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Walk on the Wildside with Sue Bridge

Wildside Cottage

How would you plan your retirement if you had already received a degree from Wellesley College, earned a further degree in Russian and Middle Eastern Studies, hitchhiked to Morocco, lived in Paris, worked for the United Nations, as well as in the cable TV world, and for the Christian Science Monitor newspaper?

Sue Bridge, with the urging of a Northampton friend, bought eight acres of hilly land in Conway. For the past seven years her retirement project has been to create a sustainable, self-sufficient home and landscape where she can live off the grid. The house she designed is energy efficient, well insulated with electricity and hot water provided by solar panels. It is also beautiful, inside and out. The sunny main living space is comprised of a kitchen, dining and living areas. French doors form the south wall of the living area which opens out onto a stone terrace with low stone walls overlooking terraced gardens and across to the hills beyond. The house is small but there is no sense of being cramped, only of spacious comfort.

For help in creating a sustainable landscape she turned to Jono Neiger of the Regenerative Design Group. Neiger and his group are proponents of permaculture systems. Bridge confesses she didn’t really understand what that meant when she began. Neiger came several times to visit; he’d walk around, make notes and walk around some more. Finally, after he had walked the land for several months and not a single spade of soil had been moved, she asked him if his crews were very busy. Did he have any idea when work would begin?

Then Neiger had to explain that work was well-begun. He had been building a scientific portrait of the land, how the sun, wind and water moved across the hill, and over the season.

It was not until Neiger invited Bridge to his own garden that she began to understand what permaculture is. On the appointed day she arrived at his house and garden before he did and was very confused. “Where’s the garden,” she asked when he drove up. The truth is that permaculture gardens do not look like the beautifully arranged flower gardens or orderly vegetable gardens that most of us are familiar with.

I was in the same position she had been with Neiger. I could see why she had named her place Wildside. I needed to have the garden explained. “This is not traditional farmland, but it is incredibly productive,” she said as we walked across the broad terraces  carved into the hillside. “Terraces are a permaculture trademark.”

The terraces help keep the soil from eroding, even in severe storms. “We had 17 inches of rain during Irene, but there was no erosion,” Bridge said.

To the east the living room terrace is an herb garden. One of Bridge’s specialties is five-herb tea. The terraces on the south hillside are first planted to vegetables that are harvested during the summer, the next terrace on the slope is for perennial vegetables like sea kale and Jerusalem artichokes, and the third is for pollinators, bee balm, garlic chives and other plants that attract pollinators.

Productive sweet potato vines in greenhouse

At the bottom of the slope is a small greenhouse where she grows sweet potatoes in the ground, harvesting more than 100 pounds of nutritious sweet potatoes, as well as ginger, and turmeric plants good for the digestion, and pain relief. The garden outside the greenhouse is mostly storage vegetables, beets, carrots, potatoes and squash. Of course, if you raise enough of this kind of vegetable you need a root cellar and Bridge has built a small one behind her house. Other edible crops are canned or dried.

Wildside rice

We walked past the path to the orchard with apple, peach, pear and plum trees and to the rice paddy in the Wet Meadow. It took heavy digging, but Bridge is growing rice!

The land rises slightly beyond the Wet Meadow. We walked through a stand of overgrown Christmas trees, planted by the former owners, then came into a sunny meadow where nut trees, including chestnut have been planted. The surrounding evergreens help protect them from high winter winds.

Mountain mint with Monarch butterfly

Bridge said she learned that eastern slopes are ideal for fruit trees and berries. On her eastern slope she grows persimmons, pawpaws, quince, Asian pears, shadbush, blueberries, elderberries, and black chokeberries. http://www.millernurseries.com/ sell chokeberriess. Chokeberries are not very sweet, but they are extremely nutritious and do make good jelly. Bridge has also tucked mountain mint and other plants for pollinators everywhere on this east slope.

I was fascinated by the “fertility bed” a long row of comfrey, bush clover and switch grass which Bridge cuts down twice a year and uses as mulch or compost.

Bridge has come to love Conway where she has found a great community with lots of grass roots action. “This is a friendly environment for me,” she said.

A broad community has found Sue Bridge to be very friendly, and inspirational. Her gardens have become a model of sustainable food production. Students from Wellesley and Smith Colleges, the Conway School of Landscape Design, Greenfield Community College and others come to see what she is doing and learn about the science behind what she is doing.

