and melon season, and a bountiful potato and winter squash harvest will provide good eating through Thanksgiving. There are still some spots open for our fall share, so join today if you haven’t already, and help us spread the word to others that may be interested!

Out in the fields we’re hoeing fall carrots and greens, bringing in the last of the winter squash (two varieties to go!) and preparing fields for cover cropping. Two days of rain last week means we expect to have a steady supply of field greens through frost!

Your Farmers

Crops Update: Double Rainbow Moments

A few teasing thunderstorms last week brought a faint double rainbow on Wednesday evening, but little in the way of rain. Then, Sunday afternoon, it finally poured! Peppers, eggplant, cauliflower, and cabbage had been wilting in the drought and not producing much. Hopefully, in a week or so, we’ll see an improvement in harvests of these crops. Beans, tomatoes, beets, watermelon, and cantaloupe have been thriving in the drought, and we expect to continue picking lots of each in the week ahead.

We’re now harvesting from the second succession of watermelons, so we get to savor our three favorite varieties all over again starting with the small, round, pink-fleshed Mini Love, moving on to the personal-sized, zeppelin-shaped Dark Belle, and finishing with Shiny Boy, striped, bullet-proof medicine balls. On Saturday morning, Paige (taught by Margot, who was taught by Fred) taught Nina how to move and install electric fencing, and together they protected watermelons #2 from the deer and coyotes that have already started breaking them open and eating them up. Deer continue to be our primary pest problem, and, over the past two days, we’ve been forced into an early harvest of all pumpkins and most of the winter squash.

The drought caused early die-back of the vines, and the deer have taken advantage of the easy access and visibility to browse the rows, biting hundreds of squash and pumpkins only once or twice, rather than eating all of a few like a respectful pest might. We estimate we’ve lost 15% of the butternut squash and pumpkin crop to deer, but about 40% of the butternuts have scarring from shallow deer bites. In the foreground, above, you can see piles of bitten squash we had to leave behind this past Saturday afternoon. The team stayed late that day to move the butternut into the greenhouse, and we wouldn’t have gotten as much done without the help of volunteers Nathan and Jake. Thanks all for doing the heavy lifting in the heat and humidity! This morning, we finished salvaging the pumpkins and then moved on to some new varieties of winter squash we’re trialing this year like the warty Black Futsu you can see in the foreground below.

Also on Saturday, we had a successful Somerville market at Union Square thanks to help from some additional volunteers, and a busy day of sales at the Drumlin farmstand. There, the volunteer trio of Basha, Nancy and Richard (from L to R above) are now teaming up on a regular basis. Thanks to help from volunteers Linda and Leah, we were able to open the farmstand for the first time this year on Sunday as well. Both have run the farmstand in years past, so with a little training on the new technology from Visitor Services staffer Marcia, they were prepared to begin selling again putting to good use their familiarity with more unusual crops like ground cherries.  

So, visitors now have access to our food on Saturdays and Sundays, and more people are getting involved in the process of selling and producing it. When I farmed for a nonprofit on Long Island, a neighboring large-scale potato producer would object that our CSA didn’t “feed the world” like a real farm. Perhaps he meant we didn’t put bags of potatoes on shelves in grocery stores the world over. Yes, we are not commodity farmers, but community-based ones who endeavor to promote health, both environmental and individual, through meaningful work and delicious, beautiful food. And we’re trying to engage as many people as possible in all parts of the process, from camp kids picking cherry tomatoes (thanks for the one hundred pounds this past Friday!) to volunteers like Jake and Christine whose continuing connection to Drumlin began with a commuter rail ride to Lincoln to help us plant garlic last fall. Check out Christine’s wonderful retelling of that experience in her recently published comic.

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Walking Though Forest

Take a Family Tour of the Metro West Outdoors

As we adjust to new safe, meaningful ways to interact with nature, a new opportunity has bloomed for families in the Metro West area. Family groups of up to ten can now take private, guided tours of Drumlin Farm, Broadmoor, and Habitat Wildlife Sanctuaries.

