A Note from Renata Pomponi, Sanctuary Director

The daily news doesn’t often focus on science, but for a day or two last November, scientific exploration took over the headlines as the InSight Lander arrived on Mars. The first mission designed to probe the interior of another planet, InSight traveled more than 300 million miles over seven months. Watching the livestream of those final moments, my family and I found ourselves cheering along with the engineers in the control room as they celebrated their success.

This type of “Big Science” victory is one that my kids and I will remember for a lifetime. But just as important are the “small science” moments that happen every day: a butterfly emerging from a chrysalis or a snowflake crystalizing on a mitten. When we stop to look, we start to wonder. That wonder can begin as a sense of amazement at the “magic” of nature, especially in our youngest visitors, but it can lead to more when presented as a question: I wonder how that caterpillar transformed into an entirely different creature? I wonder why that snowflake formed so differently from the one next to it?

Major scientific breakthroughs may occur only a few times in our lives, but the natural world offers up daily opportunities for us to question, to think, and to learn. What’s more, having a formal scientific degree or engineering background isn’t a prerequisite, only your own curiosity. You don’t even have to know the “right” answer to your or your child’s question; their asking is the most important part. We hope that the inquiries that start here at Drumlin Farm, whether you experience them on your own or alongside our educators, will bring discovery and delight, along with inspiration for all of us to become strong environmental stewards.

Wishing you a year of small-science wonders,

Renata Pomponi
Drumlin Farm Sanctuary Director

April-September 2019 Program & Events

Our new programs and events catalog for April-September 2019 has arrived, filled with new programs to get you and your family and friends outside exploring. Highlights include:

Meet Our New Camp Director, Meghan Haslam!

We are very pleased to announce that Drumlin Farm Camp has a new Camp Director! Meghan Haslam comes to us with environmental education and camp experience from all over the world and we’re thrilled that she will be joining Zach D’Arbeloff in leading our camp and teen programs here at Drumlin Farm. Her predecessor, Becky Gilles, is now the Camp Director at Mass Audubon’s overnight camp Wildwood.

Meghan began her career in the Peace Corps in Nicaragua, then went on to found and direct the 4 Walls Project, a housing improvement organization. While continuing to live and work in Central America, she managed a range of community and educational programs—including three years as Program Director at Mountain & Sea Spirit Outdoor Adventures School in Tatumbla, Honduras. She then returned to the US to become Director of the 100 Elk Outdoor Center in Buena Vista, Colorado.

Most recently, Meghan oversaw outdoor education and character development programs for young people and adults at North Carolina Outward Bound School as the Program Director of their Table Rock Base Camp in Jonas Ridge, North Carolina.

Get to know Meghan and the adventures that lead her to Drumlin Farm with us…

Meghan hiking the Blue Ridge mountains in North Carolina.

Q: Did you go to camp when you were younger?

A: Yes I did! I attended day camp at Camp Lincoln in NH for years, then an overnight camp in Maine, followed by 8 years as first a camper, then a counselor, at Adventure Unlimited in Buena Vista, CO. I later returned to this beautiful spot in the Rockies to direct school, youth, and corporate programs for the 100 Elk Outdoor Center.

Q: How did your previous experiences shape your interests today?

A: I’ve had the privilege of exploring the outdoors both professionally and personally, and each environment and culture has taught me new perspectives and refreshed my sense of wonder. I feel like my happiest, best self when I am outdoors. Two major experiences that have informed my development and interests today were going to camp and being a counselor when I was a teenager through college, and serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Nicaragua. I am still deeply connected to those communities, and they have propelled my respective interests in outdoor experiences and helping people, whether abroad or in the US.

Meghan working on housing improvement projects with 4 Walls in Nicaragua.

Q: You’ve had professional and environmental experiences all over the world, how do those compare with the Lincoln area and community?

