the trustees of reservations
On The Land
The Trustees of Reservations

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Holly Hill Farm in Cohasset - Organic Farm, Education Center, and Woodlands with public recreation access and miles of trails!

Spring has sprung on the South Shore - birds are singing, spring flowers are blooming, and tree buds are growing fat!  It's high time to explore local conservation areas for vernal pool life - the 'clucking and quacking' of male wood frogs can be heard, and nocturnal choruses of spring peepers are a comforting sign that it is Spring (finally!) in Massachusetts!  Did we mention?  It's also time to think about local food and farms - here's a fantastic farm that we protect with a conservation restriction, which welcomes the public to enjoy its 140 acres boasting miles of trails! 

Welcome to Holly Hill Farm! (photo credit: Holly Hill Farm)

Holly Hill Farm is a family-run, certified Organic Farm in Cohasset where you will find hundreds of acres of pristine forest to explore, not to mention a non-profit education center for youth and adults alike!  One could be forgiven for driving the length of meandering Jerusalem Road, with its stately homes and views of scenic Little Harbor without realizing that a working farm and hundreds of acres of peaceful mature forest to explore are just over the rise.  A rather inconspicuous sign and a glimpse of a rustic 19th century barn are the only indication of Holly Hill's presence, and just a small hint of what is a very compelling community resource.    

Holly Hill boasts a variety of habitats, including mature hardwood forest, open fields, and even a small salt marsh! (Photo Credit: The Trustees of Reservations)
In 1980, the White family granted conservation restrictions to The Trustees of Reservations on 120 acres of their beautiful forests, fields, and salt marsh, which had been in their family since the 1840s.  The land had not been in consistent cultivation for decades, until 1998 when Jean and Frank White returned to Cohasset to fulfill their dream of returning to the family land to start a small farm.  Working quickly, by 2000 they had attained Certified Organic status for their produce, and in 2002, they founded the Friends of Holly Hill Farm, their educational non-profit dedicated to the White's vision of providing hands-on farm and nature education for the community.  Although Frank, a dedicated lifelong educator, passed away in 2009, Jean and the Friends' staff continue the vision with a year-round schedule full of workshops, nature programs, and day camps that allow adults and kids to learn, have fun, and get their hands dirty in the process!  Click here for just a sampling of this year's youth programs, and check out their blog for the latest news from their farm!

Holly Hill's year-round programming hosts eager kids and adults alike! (Photo Credit: Holly Hill Farm)
True to the farm's name, the mixed hardwood forest is interspersed with a large and healthy population of American Holly trees, which reach the northernmost extreme of their native range in Cohasset! Impressive old red oaks, shagbark hickories, red and sugar maples, old field pines, occasional hemlock stands, and even beech stands round out the rugged landscape of the forest, which stands today as a reminder of the area's natural topography and natural communities.  Deep in here, among the holly, tall pines, and oaks, it is very easy to forget the area is abutted by modern residential development and roads!  The intrepid explorer can find vernal pools, streams, swamps, a beautiful ice pond beneath a sheer glacial ridge, and even an impressive miniature gorge along a babbling brook, running between bedrock walls. 

Holly Hill's historic ice pond.  (Photo Credit: The Trustees of Reservations)
They welcome the public anytime dawn to dusk, but you might want to hold out for the Saturday April 20 Spring Plant Sale this coming weekend to get a jump on your gardening!  Come visit during the growing season for organic veggies from their farmstand, for a program or workshop, to visit Nugget the horse in the barnyard, or just for a leisurely walk by the herons and wood ducks in the marsh channels, or past the ice pond, and up trails canopied by hollies.   Keep an eye out for resident wildlife in the woods too!   The adventurous among you could get lost for hours just on Holly Hill Farm, yet keep in mind that the 112-acre Wheelwright Park and Barnes Wildlife Sanctuary abut the woods to the south - sure to keep you coming back to explore the wonders of both impressive open spaces totaling nearly 250 acres!     

Come visit Nugget - Just don't feed him please!  (Photo Credit: Holly Hill Farm)
The Trustees of Reservations are proud to protect Holly Hill Farm with conservation restrictions.  The land stays in the family, and our CRs ensure that it can stay a thriving family farm, a fabulous community resource, and protected open space forever.

Keep following our blog here, and check us out on The Trustees' webpage to learn more about the work of the Conservation Restriction Program!