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Farm Tour Success

Information booth at the Gross Farm open house last Sunday.

Information booth at the Gross Farm open house last Sunday.

Reviewing the historic map of Petersham.

Reviewing the historic map of Petersham.

On Sunday afternoon about 50 people ventured out among the fields and woods off East Street in Petersham. We got a chance to explore the land, see some of its hidden treasures – like Bell Rock, and talk about the future. The Town is working with the East Quabbin Land Trust to permanently protect the property by purchasing a conservation restriction on the land which will allow farming, forest and wildlife management, and for the future owner to build a single-family residence.

Click here to read the property handout.

The land was recently purchased by the East Quabbin Land Trust from the family of Fred and Ethel Gross. They loved the land. Mr. Gross would spend weekends at the property haying the fields and working in the woods. Conservation of the property leaves a lasting legacy!

Catching up with neighbors!

Catching up with neighbors!

The land trust and Town are in the early stages of seeking a farmer or farm family to purchase the land once the restriction is in place. The goal is to encourage active farming, conservation of the brooks and woods on into the future. A request for proposal will be distributed in September with more details.

They're offIn two months (October 11th) we will be hosting the Station Loop Ramble at the Mass Central Rail Trail. We hope you join us for either the Kid’s One Mile, 5-Mile Classic or the 5K Run/Walk! People are starting to reserve their space – assuring that they get a t-shirt. Click here for more information and to register for the race.

We want to thank Country Bank for becoming a silver sponsor and R.N. Glidden Landscaping Services for becoming a bronze sponsor of the race!

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Glidden logo

Heads Up

Sunset at Mandell Hill on August 12, 2015. Photo taken by Brian Miner.

Sunset at Mandell Hill on August 12, 2015. Photo taken by Brian Miner.

The Perseid meteor shower did send shooting stars streaking across the sky last night. Mostly the ones we saw were headed to the south in the middle band of sky with the Milky Way as a back drop. Cries of “Oh, there’s one” or “Wow!” were heard among the 25 or so people perched on or nearby the Ellison Birding Platform at Mandell Hill. We counted a couple dozen meteors in the hour and a half that people were watching. Wonder how many would’ve been visible at 3am during the peak time? All in all it was a great evening to spend some time outside; listening to the crickets, watching the stars, and talking with neighbors and friends!

Before the meteors were visible Brian Miner caught several terrific pictures of the beautiful sunset. Thanks Brian for sharing your terrific images!

Sunset at Mandell Hill from the Ellison Birding Platform. Photo taken by Brian Miner.

Sunset at Mandell Hill from the Ellison Birding Platform. Photo taken by Brian Miner.

Biodiversity abundant

Thanks to Dave, Ted, Dan, Scott, Caren, Becky, Nick, Shelby, Gabriella, Nathaniel, Dave, Ruth and Cynthia

Thanks to Dave, Ted, Dan, Scott, Caren, Becky, Nick, Shelby, Peter, Gabriella, Nathaniel, Dave, Ruth and Cynthia for exploring Pynchon’s Grist Mill Preserve this morning!

This morning we spent some time at Pynchon’s Grist Mill Preserve in West Brookfield looking for signs of life. Boy did we find a bunch of stuff! Several plants, insects and mushrooms are yet to be identified, but we were able to greatly expand our species list.

raccoon prints

Raccoon prints along the pond edge

Several youngsters spent some time fishing and caught a yellow perch, pumpkin sunfish, yellow bullhead and saw a large-mouth bass took a great leap out of the water nearby. We also saw raccoon tracks, Great blue heron and wood ducks, and several species of dragonflies and damselflies even though the sun wasn’t out. The full list will be available this week after the data sheets are tabulated.

Dave photographing a damselfly for later identification

Dave photographing a damselfly for later identification

Smashing Saturday Night

IMG_0883The fourteenth annual Dinner and Silent Auction for the East Quabbin Land Trust was held last night, June 27th. The evening was a rousing success, thanks to all who attended, auction item donors and Judith Jones and Nancy Grimes for co-hosting the evening. We especially want to thank our corporate sponsors for their generous contributions.