A: Every ecosystem and its habitats, and each set of culture, language, traditions, etc. shapes a place and its character. I am just getting to know Lincoln and the Drumlin Farm, and greater Mass Audubon communities, but new places and people are always exciting to me. One of the things which immediately drew me to Drumlin Farm was the idea of connecting people and nature through outdoor experiences, and helping people understand the relationship between our food production and natural habitats. My enthusiasm about Drumlin Farm sky-rocketed when I was getting to know several staff members while visiting. I asked them to describe Drumlin in three words or fewer, and every person responded with the word “community”. Other words focused on teaching and discovery, as well as the staff’s commitment to raising awareness of climate change. All of those things sounded fantastic, but the strong sense of community especially spoke to me.

I discovered the importance of community when, at the end of my first year in Peace Corps, I had to evacuate my site in a rural Nicaraguan town due to heavy rains and flooding. I wanted nothing more than to return to my community and help out. It was a pivotal moment which led me to start a community-based housing improvement project that grew into a much larger initiative bringing volunteers from all over the world to connect with families and build homes. Over the years of working outdoors, the inextricable links between nature and communities have become ever clearer. I left my first visit at Drumlin Farm with the understanding that its mission was to develop connections between communities and their environments, and that felt like an ideal fit for me.

Meghan teaching students in Honduras.

Q: What are you most looking forward to in your first summer as the Drumlin Farm Camp Director?

A: I found my voice and self-confidence as a young person at camp. Now, my favorite aspect of camp is supporting both campers and staff as they learn and grow. It is a marvelous opportunity to watch and help young people blossom into their best selves through both challenges and having fun. I’m excited to learn new lessons about the farm, wildlife, and this particular set of habitats, and to share those with our campers. Helping them be happy, healthy, and inspired is a really cool job to have.

Hiking amongst giant jungle ferns.

Q: What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

A: I enjoy being outside with my big, fluffy dog and my partner–whether on a beach, in the woods, on a mountain, or just around town. I spend time hiking, mountain biking, kayaking, and skiing whenever possible. Reading, photography, writing, and speaking Spanish also bring me great joy. I work with two international organizations, the 4 Walls Project, the home improvement initiative in Nicaragua, and a girls’ scholarship program, One New Education (ONE), and visit my Peace Corps town on a regular basis via both of these projects. I love traveling, exploring new places and cultures, and bringing people with me to experience the adventure.

Learn more and register for Drumlin Farm Summer Camps, at Drumlin Farm or Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge, today! We can’t wait to see you back in the outdoors this summer.

Double the Foxes, Double the Fun!

A big welcome to the newest member of the Drumlin Farm animal ambassador family, a female red fox! Like our resident male fox, she was found as an orphaned kit (young fox) in Illinois. Upon her discovery in February 2018 she weighed only 1.5 pounds. During her rehabilitation, she became habituated to her human caregivers and was deemed non-releasable, unable to survive on her own in the wild. She’s grown a lot since then and is adjusting well to the East Coast move, now weighing in at a healthy 10 pounds.

The new female fox joins the ranks of the many honorable animal ambassadors that call Drumlin Farm home and work to connect our visitors to the natural world in unique ways. Many Drumlin Farm visitors have never even seen a fox in person before, and know surprisingly little about these sly canines. Next time you visit, we invite you stop by the New England Wildlife Exhibit to see them up close. You can distinguish the female from the male by the relatively smaller white tip on her tail. As foxes are mostly nocturnal, the pair are often most active during early in the morning and at night, but our two foxes can regularly be seen exploring the exhibit, observing the cows in the pasture, or napping throughout the day. Check out the Fox Cam in our exhibit space to see the night-vision camera collecting data on their after-hours behavior. You can also explore inside our newly opened Fox Den viewing area, with its plexiglass window for a clear look inside the enclosure. Either way, don’t miss your chance to say hello to the newest member of the Drumlin Farm family!

Edie Sisson’s Ongoing Impact During 50 Years at Drumlin Farm

Edie Sisson is a Drumlin Farm superstar. She has been teaching at Drumlin Farm for fifty years, and during that time has opened countless people’s eyes to the wonders of nature. She believes in living sustainably, and her household includes chickens, geese, and honeybees, and for many years she provided many thousands of fertilized eggs for incubation to schoolchildren across the state, while her late husband, Tom, served as Drumlin Farm’s beekeeper. She also believes, passionately, in social justice and in the power of an individual to make a difference.