A Mass Audubon Naturalist (masked and with appropriate social distancing) will lead your group on a two-hour exploration of your sanctuary of choice, guiding you through hands-on investigations of plants and animals, and observing and explaining ecosystem interactions and characteristics. Chose one of the offered themes, or customize one to your group’s interests. Optional activities for children such as scavenger hunts, nature drawing, movement activities, or story creation can also be arranged. Take a break from the screens with a safe, energizing trip through the great outdoors!

Broadmoor Wildlife Sanctuary, Natick

An expansive retreat along Indian Brook and the Charles River, Broadmoor is an ever-changing environment teeming with wildlife: dragonflies darting, turtles basking, otters leaving tracks in the mud, and more than 150 species of birds. Easy-to-moderate well-groomed trails lead you through the shade of mature woodlands into open fields and along the edges of streams, ponds, and marshland. 

Themes: The Wonders of the Marsh, Field Mysteries, Into the Woods

Availability: Tuesdays–Fridays, August 4–September 16

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Habitat Wildlife Sanctuary, Belmont

Four miles of gentle trails wind through deciduous and evergreen forests, across meadows, and around ponds and vernal pools at Habitat, located just seven miles from downtown Boston. Stop by and say hello to our family of goats on your trip!

Themes: Meadow Investigations, Pond Probe, Birds, Reptiles & Amphibians, Predator or Prey, Fairy Houses & Gnome Homes

Availability: Monday–Friday, August 3–October 16

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Drumlin Farm Wildlife Sanctuary, Lincoln

At Drumlin Farm, you can experience life on a working farm and explore a wildlife sanctuary at the same time. Watch the pigs, sheep, goats, chickens, and cows in the farmyard; see how crops are sustainably grown; walk the trails explore field, forest, and wetland habitat; and observe resident owls, hawks, and a fox in the native wildlife exhibit. 

Themes: Farm Chores, Pond Explorations, Habitat Hike

Availability: Monday–Friday, September 14–December 18

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Squash

Crops Update: Persevering through Drought & Deer

What a relief the past two cloudy, 70 degree days have been! Last week was a real trial for plants and farmers alike with several days in the 90s and the soil surface completely dried out and often hot to the touch. Nina described kneeling on the ground during the drought and heatwave as similar to dipping your foot into too hot bath water: you retreat and then try again after mentally preparing yourself for some pain. Many, many thanks to the team and volunteers who continued to get the job done under these challenging conditions!

Above, you can see the effects of the drought in the winter squash patch. Despite the early die-back of the vines, it looks like the plants got enough moisture when they needed it, and we have a huge crop. With the vines no longer protecting some of the squash, we’ll start bringing them into the greenhouse this week when we’re not harvesting tomatoes and melons.

Betting on the forecast finally being accurate, we seeded a half-acre to greens and turnips yesterday afternoon. And, after 13 frustrating days without rain, we got about a quarter-inch last night. Hooray! Last week, we had to skip our weekly seeding of greens and radish, because, given how hot and dry it’s been, it would have been a waste of seed and time. The turnips you see germinating above were seeded two days before our last precipitation from Isaias on August 4. It’s amazing to witness what the Drumlin soil can do with so little water.

The fall kale and broccoli patch you see above is bordered on the left by the second-to-last succession of summer squash, and all of it was planted by the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) on July 18. We’ve had less than an inch of rain since that day, so it must be the high percentage of organic matter in the soil that’s retaining moisture down below and supporting these beautiful plants. Kate from AMC brought another group of volunteers to the farm this past Saturday, and they finally got to work with us on a reasonably cool day. Together, we planted 3,200 lettuce seedlings before harvesting some cherry tomatoes. We donated those to Concord Open Table the following day. Volunteers from Concord Open Table now pick up donations from Drumlin twice per week, and we continue to deliver produce to food for free every Thursday as part of our restaurant route.  

If you’ve wondered about all the additional fencing in the fields, the berserk deer population is the explanation. In addition to battling the extreme weather, we’re fighting the deer for our food. They’re trying to eat melons, chard, lettuce, beets, carrots, and sweet potatoes, and we’re responding with a combination of electric fences, repellant sprays, and small sections of twine fences. At the farmstand, you may have noticed umbrellas, a black shade cloth, and up in the rafters, an enormous, white, kite-shaped cloth, all put in place by Property Manager Geoff to help keep the sun from baking volunteers and veggies in the CSA farm share boxing area. Geoff also cleared brush from along the back of the farmstand to provide more space for people to spread out on Wednesdays while weighing and bagging produce. Thanks very much Geoff for helping us stay cool and for helping keep the produce as fresh as possible!