When I asked if she had intended to launch such an educational project in her retirement she said no. “I did not intend, but I do not resist.”    

Between the Rows   August 24, 2013

Let’s Eat the Invasive Species

Scientific American September 2013

‘How (and why) to Eat Invasive Species by chef Bun Lai in the new issue of Scientific American proposes an answer to the economic damage ($120 billion a year) that invasive species cause. Eat them. Eat the wild boar, the lionfish and Japanese knotweed. Turn them into thin-sliced hot meat drizzled with ginger, garlic,roasted sesame and sauvignon blanc soy sauce, or thinly sliced raw lionfish sprinkled with lime juice, seven kinds of crushed peppers, roasted seaweed flakes, toasted sesame seeds and sea salt, and lemonade made by blending knotweed shoots (that taste kind of like Granny Smith apples) with fresh stevia leaves, fresh kefir lime leaves, lemon juice, and mineral water over ice!

Bun Lai is not the first to make this suggestion. In the July 2013 issue of The Atlantic Nancy Matsumoto wrote: “More and more people are trying hard to prove they do. The Corvallis, Oregon-based Institute for Applied Ecology’s (IAE) Eradication by Mastication program includes an annual invasive species cook-off and a published cookbook called The Joy of Cooking Invasives: A Culinary Guide to Biocontrol (kudzu quiche! nutria eggrolls!). The program will hold a workshop this summer on how to dig, process, and cook up the highly invasive purple varnish clam. Tom Kaye, executive director of IAE, made one of three prize-winning entries at last year’s cook-off: battered, deep-fried Cajun bullfrog legs. Second place went to popcorn English house sparrow drumsticks. Despite their poor labor-to-meat ratio, Kaye says, “they were tasty.” Third prize went to nutria prepared three ways, including pulled-pork style and made into sausages.”

Back on July 9, 2011 the New York Times ran an article by Elisabeth Rosenthal titled Answer for Invasive Species-Put it on a Plant and Eat It. She quotes “Humans are the most ubiquitous predators on earth,” said Philip Kramer, director of the Caribbean program for the Nature Conservancy. “Instead of eating something like shark fin soup, why not eat a species that is causing harm, and with your meal make a positive contribution?”

A whole website Eat the Invaders is devoted helping us find, prepare and eat invasive species from the lamb’s quarters weed to the nutria, otherwise known as river rat. This is a fascinating website with information about invaders, recipes and links to all kinds of resources like the Center for Invasive and Aquatic Plants and Invasivore.org run by Notre Dame graduate students. They also note that the classic Larousse Gastronomique cookbook, first published in 1938 and last revised in 1988 –  ” [is] fabulous!  For the invasivore, there’s a nice little entry on the Burgundian way with the rat. And, of course, all those North American invasive weeds are in there.”

Could you be an Invasivore?

BTW – I cannot help telling your to take a look at this latest issue of Scientific American –  if only to look at the various covers. I had a terrible time choosing between the yellow, orange, and red covers. Not only was the background cover different the tiny pictures of various foods and equipment that make up the spoon graphic were also different. Which cover had more of my favorite foods? I finally chose the yellow cover that included watermelon. Hey, it’s summer.

 

Joe Pye Weed for the Butterflies

Joe Pye Weed

Joe Pye Weed, Eupatorium, is a native plant whose range extends from Texas to Maine. It can be used in perennial flower beds, or allowed to flourish on the roadside or in fields. I planted a small variety in my garden this spring, but I love the 6 foot tall ‘weeds’ that grow in the fields.

Joe Pye Weed

I am not successful of getting  photographs of butterflies, but butterflies find lots of nectar in the tiny blossoms of the Joe Pye Weed flower head, which can be very broad. It is easy to grow in sun or very light shade, in soil moist or dry. While it is a good nectar plant for butterflies, it does not support caterpillars.  Host plants for caterpillars include milkweed, dill, parsley, cabbage, sunflowers and many others. For a more complete list click here.

This year in my own garden I found that garlic chives are a great nectar plant. Next year I am going to plant mountain mint which also attracts many butterflies and other pollinators.

Walking in Our Woods with the Mass Audubon Society

 

A sunny spot in the woods – overstory and understory, no midstory

I’ve always known we have many different types of bird habitat here at the End of the Road. We have fields that surround our house and the garden. We have a wetland and a pond. Mostly we have woods, about 35 or so acres, surrounding the house, fields, and wetlands.