In 2007, she founded the Drumlin Farm Outreach and Assistance Resources (DOAR) program to provide scholarship support to make Drumlin Farm available to schools, families, and others for whom the financial barriers were too high, as well as to increase the diversity and accessibility of our community. Thanks to the DOAR Program, many people have been able to experience the magic of nature and the farm first hand. Seeing wildlife up close, getting your hands dirty in the garden caring for plants, and observing the interconnectedness of the natural world are lessons that last a life time and have inspired many, thanks to Edie’s push for inclusiveness.

On November 20, Drumlin colleagues past and present joined with Edie’s family to celebrate both her 90th birthday and her 50th anniversary at Drumlin Farm with a lunch in her honor.  Just a couple of days before Thanksgiving, it was a perfect opportunity to reflect on all that Edie has brought to our community and give thanks for her!

If you would like to make a gift to the DOAR Fund to help support socially diverse programs at Drumlin Farm, please contact Polly Reeve (preeve@massaudubon.org, 781-259-2239).

Pumpkin Waffles, Made by Cooking Together

The leaves are sparse, the chilling air has set in, and the Drumlin Farm Cooking Together class is preparing to make Drumlin Farm’s seasonal favorite, pumpkin waffles with homemade butter and apple cider syrup. Every week, this class of 3-5 year olds and their parents learn, and enjoy, a new recipe together. Perfect for a fall weekend breakfast, this simple recipe uses a combination of seasonal spices and homemade ingredients to create a meal that you’ll keep coming back for seconds…and thirds…and maybe fourths if there’s enough!

Pumpkin Waffles

Dry Ingredients:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Wet Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter
  1. Preheat waffle iron.
  2. Add dry ingredients to a large bowl and whisk to combine. If you’d like to follow along the “Cooking Together” way, feel free to sing a “mixing, mixing, mixing” song along with it.

    Mixing, mixing, mixing!

  3. In a separate large bowl, add wet ingredients and mix together until smooth.
  4. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients, mixing until combined. 
  5. Spray waffle iron with nonstick cooking spray, scoop mixture onto iron, and cook about 3-4 minutes. 

 

While the waffles were cooking, families gathered around circle time to take turns  continuously shaking 1 cup of heavy cream in a mason jar until a solid formed, and we had homemade butter. Our Teachers prepped the serving station with another Drumlin Farm recipe favorite–apple cider syrup.

Apple Cider Syrup

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 1-2 tablespoons lemon juice (depending on how tart you like it)
  • 2 table spoons butter
  1. To make the syrup, stir together the sugar, cornstarch, and cinnamon in a saucepan.
  2. Stir in the apple cider and lemon juice and cook over medium heat until mixture begins to boil.
  3. Boil until the syrup thickens. Remove from heat and stir in the butter until melted. Serve warm.

Anxiously awaiting the toppings!

And voila! When the waffles are done cooking you’ll have a deliciously cozy fall favorite. Adorn your own waffle station with the favorite fixings of your choosing and enjoy a breakfast with family, made with love.

Take it from our class, you’re going to want to make enough for second–and thirds! Registration is now open for our next series of Cooking Together classes, starting January 22!

Lining back up for another helping!

The best breakfasts are the ones eaten together with a smile!

 

Crops Update: Week 26

Sounds like winter arrives tomorrow, so we’re doing our best to bring in the last of the parsnips, leeks, and brussels sprouts before the thermometer hits the teens! Last week and yesterday, we finished the fall carrot harvest (pictured below), stacking over a ton into the root cellar. Jobs that remain include: mulching the strawberries, rhubarb, and perennial garden; stowing away equipment and preparing the wash station and Green Barn for winter; and seeding micro-greens and arugula in the greenhouse.