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Tomatoes

Crops Update: Hot Weather & Flavorful Yields

The First Winter Squashes

It’s looking like fall in the greenhouse with the arrival of the season’s first winter squash: Sunshine orange kabocha. We harvested them last Thursday as soon as we saw the vines dying back leaving the fruit exposed. If we can detect orange in the field, so can the deer, and the deer love to bite into all types of winter squash, especially the orange kabocha and pumpkins. Those are storage onions you see drying on the benches around the crates of squash below, and those seedling trays behind them hold the second-to-last lettuce planting of 2020.

Lower & Lean

With transplanting nearly complete, we are spending most of our time weeding beds and harvesting melons, potatoes, peppers, and tomatoes. In the hoophouse, the cherry tomato vines are over twenty feet tall, so it’s time to “lower and lean” them. We get up on the ladder, clip the top growth to the twine, then let out three or four turns on the spool allowing the whole plant to sit down. Then we lean the plants to the side by jumping the spools to an adjacent zip tie or by sliding the tie along a truss. The lean provides easier access to the fruit and prevents a crimp from forming at the base of the vine. The red Sakuras on the right have been lowered and leaned, while the orange Golden Sweets on the left await their turn.

Why Are Our Crops So Flavorful?

Out in the field it’s hot and dry. You can check out your town’s drought status too–if looking at the powdery soil or your burnt lawn is not informative enough! Hurricane Isaias blew down some of our tall flowers and brought a little rain, but we’ll need more precipitation to ensure a bountiful fall harvest. In the meantime, we’re wearing our hats (check out Greg’s superb chapeau below) and enjoying the intensity of flavors in melons and tomatoes brought out by these extreme weather conditions. Jill’s theory is that our field cherry tomatoes taste better than those from the hoophouse because those in the field are not irrigated. If true, that would be the first on-farm example of something we’ve been saying for years: Drumlin produce tastes this good because it’s not watered- down. But the hoophouse cherries are also more fibrous than those from the field, which is strange considering that the fall and winter hoophouse greens were far more tender than their field counterparts.

Extreme Weather

Leaving aside the mystery of the watered hoophouse cherry tomatoes, we know for certain that we need more water on crops in the field! And some days not in the 90s would be much appreciated. This past Friday, we had to harvest the watermelon and cantaloupe first thing in the morning just to keep the fruit cool. We then stored them under tents (pictured above) to keep the sun off until we had a chance to wash and load them into the box truck and walk-in cooler. We’re doing our best not to overburden the under-sized reefer unit on the market truck, and if you let the sun hit the melons for any length of time, you wind up with dozens of molten crates radiating heat for the rest of the day.

Volunteers Needed

While it’s hot out there under the August sun, amazingly, volunteers continue to come and help us harvest in the fields and box CSA shares at the admissions area. But some of our regular community volunteers are beginning to quarantine themselves in preparation for college, so we’ll be needing more help through the fall. If you’ve been considering volunteering at the farm, now would be a perfect time. It’s a great way to get out, meet other masked people, and join in meaningful work that supports Mass Audubon’s conservation goals. In the past, at the end of August volunteer sessions, we’d gather round and cut into some watermelons and cantaloupe. Now we just send volunteers home with a melon to enjoy later. It’s different, but everyone who helps should know the sweetness they make possible.

Your Farmers

Garlic

Crops Update: Garlic Harvest

We’re at that moment in the season right before tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, melons, cauliflower, and corn arrive. We’ll likely be picking the first eggplant and sweet corn by the end of the week.

Vampires Beware

Before extended harvest days begin—when we’re harvesting all morning and most of the afternoon—it’s time to bring in the garlic. Last Friday, volunteers picked green beans for market before pulling and cleaning a bed of garlic. This year, we’re cutting the stem and the roots in the field, and then power washing the bulbs on trays. Thanks to Margot, Jen, and Paige for handling the washing part of the process. Once washed, we crate the garlic and carry it to the barn loft where we spread it out on benches to dry (above). On Saturday, volunteers pulled and prepared another bed and a half of garlic. We still have over half the patch to go, and that’s what we’ll be focused on in the week ahead. That, and transplanting out the fall brassicas: kale, collards, kohlrabi, and Gilfeather turnips.