  • New Harbor Financial Group
  • Pioneer Valley Environmental
  • Dresser and McGourthy LLP
  • North Brookfield Savings Bank
  • Berube Real Estate
  • The Cultural Center at Eagle Hill

IMG_0896The evening included ample opportunity to bid on a diversity of silent auction items, such as vacation packages to the Berkshires, Martha’s Vineyard or Mount Desert Island, furniture, photographs, gardening supplies and antiques. Proceeds from the auction raised over $10,000 in support of our programs.

In addition, we thanked Ann Hicks and Harbour Fraser Hodder for co-chairing the Friends of the Wendemuth group, which successfully raised $50,000 towards conservation of Wendemuth Meadows. This initiative is a great story that features growing community awareness about a special place in North Brookfield, and the multiple years to complete conservation of the land.

Also, Harrison Achilles was honored for his tireless work at Wendemuth Meadow and other EQLT preserves. Through Harrison’s efforts brush and invasive plants are being pushed back from walls, fields and buildings to maintain these properties and welcome visitors. If you haven’t been to Wendemuth Meadow yet, be sure to stop by and walk the loop trail starting at the barn, 25 Bates Street.

IMG_0897We were fortunate to also have a $10,000 matching challenge grant made to dinner participants. Because of that challenge we raised an additional $17,000, plus the $10,000 in support of the East Quabbin Land Trust.

Thank you to all who helped make this a Smashing Saturday Night for the East Quabbin Land Trust.

 

Color festYesterday was a terrific day at the North Brookfield Music, Art and Color Fest sponsored by Statz Sports Bar and Grill!! All proceeds from the event support conservation of Wendemuth Meadow Preserve at 25 Bates Street, North Brookfield. A special thank you goes out to Brandon and Janine for their hard work organizing the event, and the other volunteers that made it possible. Many people, 500+ by some estimates, stopped by Time Out on East Brookfield Road to enjoy the vendors, food, kid’s games, art show, silent auction and excellent music.

Color1The powdered colors started flying after noon and dusting family and friends joining in the fun. Make sure to join us again next summer!

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Landowner stories resonate

Joan and Randy Walker talking with workshop participants in Barre.

Joan and Randy Walker talking with workshop participants in Barre.

This past week there were two opportunities to hear directly from landowners about how conservation of their family lands fit into estate planning. Thank you to Joan and Randy Walker, Frank Patterson and Mick Huppert for sharing their experiences and insights into challenging planning situations.

Fellow landowners from Barre and Oakham heard about the path that Joan and Randy Walker are on to ensure that the farm can remain a vibrant working farm for generations to come. That includes setting the land ownership up in a LLC, creating land-based businesses such as wood processing and grass-fed beef, and conserving a critical 96-acre area of fields and associated woods and wetlands in an Agricultural Preservation Restriction.

Frank Patterson and his siblings were challenged with how to keep the family farm as a working farm after their parents died several years ago. The end result was the sale of the woods to Mass Audubon and the Town of Barre purchased the development rights on the remaining agricultural lands. A private family purchased the house and remaining land. These steps met their goals and allowed the new family to engage in farming.

Mick Huppert shared their family history of moving into Barre and then Petersham over the years. The Hupperts purchased a woodlot with the idea that their daughters might want to move back to town, which turned out not to be part of the younger generations plans. With the new (2011) Conservation Land Tax Credit program possibilities, the Hupperts decided to donate that woodlot and received a Massachusetts tax credit in addition to the federal tax deduction.

These stories include themes of love of the land, responding to parents desires to see the farm continue, and hopes for future generations. By the actions of these three families more land is available for farm and forest management!

Kathy Ruhf, senior project coordinator at Land For Good, also spoke at the session in Barre. Ms. Ruhf has expertise in farmland transfer and farm business succession. A key part of Ms. Ruhf’s remarks shared the collaborative nature of assisting families through these transitions and the importance of starting now!

