On a hot summer day at Mass Audubon’s Drumlin Farm Wildlife Sanctuary, a refreshing breeze and shade trees cool visitors who have come to walk the trails, pick up produce, and visit the farm animals, birds, and other wildlife who call this place home. Day campers and preschoolers also roam the walkways and classrooms, learning about the natural world and their connection to it. More than 90,000 people come to Drumlin Farm in Lincoln every year, says director Christy Foote-Smith, because it’s much more than a farm. “We’re unique because we combine the farm and the nature elements to help people understand how they fit together in a healthy way,” she says. “How we treat the land has a lot to do with the health of the planet, and how we raise food and choose to buy food has a big impact on the natural environment.”
“In the forest discovery trail there’s a giant hawk’s nest with fake eggs that kids can sit in, a burrow they can climb through to pretend they’re a burrowing animal, and a telescope they can look through to see what a hawk would see for lunch in the trees,” Foote-Smith explains.
Educational programs for children and adults are scheduled year-round at Drumlin Farm on topics such as responsible farming, green living, birding, healthy cooking, raising chickens, jam- or cheese-making, and understanding bee colonies. There’s also a Conservation Leadership Program for teens, and scores of volunteer opportunities that get people working with the animals and the land. “Our mission is to help people make connections with nature using our farm, our wildlife resources and our beautiful sanctuary,” says Foote-Smith, “and to raise their awareness of the importance of preserving habitats for birds and all living creatures that use them, including people.”
The Drumlin farmyard features sheep, goats, cows, chickens, pigs and a pony. Manure from the animals helps to fertilize the 20 acres of farm fields. Educational information and animal-related quotes are scattered throughout the barn, and a tractor-trailer filled with hay sits outside, ready for hay rides. There’s also a learning garden nearby for teaching about soil cultivation, pollination, composting and growing. Just up from the barn is Bird Hill, currently home to owls, hawks, a turkey vulture, a pheasant and a raven with a personality as big as its wingspan. Other wildlife at Drumlin Farm include deer, foxes, grassland birds and amphibians dwelling in a recently restored vernal pond. Dedicated volunteers might also be spotted around the grounds, working in the gardens and elsewhere.
Gwyn Loud is a Lincoln resident who’s been involved with Drumlin Farm for 40 years as a teacher and, currently, a volunteer. She says she does it because of the important work they are doing here. “It’s got this wonderful combination of the wild nature and the farm animals, and it’s beautiful and peaceful,” says Loud. “You do not have to travel to New Hampshire or Vermont to have a really wonderful experience in nature and learn a lot in the process.”
On Saturday, August 6, Drumlin Farm Wildlife Sanctuary hosts a free Nature Play Discovery Day featuring a hay playground, a nature obstacle course, animal talks, and trail explorations. No registration is required, and many facilities and trails at Drumlin Farm are universally accessible.
Mass Audubon’s Drumlin Farm Wildlife Sanctuary is located at 208 South Great Rd. in Lincoln. For more information, call 781-259-2200 or visit MassAudubon.org/rumlinarm