Squash Plants

This is also the moment in the season when the winter squash plants vine out and close the field to tractor access (above). We’ll wade out into the waist-deep vines to pull weeds if we have to, but the goal is to control weeds by preparing the beds in advance (known as stale bedding) and then cultivating regularly as the plants grow. Ideally, the next time we’re in the winter squash field will be for the September harvest. Beyond the squash, you can see a fallow field seeded to oats and peas, and beyond that, the first sweet corn of the season! This is also the point in the season when things start to break down—bolts come loose, ropes fray, plastic snaps. And it’s true that a roll of duct tape is often the most useful tool in the tool box!

Farmstand Open for Business

We’ve opened the Lincoln farmstand to visitors the past two Saturdays. Volunteers Richard and Nancy Allen have been running the show, and they’re doing this in addition to boxing CSA shares and cutting flowers on Wednesdays. We are so grateful to have their help! At market, Jill and Margaret have been doing a wonderful job selling to customers, and the new Square platform is giving us information about sales that we used to only guess at. We were surprised to learn that the top earner at this past market was edible flower bouquets: calendula, bachelor buttons, snapdragons, and dianthus.

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lamb

Virtu-wool-apalooza!

While we can’t gather in person to celebrate our favorite fiber-festival of the year, we hope you can still join us virtually to learn more about the story from sheep-to-sweater, shop local fiber vendors, and enjoy some of our favorite Woolapalooza moments through the years.

In Massachusetts, sheep are raised on small family farms in flocks of varying sizes, ranging from a few ewes up to about 400 on the largest sheep farm. Sheep do well on Massachusetts land and require very little labor to produce a quality product that fits well with the New England climate. They’re also considered good for the environment and can help improve the ecosystem when managed with sustainable agriculture principles. Sheep are the perfect tool for controlling weeds and brush, helping land managers avoid mechanical and chemical means of control. They work so well that corporate and government land managers have adopted or hired flocks to help in reforested areas, watersheds, ski slopes and under power lines. You’ll often see our sheep in different fields throughout the year, doing their part to keep the pastures free of over-growth.

The Sheep-to-Sweater Process

Each year, master sheep shearer Kevin performs our shearing, removing each sheep’s wool with large hand-held shears. The wool is removed in one piece, called a fleece. Sheep are usually shorn in the spring, when they can survive without their warm coat. The fleece is then spread out and skirted, a process that removes large pieces of soiled wool, hay, etc. Each fleece weighs 8-14 pounds fresh off the sheep, and a 10-pound fleece might weigh only half that after it’s washed to remove the lanolin and soil!

After the fleece is washed, it’s then carded, which involves combing the clean, dry wool to straighten the fibers. Every wool fiber is a molecular coil-spring covered with microscopic scales. The springiness of the individual fibers can be seen in the curliness of a sheep’s fleece.  

The carded wool can then be spun on a wheel, where the fibers are drawn out and twisted together to form yarn. Wool clothing is highly durable, easily dyeable, breathable and temperature regulating, resists wrinkles and retains shape, flame resistant, and naturally water repellent. It truly is an amazing fiber!

Shop Fiber Vendors

Please support our amazing local fiber vendors who annually make Woolapalooza such a special event:

Our Favorite Woolapalooza Moments

Wool Crafts at Home

Get hands-on with wool and learn something new! Try out these step-by-step tutorials on wool-based crafts:

Lambing & Kidding Updates

As lambing and kidding season begins, so far we have had two baby goats and one lamb arrive on the farm. Like and follow our Facebook and Instagram pages for more updates as the season progresses!

Child stepping over log

Home-based Activities for Families

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed many things in our daily lives. For young children, this change in routine can be unsettling and confusing, but creating some predictable structure in the day can provide a sense of safety and security for the whole family. As we all adjust to balancing the many aspects of our world from home, our Drumlin Farm Community Preschool Team would like to share a variety of fun learning activities that you can do with your child(ren) and family which you may find helpful and inspiring. Engage with nature where you can, create some art for your community, design experiments, or find a new recipe to cook together–there’s something for everyone!