Thank you to the Barre Senior Center and Fobes Memorial Public Library for hosting these events. Partial funding came from the Mass. Department of Conservation and Recreation in collaboration with the Barre and Oakham Open Space Committees.

Bobolinks at Wendemuth

20150607_083400webupA great crew of volunteers monitored the bird populations at Wendemuth Meadow this morning. With binoculars strapped around our necks and clipboards in hand, we divided into four groups. Each group took a field or several fields to monitor. That involves choosing a location with good visibility over the area and then watching, listening and recording all birds in the area for fifteen minutes. Once the first station is monitored, the group moves onto the next station.

All told we documented 12-14 pairs of bobolinks using Wendemuth. It’s a bit difficult to get an exact figure because the birds move from one field to another. Regardless, that is a healthy number for a species whose population is declining. The fields at Wendemuth get cut after July4th. Bobolinks nest on the ground, so cutting the hay runs over the nests and kills the young. By delaying the cutting until after July 4th, that gives the bobolink parents enough time to successfully rear their young for the year.

20150607_083423webupOther birds documented on the property include:

  • Tree swallow
  • American bluebird
  • Red-winged blackbird
  • Mourning dove
  • Chickadee
  • Little green heron
  • Barn swallow
  • Common yellow-throat warbler
  • American robin20150607_085902web
  • Catbird
  • Blue jay
  • Chipping sparrow
  • English sparrow
  • Eastern phoebe
  • Downy woodpecker
  • Song sparrow
  • Eastern king bird
  • Baltimore oriele
  • Red-bellied woodpecker
  • House wren
  • Goldfinch
  • Chimney swift
  • Alder fly-catcher
  • Red-eyed vireo
  • American crow

Fun at the Family Fest

20150606_094316webThe model train was a big hit during the Family Fun Fest at the Mass Central Rail Trail today!! So was face painting, drawing with chalk and hola hooping. Not to mention target shooting with a fire hose.

The Imbier-Monson Farm opened their doors for tours in the morning. Several groups of visitors walked through the barns, got to see the milking machines and named two new calves, just a day or two old.

Many families also walked down the rail trail to see the Ware River. We will leave the story walk up for a few more days so everyone can read about Fancy Nancy’s adventure with delicious cupcakes!!

Thanks to all who helped organize the event and also those who participated!!

Getting a butterfly. Tigers, cats, Spiderman and skeletons also visited the Family Fun Fest!

Getting a butterfly. Tigers, cats, Spiderman and skeletons also visited the Family Fun Fest!

Hooping and dancing were free-form all day long

Hooping and dancing were free-form all day long

Nearly complete

Dedicated volunteers at the end of a long day working on the railing at the pony truss. Thank you Linda, Rod, Bud, Harry, John, Denis and Mark.

Dedicated volunteers at the end of a long day working on the railing at the pony truss. Thank you Linda, Rod, Bud, Harry, John, Denis and Mark.

Today was a fabulous day to be outside. Thank you to Mark, John, Becky, Rod, Linda, Laura, Trevor, Harry, Denis and Bud for spending their day working at the pony truss bridge. This is a dedicated and hard-working crew!

The wind was blowing just enough to keep the mosquitoes at bay and we enjoyed the warmth in the sun. Several kayakers paddled by as we were cutting boards and screwing them into place. We had lunch at the newly installed picnic table by the bridge.

The railings are several steps closer to completion! Today we installed the coated wire mesh and facing boards to hold the mesh to the posts. Now the railings are safe, especially for little kids who like to poke their heads through small spaces. With the wire mesh up none of those are left. Last step is to install the railing cap – 2″x10″ – along the top. It’s all coming together very nicely. Thank you to all who have helped rejuvenate the pony truss into a safe rail trail bridge!

Installing facing boards.

Installing facing boards.

Working on the wire mesh

Working on the wire mesh

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