I have walked in our woods. I have taken grandchildren up the lane, part of the old road to Rowe that was discontinued decades ago. The tree-lined lane runs between two fields and then into the woods. The grandchildren and I would clear what’s left of the road of sticks, and tree seedlings. We’d look at bugs under rotting felled trees and under stones. We talk and enjoy the shade, or complain about the mosquitoes and decide it was time to go home

Sometimes we’d cross the field and go into the western woods and down to the stream that marks the border of our land. I never spent much time thinking about the different character of the woods. They were just ‘the woods.’

My view of our woods changed last Monday when I went through the woods with Stu Watson from the Mass Audubon Society and three neighbors who are very knowledgeable about birds. Watson was there to walk through our fields and woods and tell us how we could make these different habitats more bird friendly. He showed me how to look at my woods with new eyes.

First we walked across the field and learned that in order to protect birds like woodcock and ruffed grouse who nest there, we should not give those fields their annual mowing until the very end of July or beginning of August. Other birds like whippoorwills and tree sparrows like this habitat.

My husband Henry pointed out that some of our white pines had started to encroach on the field. Watson explained that was a good thing. Transitions are important for birds. A field should not stop suddenly at the edge of a woodland. There should be some shrubby transition. There will come a time when that transition will turn into woods, so it needs to be monitored and managed. I never knew that Mass Audubon Society knew so much about trees, in addition to birds.

Watson also suggested that areas around old apple trees in the field be cleared to make the soft mast (fallen fruit) more available to the birds and other wildlife.

From the field we stepped into a stand of white pine. The ground was covered with pine needles and there was very little undergrowth. This is not ideal. Taking down a few trees would allow more sun to enter, and then allow pine regeneration. Birds would welcome the new growth.

Over-, mid-, and understory in the woods

The ideal is to have tall overstory trees, then have a midstory of trees and shrubs between 5-30 feet, and then an understory of ferns, and other low growing plants and groundcovers. This is exactly the structure we gardeners copy when we plant a mixed border of small trees, shrubs and  underplanted with flowers or groundcovers.

Wolf Tree

We moved through the pine woods which rather abruptly changed into a hardwood stand. In the transition area there was pine regeneration because there was more sun, and there were ferns and maple seedlings. I even learned a new maple variety, striped maple, which has large three lobed leaves. This was a much better area for birds because it provided more protective cover and more forage. It also provided several wolf trees, enormous old dead trees that provide a bug smorgasbord for bug eaters, and cavities for birds and other small wildlife to live in. I was happy to see tiny oak seedlings. I don’t know how acorns got into our woods, but oaks support over 500  wildlife species. I want oak trees.

Oak seedling

Walking was more difficult in this area, but Watson repeated several times. “Bad walking means good habitat.”

The third stand was mixed white pine and hardwoods like white ash, black cherry, red maple, and white birch. This section had been logged but there was a well developed midstory. There was very little understory growth, but there was lots of debris on the ground caused by storm damage. Again, thinning needs to be done to allow more sun and thus encourage regeneration.

Watson was very pleased with our various habitats, and the good health of our woods. He gave us his suggestions for improving the habitat. When we re-read our forest management plan prepared by our forester Scott Sylvester with new eyes, we realized that he had anticipated all of Watson’s suggestions ten years ago.

We expected Stu from the Mass Audubon Society to be knowledgeable about birds but then we found out that Scott Sylvester, who is passionate about birds, is one of the organizers of this collaboration between the Mass Audubon Society, the Mass Department of Conservation and Recreation, and the Franklin Land Trust, a collaboration that mirrors those in Vermont and New Hampshire. The goal is to keep forest bird habitat intact. By the way, it will also make forest land productive for the owner, allowing for selective cutting.

Northern New England is a ‘breeding bird factory” Watson said. Seventy to 90 species of birds nest and breed in this area, and this habitat is crucial to “keeping common birds common.”

This is a pilot program. We were glad to learn about it when it was launched on Mother’s Day with a walk for interested people through the Betty Maitland Memorial Forest in Heath. The program will help woodland owners to look at their property in a way that is not only beneficial to them, but to beautiful birds as well.

For more information about this new Mass Audubon Society program email Stu Watson at swatson@massaudubon.org or Matt Kamm at mkamm@massaudubon.org.