Wishing you and your family wellness and health,

Jill Canelli

Drumlin Farm Community Preschool Director

© Emily Haranas

Be a Nature Hero

  • Conduct a bird count of what you can see/hear in your neighborhood. How many of each kind of bird do you observe?  Can you find one new bird each day?  Learn how to identify common birds in Massachusetts at this time of year.
© Patrick Rogers

Think Critically & Get Active

  • First brainstorm a list of sounds (ex: bird songs, wind, water, insect songs, frogs, dogs barking, cars, planes, people’s voices, etc.). Then, listen closely and see how many you can check off and hear on a walk or just outside your door!
  • 3 Changes Game: closely observe your partner, before they leave the room and change three things about their appearance (might be putting their hair up, untieing a shoe, or taking off a sweater). When the partner comes back, try to guess what is different.
  • Mapmaking: make a map of your room, house, or garden. Try to make it as accurate as possible. To take it a step further, hide a treasure somewhere and try to find it with the map!
  • Plan, prepare and cook a meal with your child. Whether your child helps you make that first cup of coffee or you pick a recipe to make together there is so much fun and learning in these everyday activities. Measure ingredients, practice cutting skills, discuss the farm-to-table journey, and enjoy something delicious you made together!
  • Give children the opportunity to help with jobs around the house, a great way to use fine and gross motor skills, and also contribute to meaningful work in the family: sweeping, dusting, folding laundry, and loading the dishwasher, or any outdoor tasks such as raking, collecting sticks or trash in the yard, or weeding also are also great ways to use their muscles. Try making a game out of the task or listen to music while working to keep them engaged!
  • Obstacle Courses: create them inside or in your backyard using cones/yogurt containers for zig-zagging, boxes for climbing through or over, buckets for filling with water, hard-boiled eggs with spoons for balancing, chalk for paths on the driveway–you name it! Use your imagination to create different challenges.
  • Create stacked rock cairns in your yard or garden. Gather a variety of rocks, and stack them in a pile, using a larger, flat stone for the base. Experiment with different shapes and stones and see how high you can stack them.

© Patrick Rogers

Get Creative

  • Make cards, write notes, and draw pictures to mail to friends and family or safely drop them by your neighbors’ house. Now is a great time to start communicating with a pen pal!
  • Bring sketch pads or clipboards with watercolor/crayons/colored pencils outside for nature drawing. Flowers, bugs, bird feeders, and trees all make great inspiration! 
  • Flower Printing/Dying: press flowers and plants between books to flatten and preserve them–they can be used in papermaking or bookmarks!
  • Book Writing: put together your own short story! To make it more fun, pose the story around a question about nature, such as “Why do skunks smell?”  Or “why do bears have a short tail?”
  • Paint rocks to make a rock garden.
  • Make shadow puppets: cut shapes/animals out of black paper and tape them to popsicle sticks or chopsticks. They can be used outside by hanging a sheet or on the ground, or inside with a desk lamp onto a wall.

© Patrick Rogers

Practice Sciences

  • Salt Dough: 2 parts flour, 1 part salt, and 1 part water. Add food coloring to color and create different characters by rolling out and cutting with cookie cutters.  To harden and paint, cook at 250 degrees until hard (about 2 hours).
  • Plant Olympics: beans of any variety work well for this, but for more fun, get different types and try different kinds of races.  Everyone in the family can plant some seeds in dixie cups, cardboard egg cartons, peat pots, or make your own pots out of newspaper. Your Olympic events could include the earliest sprouter, tallest plant, biggest leaves, first to bloom, most productive (how much fruit/flower/veg does it produce?), and more.  Don’t forget to make a chart to keep track of the results/winners. You can even make winning metals (cut out of cereal boxes or other thin cardboard and decorate)!
  • Design Experiments & Collect Data: next time your child has an unanswerable question, prompt them to collect, record, and interpret data. Which toy truck is the fastest? Which room in the house is the biggest? Will this orange sink or float? The only limit is your imagination!

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 .