You may have also noticed pea tendrils already growing on heat mats in the greenhouse (pictured below). Volunteers Anne, Sheila and Francesca seeded those last week. Many thanks! The last Somerville market of the season is this coming this Saturday, and then we’ll have a break before starting at the Wayland Winter Farmer’s Market on Saturday, January 19. Tomorrow is the last fall CSA distribution of the year, and it’s taking place in the Green Barn where we’ll be happy to turn on the heat! We’ll be stocking up on Thanksgiving essentials like carrots, potatoes, butternut squash, garlic and onions.

The fall’s incessant rain brings to mind the House of Usher, and how it finally dissolved into the vaporous bog it was built on. In Poe’s tale, it was the isolation of the family that led to its ruin and symbolic collapse. And while these days it feels as if the squishy ground could open and swallow all the farm’s barns and buildings, our story is different because we’re not alone. We have all of you to thank for supporting us through another successful growing season. Whether you worked in the field, sold produce to customers, shared the story of our farming methods with others, or cooked a meal with Drumlin ingredients, you took part and contributed to this solid community. We’re thankful for you, and wish you the best during the holidays!

See you at our winter markets,

Your farmers

Crops Update: Week 25

Saturday’s Nor’easter shut down the farmers’ market and gifted us a real weekend. We learned about the market cancellation on Friday, and so made use of the hours normally spent harvesting to finish planting next year’s garlic crop. We’ll try to mulch the patch with straw tomorrow afternoon and early Thursday before the next round of rain arrives. The mulch will even out extremes of temperature over the winter and hopefully will prevent weed growth next spring. There’s an art to spreading straw: too thick, and it smothers the garlic; too thin, and the weeds come charging through; just right, and come May all you see is neat rows of green garlic on a field of straw.

Today and tomorrow are the last times we’ll set up the farmstand for the season, so be sure to stock up on onions, potatoes, carrots, cabbage, squash and sweet potatoes. We will be distributing fall CSA shares twice more after tomorrow on November 7 and 14. We may move those last two distributions to the Green Barn depending on the weather, so keep an eye out for any announcements in your newsletters. Although we no longer have a winter CSA program, we’re excited to start attending the Wayland Winter Market at Russell’s Garden Center. We’ll be there on January 19 for the first time, then twice more in February and twice again in March. We’re starting to plan our microgreen and pea tendril seeding schedule so that we’ll have something verdant to bring to market in addition to our usual root crops, onions and garlic.

With the CSA season winding down, be sure to check out our other fun food education programs to continue the farm-to-table connection and learn more cooking skills. Sourdough Breadmaking and Simple Cheesemaking are favorites for adults, while Crow Brings the Corn and The Gingerbread Man are perfect to bring the kids along.

See You in the Fields,

Your Farmers

Crops Update: Week 24

Two nights in the mid-20’s ended the season for many crops and even froze some potatoes underground and greens under rowcover (pictured below). Yesterday, while planting garlic, we had to contend with icy soil until mid-morning when the sun finally rose high enough to thaw things out. So we’re in a rush to dig those last seven beds of potatoes and plant the rest of the garlic patch. Thanks to help from data analysts at healthcare company Verscend, we finished the seemingly interminable sweet potato harvest last Thursday afternoon.

We then passed through the pepper and tomato patches for the final time this season picking the last ripe fruit. That night, the temperature fell to 25 degrees in the field, and in the morning the frost on the fields looked like a coating of snow. Cold like this kills swiss chard, broccoli and cauliflower, and can also damage cabbage and Brussels sprouts. Thankfully, last Tuesday afternoon, volunteers from furniture company Wayfair helped us strip 75 pounds of brussels sprouts from off their stalks for the following day’s CSA distribution (pictured below). Normally, we distribute the stalks with the sprouts still attached because we don’t have time to separate them. Thanks Wayfair volunteers for giving our CSA members a rare treat!

On Saturday afternoon, volunteers with the Appalachian Mountain Club dug 1,200 pounds of potatoes and planted two beds of garlic all in about three hours. Each fall, we select 400 lbs. of our largest garlic heads to break up into cloves and seed back to the fields for next year’s crop (pictured below).