Between the Rows   June 15, 2013

Don’t forget, you still have time to win a free copy of my book, The Roses at the End of the Road. Leave a comment here by midnight Sunday, June 23 and I’ll announce the winner on Monday. You can also  buy copies on sale, or a Kindle edition. All info is here.

 

S is for Sustainability on Earth Day 2013

Tom Benjamin

S is for Sustainability this Earth Day. Yesterday I introduced Tom Benjamin who designs sustainable, low maintenace landscapes to an attentive audience at our local ‘Little e’ (not the Big Eastern Exposition in Springfield) where the theme was saving energy.  The topic was Reduce Your Lawn and Increase Your Leisure. Since I have been writing about low-mow landscapes I was interested to hear how Tom calculated the benefits.

There are many. The first benefit, according to my husband, is less of his labor. But Tom pointed out that there are 40 million acres of lawn in the US. That is an area larger than the state of New York. Most of those lawns are fertilized, dosed with herbicides and irrigated. There are financial costs to all those aspects of growing a lawn, but there is also an environmental cost. Lawns use more fertilizers than farmers, and the run off from those fertilizers wash into our water systems. In addition, lawns do not support any wildlife, insects or birds.

In addition, an hour of power lawn mowing produces more air pollution than 5 automobiles driving for an hour. And, of course, there is the  gas and oil that it takes to run a power mower.

So, the question is, if we are looking for sustainability in our domestic landscape, how can we accomplish this. First there is hardscaping, patios and walkways, but make sure some of those use permeable paving materials.  We want to keep as much rain as possible on the land where it falls.

We can plant shrubs and trees and groundcovers that are drought tolerant and will not need irrigation. More money saved.  Using native shrubs, trees and groundcovers will also support the web of life. Sustainability means supporting biodiversity. This is a big topic and  fortunately there are a number of books that can help gardeners make sustainable decisions when they begin to reduce their lawn. After the  talk The audience spent a few minutes looking at the books I had written about. Energy Wise Landscape Design: A New Approach for Your Home and Garden, by our own local Expert Sue Reed is a book that Tom uses as a text in his teaching. Beautiful N0-Mow Yard: 50 Amazing Lawn Alternatives by Evelyn J. Hadden and Lawn Gone: Low Maintenance, Sustainable, Attractive Alternaatives for your Yard by Pam Penick deliver tons of information and inspiration.  In her book The Edible Front Yard: the Mow-less, Grow More Plan for a Beautiful Bountiful Garden by Ivette Soler takes a delicious tack on reducing lawn. I also want to  mention Covering Ground: Unexpected Ideas for Landscaping with Colorful, Low Maintenace Ground Covers  by Barbara W. Ellis. All of these books will give you ideas about ways to increase the sustainability into your landscape and garden.

How much lawn do you need?

To see what else begins with S click here.

 

N is for Nasami Farm

Nasami Farm shop and classrooms

N is for Nasami Farm, the Native plant nursery of the New England Wildflower Society. Founded in 1900 the New England Wildflower Society is one of the oldest conservation organizations in the country. “The mission of New England Wild Flower Society is to conserve and promote the region’s native plants to ensure healthy, biologically diverse landscapes.”

The Society owns and oeperates the beautiful Garden in t he Woods in Framingham, Massachusetts which features the largest landscape of native flowers in the northeast. The Society offers programs, sells native plants and has a wonderful gift shop. You, too, can become a member of the Society.

Nasami Farm is located in Whately. Behind the handsome building which contains a small gift shop and classrooms are several large greenhouses where thousands of native plants are propagated and put on sale in the spring, here at Nasami and at the Garden in the Woods. The season will open on April 20.

Barren Strawberry, Waldsteinia fragrarioides

I have bought any number of beautiful healthy plants at Nasami Farm including Waldsteinia fragarioidies, a thickly spreading groundcover that blooms in the spring. I have planted mine at the edge of our road where I am slowly eliminating lawn. This barrenstrawberry is not a strawberry plant at all. It is so named because the foliage and flowers resemble the strawberry plant. I love the barren strawberry, but I have also bought penstemon and a native rose and tiarella. When I shop at Nasami Farm I know I am helping to maintain the food web, supporting the insects, birds and other  wildlife that help keep everything in balance.

To see  what else begins with N on the A to Z Blogger Challenge click here.

