Tag Archives: mass audubon

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.

Crops Update: Week 12

Feeling like the movie Goodfellas this week, we’re frazzled, minding our own business, watching the sauce on the stove top, picking up nephews from the airport, ect. when you glance up and notice a helicopter hovering overhead…look closer and you’ll see there are hundreds of them silhouetted against the evening sky above the fields. Up close, they are turquoise and red, small but enormous relatively, nearly stationary and cruising along above the tractors, others are low to the ground and darting sideways from plant to plant. Yes, it’s dragonfly season, and they are everywhere in the crop fields right now! Take a walk through our trails and fields, and you might be treated to an experience similar to snorkeling through a school of fish, the dragonflies zigging past all around you at impossible angles—right at your face, then straight up and away…

Dragonfly. Photo Credit: Pamela Kelly

If you could hover above the fields like an insectoid helicopter right now, you’d see all our campers spread out over the field for Weed Out #3. You’d see volunteers from IBM planting broccoli and bringing in the last of the storage onions and us hauling basket after basket of corn, tomatoes and watermelons up to the farm stand. Today at the stand, you’ll find more   awesome Awesome-variety sweet corn and outstanding Little Baby Flower watermelons. They are the size of a candle pin bowling ball with pinkish red flesh that is both tangy and sweet and most delicious near the shell-thin rind–and is my favorite watermelon variety of the season. Tomatoes will be occasionally available this week until we expect to be inundated by the weekend. It is that sacred time of year when you can have a basil, corn, cucumber, tomato salad every night! Drizzle it with olive oil, rice vinegar, and salt. To experience the fullness of the flavor, do not cook the corn, eat it raw right off the cob, or cut it off the cob and into your salad. If you’re interested in joining the end of the Summer CSA at a prorated fee, email our CSA coordinator Veronica Gassert at vgassert@massaudubon.org. See our CSA page for more information on our Fall CSA coming up in September.

This past week, with the help of some new and returning faces, it finally felt like we had enough hands to get the job done and more! Thanks everyone for bearing down, harvesting quickly, weeding the perennial garden in the downpour, and placing the shade cloth on the greenhouse during that same storm. The placement of the shade cloth to keep direct sun off the curing onions means that we are very near the end of greenhouse seedling production for the season—only a few rounds of lettuce left to go! Harvests are in full swing, with campers once again picking beans for market and about a dozen community volunteers cutting flower stems for market bouquets. We’ve never had so many people involved with the flower harvest, and it really helped the team have a great day at market. If you or your business are interesting in volunteering and helping us in the field, please email our Volunteer Coordinator Pam Sowizral at psowizral@massaudubon.org.

Thanks to all who worked on the harvest, and thanks to Sarah, Veronica, Susie, Bodhi, and the market volunteers for doing such a great job in Somerville bringing corn, watermelons, beans and flowers to our fans.

See you in the field,

Your Farmers

Summer Crops Update: Special Water Zombies Edition

Crops Updates are written by Drumlin Farm Crops Manager Matt Celona.

Photo by Pei Ren

Photo by Pei Ren

Call Us Water Zombies
All day long and into the night we haul barrel after barrel of the precious ichor to our plant overlords, and yet they are forever thirsty. We became Water Zombies on Saturday, when yet another round of thunderstorms decided we could do without it: “They have so much organic matter at Drumlin Farm, they can get by on humidity! Let’s go rain on a place that really needs it.” (While it’s true that our soil is very rich, we still need at least some rain to keep our crops healthy!)

We’ve started watering the tomato patch to keep this important crop from flagging. In these relentlessly sunny and hot conditions, the precipitation we had last Tuesday didn’t go far. We’re encouraged by the forecast for thunderstorms over the next several days, but we will continue to water and seed until we get a real rain.

First Watermelons in Two Years
We will begin harvesting storage onions and watermelon this week. We never watered these crops, but they still look good! The electric fence has so far kept the coyotes out of the melons. We are excited by the prospect of our first watermelon harvest in two years. We are now harvesting larger quantities of husk cherries, cherry tomatoes, and heirloom slicing tomatoes. Tomato flavors are intense this year as a result of the weather, so, if you’re a tomato lover, come to the stand today to sample one positive side of the drought.

See you in the field,
Your Water Zombies