Now that the cold is here and there’s less to harvest, we’re saying goodbye to some of our team members. Susie Janik is starting a job in the Worcester County D.A.’s office. Susie has done a great job with sales to chefs and at the Union Square farmers’ market; we were thankful to have her help one last time this past Saturday at market. John Mark finished his time with us yesterday planting garlic. It’s a fitting end to his season as he joined our team on the day we started harvesting the garlic crop in mid-July. Thanks Susie and John for your good work and company. We’ll have to work harder without you, but that will keep our blood moving and our hands warm!

And speaking of keeping our blood moving and hands warm, this week also brings our annual family-friendly Halloween event, Tales of the Night. Stop by Thursday or Friday, 6:30-9:00 pm to meet nocturnal creatures, travel by haunted hayride, and have a few treats (and tricks!).

See you in the field,

Your Farmers

Crops Update: Week 23

Finally, we had our first frost of the season last Saturday night and are expecting harder freezes this coming Wednesday and Thursday. In light of this, we are hurrying to finish the sweet potato harvest (half the patch yet to go), and will need to cover tender greens by Wednesday afternoon. Today at the stand you’ll find the last heirloom tomatoes of 2018, harvested slightly under-ripe on Friday, but beautiful and flavorful right now. You’ll also find a number of pumpkins and gourds for sale, prefect for pies from scratch, carving, or decorating your home this autumn. It’s easy to impose characters and personalities on the eclectic collection of various sizes, colors, and abnormalities, all of them eagerly awaiting a home!

Harvesting sweet potatoes ends up being very time consuming, in part because of their complicated root systems.

Our other big job we’re looking to complete as soon as possible is garlic planting. October 15th is our target date to have that finished, but we’ve been taking advantage of the warm weather to maximize harvests of summer crops. On Tuesday of last week, volunteers from AER (Atmospheric and Environmental Research) came back to the farm for a second year in a row and harvested carrots, tomatoes and more sweet potatoes (pictured above). They worked so quickly that we had time to weed a few problem areas while moving between harvests.

Harvesting the last of our tomatoes.

On Friday, volunteers from Upland Software helped us pick paste tomatoes for market (pictured above), and then they pitched-in digging, yes more, sweet potatoes. Thanks all for helping us bring in what these amazing fields have to offer! If you’re interested in volunteering in the crops fields during the end of this season or the next, please email our Volunteer Coordinator. We could always use help around the farm!

See You in the Fields,

Your Farmers

Crops Update: Week 22

Still no frost, not even a night in the high thirties. This is unusual, as our low lying fields usually get zapped in the last week of September or first week of October. We expected a frost last Friday night, and so worked that afternoon with 20 volunteers from Shire biotech to scour the eggplant and tomato patches in a last call harvest. Shire volunteers then helped us bring in the last of the popcorn crop, and they even had time to dip their toes into the quicksand of the sweet potato harvest—don’t worry; they made it out alive!

Shire Volunteers

We continued mucking around in the sweet potatoes the following afternoon with 22 students from Brandeis. While it may look like we’re having a fist fight with the soil, we mean it no harm; though I can’t say the same for it, we end each session dazed and badly in need of a nap! And even with all that good help, we’re still only a third of the way through the patch, having brought in over half a ton of sweet potatoes.

Volunteers harvesting sweet potatoes

By way of comparison, 12 volunteers from Global Atlantic helped us harvest 1,100 pounds of potatoes in only an hour this past Thursday. The soil in the potato patch is lighter, and the plants have the good sense to develop their roots in a neat bundle in the space directly below them. Thank you, kind potato plants, and thanks to the volunteers from Global Atlantic, who also helped us harvest peppers in anticipation of that frost that never came.

But looking ahead, a frost seems likely for our fields this coming Saturday night. We’ll continue harvesting as if that were the case, and you may see row covers going up to protect late season greens. In the meantime, we’re taking advantage of the warm weather and so will have a mix of summer and fall crops available at the stand, in the CSA shares and at market this week.

See you in the field,

Your Farmers