Back to Its Roots
- David Ginisi
Dwelly Farm Field to Become a
Native Plant Showcase
Remember the Sesame Street song that challenged you to select which “one of these things doesn’t belong?” Well, if you wander through New England fields and forests, you’re sure to find lots of things that really don’t belong — non-native plant species that, over the centuries, have found their way here and gained a stubborn foothold.
Sure, vegetation like Glossy Buckthorn and Japanese Knotweed may be lush and green, but these “thugs of the plant world” find a welcoming environment, and over time, crowd out native plant species. While they may look like they fit in to the landscape, they actually are detrimental to the native wildlife that depend on native plants for survival.
The 68-acre Dwelly Farm on Barre Road in Templeton is a prime example of this kind of botanical invasion. Operated as a family dairy farm for more than half a century, the property was donated to the North County Land Trust in 2010, and is now the focus of an intensive land management strategy designed to turn it into a showcase for native plants that visitors can enjoy while exploring its well-maintained recreational trails.
As part of the plan, a three-acre native habitat field is being created — and the public is invited to lend a hand in this transformation!
On May 29, NCLT will hold a work day to pull out pesky invasives, and you know the saying: Many hands make light work! This “work day” offers a great opportunity for everyone who enjoys trekking through North Central Massachusetts’ great outdoors to honor the region’s agricultural history, improve the area’s wildlife habitat, and bolster passive recreation. Participants should wear comfortable shoes and clothes — and plan to get dirty! — to wage the weed battle.
The long-term goal is to remove invasive plants, reestablish native plants and pollinators and improve the habitat for the American Woodcock. When the work — part of a three-year plan — is complete, Dwelly Farm will once again provide great habitat for these plump, short-legged shorebirds found in the forests, forest edges, old fields, and wet meadows of eastern North America.
As with every project, preparation is the key. Along with the removal of those nasty invasive plants, the processed has involved removing a number of pine trees from the former three acre field, sowing native plants that will benefit wildlife, and planting native shrubs and flowers in the field and woodland areas.
“We hope people will join us on this journey by learning about native plants and wildlife with us, enjoying the property through recreation, and volunteering help the Dwelly Farm Conservation Area management project succeed,” said Jassy Bratko, NCLT’s director of land protection.
More Than One Day
But enjoyment of Dwelly Farm isn’t a one-day opportunity! The former dairy farm — one of 10 local conservation areas managed by NCLT — features a young woodland with lots of white birch, a more mature woodland consisting mostly of hemlocks, and a wooded marsh that bisects the property and is crossed by a 40-foot bridge. A looping, well-maintained and marked trail system extending throughout the area, Ms. Bratko noted, gives visitors an easy way to explore the various habitats on the property. And, of course volunteers willing to help maintain the property are always welcome!
The organization’s conservation areas, including Dwelly Farm, are open to the public year-round, with marked trails that are great for multi-use recreation including hiking, cross country skiing, snowshoeing, mountain biking, horseback riding and geocaching. North County Land Trust welcomes dogs on its properties, too! Group camping, placement of geocaches and event use are allowed with a permit.
If the Dwelly Farm project has piqued your interest in these local conservation lands, visit northcountylandtrust.org for an online tour of the properties located throughout North Central Massachusetts. No matter where your visit to the region takes you, you aren’t far from a peaceful and picturesque conservation area. And there are no limits to the enjoyment: NCLT even has mobility trails especially designed for people with limited mobility and for the GRIT wheelchair. §
Want to explore North County Land Trust’s other conservation areas? Links to each, with detailed information about the land and trail maps, are available at northcountylandtrust.org.
Here’s a listing to help plan your tour of conservation areas with publicly-accessible trails:
Flat Rock Road Fitchburg | 149 acres
Dwelly Farm Conservation Area
Barre Road, Templeton
Ebenezer Keyes Conservation Area
Gardner | 157 acres
Wilker Road, Ashby
Common Road Conservation Area
North Common Road Westminster | 16 acres
200-298 Holman Street Lunenburg | 21 acres
Gardner | 179 acres
Underwood Road Conservation Area
Underwood Road Hubbardston | 65 acres
Rhodes Road, Princeton