Chestnut Hill Farm programs and resources this summer (Updated)

Storywalk on the trails, play on the farm, special guided hikes, a hosted preK camp, volunteer opportunities, and more

Above: The farm still offers a wooden tractor and truck for play, one educational program per month, and use of the trails. Plus, it is hosting a preschool camp this summer. (images from Facebook)

I reached out to the Trustees about their scaled back operations at Chestnut Hill Farm this year. The response made me realize that there are a few more opportunities for public enjoyment than I was aware of. So before getting into the details of what isn’t happening and why, I’m focusing on what is being offered this summer.

Although the Southborough farm isn’t farming this year, a statement from D.A. Hayden, the Regional Vice President for MetroWest, pointed out:

As always, the Chestnut Hill Farm trail system is open to the public from sunrise to sunset and includes a Story Walk for children and families to enjoy. . . The children’s wooden tractor, wooden farm truck and Adirondack chairs are available for visitors to enjoy.

The statement also referred to the Trustees’ “monthly engagement programs”, a PreK camp they are hosting, venue rentals, and opportunities to volunteer to support “agroecology” on the farm.

Free Resources

I knew that the trails and Storywalk were open to the public dawn to dusk. (You can find the trail maps here and read more about the StoryWalk here.)

I hadn’t been aware that the public was welcomed to the area with the wooden play equipment outside of special programs. Below are related photos that the Trustees previously posted to Facebook:

Wooden Truck at Chestnut Hill Farm

Summer Programs

As for the guided hikes, the Trustees had been offering only about one educational program per month of late. That’s still true, but there is also another weekly program being offered at the site.

Guided Hikes for “all ages” coming up this month and next are:

Full Buck Moon Hike
Sunday, July 21st, 8:30 – 9:30 pm

Facebook post promoting Buck Moon Hikea tranquil evening walk under a full moon, or near-full moon as it waxes or wanes. Your guide will lead you along the farm trails as we take in views of the night sky and share an informal discussion about the traditional significance of July’s Full Buck Moon.

If you listen and look carefully, you may spot wildlife becoming more active at dusk. This family friendly event is a great opportunity to get outside under open skies to share the joys of nature.

(Adult $15/$25, child $12/$15) For details and to register, click here.

2022 Monarch event at Chestnut Hill Farm from Facebook post Family Walk and Learn: Monarch Meander
Saturday, August 11th, 1:30 – 3:00 pm

Did you know it takes four generations of the Monarch butterfly to travel from Mexico to North America each year? The first generation starts flying North and along the way, they give birth to the next generation, which happens again and again. Join us to learn lots more fascinating facts, like how they use two internal clocks and the sun to navigate to their new summer home.

Led by Trustees Ranger Bob, this family-friendly program will also teach you how to use the Monarch Watch Tagging system and become a citizen scientist as we hike the open fields, meadows, and forest of Chestnut Hill Farm.

(Adult $15/$25, child $9/$15) For details and to register, click here.

Hayden also shared that the Trustees are  “hosting” a preschool summer nature camp. That was news to me, since the Trustees haven’t been promoting a camp program. It turns out, that the camp is being put at the farm by another organization.

Summer @ Wildwood

Summer @ Wildwood posterThe Hopkinton-based Wildwood Learning Center promotes:

We offer a half-day child-led, nature-based summer camp with a focus on social-emotional growth, led by Wildwood staff, for children ages 3-8.

On Facebook, the camp is described as “a half-day child-led micro camp for kiddos”.

The morning camps are weekdays from 9:00 am – 1:00 pm for $375 per week. They are limited to 15 spots per week with priority given to current and past students. To learn more, click here.

Volunteering at the farm

Another way the public is encouraged to continue engaging with the farm is through volunteerism. Hayden wrote wrote:

Our Chestnut Hill Farm volunteer programs continue and are open to all, including volunteer opportunities with the trails team, gardening/weeding, engagement programs, ground-nesting bird monitoring and more. 

I looked up volunteer opportunities on the Trustees’ site. For the farm it was only showing one opening to apply for, Hedgerow Gardener, which required gardening experience. It seems that after I posted this story and followed up with Hayden about that, the Trustees updated the website. There are now four opportunities listed (none precisely the same as the original listing).

Hayden shared links for the updated volunteer postings:

Click on the above links for more details or to apply.

Private Rentals

Deerfoot Barn (from Trustees' website)Hayden also wrote, ” The Deerfoot Barn is available for community functions and private events. The tent provides shade for those who enjoy using the picnic tables at the farm.”

On the farm’s page of the Trustees’ website, under Venue Rentals, it states that weddings aren’t permitted, but that facilities can be rented for “birthday parties, celebrations and gatherings with friends and family”. Prices aren’t listed. The barn has capacity to seat 85 people and the oudoor picnic tables 75. Venues can be rented separately or together. You can learn more here.

Frankly, the private rentals is an area of operations that Town officials have expressed some concerns about. So, stay tuned for more on that in my follow up coverage of the farm, the Trustees, and the still unfinalized updated management plan.

Updated (7/10/24 4:17 pm): I updated the section on volunteering after follow up communications with the Trustees.

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