A is for Apple – A to Z Blogger Challenge

Clarkdale prizewinning apples at the Franklin County Fair

A is for Apple and I found 36 varieties of Apples with names that begin with A right here.  I’ve known about the Arkansas Black and the Arlington Pippin but that was the end of it for me. But there is also the Ambrosia apple, a modern Canadian apple similar to the Golden Pelicious, the American Summer Pearmain Apple, very juicy, the Autumn Gold apple, better than Golden Delicious and obvously, many many more!

I became interested in old apple varieties when I became a regular at my local orchards, Clarkdale in Deerfield and Apex in Shelburne. They have Northern Spy, Gravensteins, Winesaps and many more. I like to buy a bag of ‘pie mix’, several varieties of apple because my applie pie guru, Susan Chadwick, told me the secret of her fabulous pies is different varieties in one pie.

Taste, Memory by David Buchanan

Of course, I am not the only one who is interested in old apples. David Buchanan wrote Taste, Memory about old apples, and other old fruit and vegetable varieties that have been forgotten – almost. Taste, Memory: Forgotten Foods, Lost Flavors and Why They Matter takes us on David’s journey from the Slow Foods Movement to the farms and orchards of Maine where he now lives.

On this journey he met John Bunker in Maine, a man who really knows his apples. He goes hunting for old apples and has written his own book about apple hunting in the orchards of Maine Not Far From the Tree. He is a man of passion with a great sense of humor and great taste buds. I wrote about his visit to Apex Orchard with David Buchanan here

There’s a lot to know about apples like the reason Johnny Appleseed (born not far away in Leominster, Massachusetts, a town also known as the Plastic City) planted apples was because everyone drank cider in those days. And usually not sweet cider. Hard cider! And hard apple cider is another trend in our area. West County Cider in our neighborhood is a great outfit and make wonderful cider including varietals (just like wine) like Baldwin and Redfield, a pink cider made from Redfield apples that have red flesh.

Yes, there is a lot to know about apples. And a blog post is simply not long enough. Think of all the apples that begin with letters besides A.  As part of the A to Z challenge I will be posting everyday this month because although there are only 26 letters in the alphabet, I will be adding/publishing Between the Rows every Sunday so there will be 30 posts in a row.

A big  shout out and thank you to Arlee Bird who  invented A to Z Challenge.

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Jono Neiger – Mimic Nature in Your Garden

 

Jono Neiger of Regenerative Design Group

Jono Neiger of the Regenerative Design Group which has its office in Greenfield, spoke to the Greenfield Garden Club a couple of weeks ago. His inspiring talk explained how gardeners could mimic nature, and require less work and inputs to create a garden that would give us what we desire out of our garden and what wildlife and pollinators require.

He gave some very specific advice beginning with the suggestion that vegetable gardens, and gardens that need substantial cultivating be sited near the house where their needs will not be forgotten. I can tell you how valuable this advice is from my own experience. The Herb Bed, the Front Garden, the Daylily and Rose Banks, all of which are right in front of the house get more attention because those south gardens warm up first in the spring and because it is easy to do a small job or two as I come and go, in and out of the house.

It is easy to remember to spread compost and other organic fertilizers on our vegetable and flower beds wherever they are, but remembering to weed or watch for problems is easier when the garden is right in front of us.

Water is becoming more of a concern as we often seem to have too much or too little. This has inspired many people to invest in rain barrels which collect rain off our roofs to use later in the garden when there is a dry spell. Those who have used 50 gallon barrels quickly learn that they don’t hold much of the roof run-off and add more barrels.

Neiger himself has arranged it so that the runoff from his roof runs into a small artificial pond that he has created below the house. The pond holds about 300 gallons of water. When the pond is full, there is an overflow pipe that takes water to a small bog garden that he planted when his son was young featuring pitcher plants. When that area is full water runs down to the vegetable garden. His goal is to get as much use out of all the water he can collect and keep it usefully on the site.

Those of us who don’t have enough room to move rainwater across our property could buy a larger water tank to collect more water off our roof. We can count on that tank costing about a dollar a gallon, so a 400 gallon tank would cost about $400. We can also plant a rain garden that will keep rain on our site and out of storm drains.

He also told us that gray water is now legal in Massachusetts. If we can separate out our sink and bath water that gray water can be drained into our gardens. We would have to pay attention to the type of soaps and detergents we use. His passion is to produce no waste and to recycle any waste elements of our house and garden as much as possible. Compost!

He is a proponent of permaculture, growing perennial plants for food, as well as for ornament. He explained the Edible Forest Garden in terms that I could finally understand. The idea is to mimic nature in the way the forest grows with tall trees, then understory shrubs and then groundcovers. An edible forest in my garden simply means to include a fruit tree or two, some berry bushes and then ground covers. Rhubarb and asparagus are familiar perennial edible ‘ground covers.’ How simple.

If you are interested in perennial crops Eric Toensmeier’s excellent book Perennial Vegetables: From Artichoke to Zuiki Taro, a Gardeners Guide to Over 100 Delicious, Easy-to-Grow Edibles will give you full information about familiar and unfamiliar crops, many of which are hardy in our area.

Those of us who live in town will not be able to, or need to, include the food, fuel, fiber, fodder, farmeceuticals, fertilizer and fun that make up Neiger’s productive landscape, but all of us can include several of these elements. In the acre surrounding my house I have food in my vegetable gardens, some fodder for my chickens who then supply some fertilizer, compost for fertilizer, an herb garden for farmeceuticals and fun in the Lawn Beds that include small trees, shrubs, perennials, annuals and even some groundcovers. I want to point out bee balm, mint, yarrow and other pollinator magnets are among the perennials in the herb and flower gardens.

How many of these elements do you have in your garden. Begin with fun.

Achillea, yarrow, attracts pollinators

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While Jono Neiger gave us some new ecological ways to think about managing our domestic landscapes, Emily Monosson, PhD, teacher and environmental toxicologist at the University of Massachusetts will be leading a discussion at the Greenfield Library with those who have read Silent Spring by Rachel Carson on Saturday, February 2. This talk, The Relevance of Silent Spring after 50 Years, is scheduled from 11 am – 1 pm and is sponsored by the Western Massachusetts Master Gardeners Association to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of this book which could be said to have started the whole environmental movement and new ways of. “No book since then has had the impact of Silent Spring. Carson saw an acute toxic change . . . and synthesized an immense amount of research. The changes in our environment today are more insidious,” Monosson said.

Between the Rows  January 26, 2013

Days Grow Longer and Cold Grows Stronger

Paperwhite daffs from Brent and Becky’s Bulbs

The days grow longer, so even though we are ‘enjoying’ a week of zero temperatures – and below – we can feel the shifting of seasons. The paperwhites that Brent and Becky sent along with my order as a bonus to cheer those of us who lived through Superstorm Sandy are indeed encouraging.

I potted up my paperwhites in late November and kept them out in our bright unheated Great Room until January 6. Unlike most daffodils they do not need chilling in order to bloom but I wanted that bloom when the excitement of Christmas was over and when I was facing what I consider the longest month of the year, February.

Days grow longer and my lasitude begins to shift, but still the days grow colder which keeps me tethered to the house and as many hours near the woodstove as I can manage. This year I am not complaining about the cold. It is my understanding that one of the reasons for the increase in the number of ticks and terrible invasive insects like the emerald ash borer and the Asian longhorn beetle is the mildness of our recent winters. We need the winter cold to rid ourselves of these destructive insects. The city of Worcester, not far from us, has lost many of its trees due to a serious invasion of the asian longhorn beetle.

The days grow longer. What cheers you?

Full Moon Getaway at Stump Sprouts in Hawley

A Full Moon Getaway will be held at Stump Sprouts Guest Lodge and Cross Country Ski Center in Hawley to benefit the Franklin Land Trust on Sunday, January 27 from 1 pm on. Snowshoeing, skiing and hiking. Bring the kids! Soup and snacks for sale. Come for a full day, overnight or just for a Moonlight Frolic. Ski, Snowshoe, Hike and enjoy the beauty of rural western Massachusetts,  For full information about cost and events, which include a dinner click here.  Rain or Shine  Register here

Trekking over the snow under the winter moon is something no one will ever forget. Of course, froliking during the day on the beautiful Stump Spout hills is pretty terrific, too.

The Franklin Land Trust  is a 501(c)(3) devoted to the preservation of farm and forest land, and the rural character of western Massachusetts.  FLT helps farmers and other landowners protect their land from unwanted development. To date, FLT has helped to preserve over 25,000 acres of open space. The hills and valleys of the region—with their farms, sugar bush, rambling old New England roads,  and small towns steeped in history—are a unique and precious resource. Your support enables us to continue our efforts to protect this invaluable              resource. Please visit the website www.franklinlandtrust.org