By Bonnie Adams, Managing Editor
Now that spring is finally here, it’s time to go out and explore the many parks, gardens and other cultural treasures that Massachusetts has to offer. Although the state’s beaches and well-known destinations such as the Boston Common are favorites, there are so many lesser-known gems sprinkled across Massachusetts. A great place to start when you want to find that new destination to visit is thetrustees.org, the website for the Trustees of Reservations, a nonprofit organization that oversees 100 places throughout the state. There you will find information about hundreds of things to do this spring, whether you are looking for a place to enjoy active outdoor sports, take a leisurely walk, enjoy a farm to table dinner, or attend a lecture or workshop.
As stated on its website, “The Trustees of Reservations preserve, for public use and enjoyment, properties of exceptional scenic, historic, and ecological value in Massachusetts.”
The Trustees was founded in 1891 by landscape architect Charles Eliot, who aimed to protect open spaces that were rapidly being consumed by the rise of manufacturing. Eliot proposed the creation of a unique statewide nonprofit organization – a corporation governed by a board of voluntary trustees who would be empowered by the state legislature to hold land free of taxes for the public to enjoy “just as a Public Library holds books and an Art Museum holds pictures.”
Since then the organization has become a steward for a variety of types of properties including historic houses and structures; gardens; gorges and waterfalls; large woodlands (500 acres+); working landscapes; early industrial sites; Native American history; and literary connections. Indeed, something for everyone.
Currently the organization oversees 46,000 acres, of which 25,000 are open to the public; 270 miles of trails, 116-plus places, 10 historic homes, eight gardens, seven farms, and two lighthouses.
On the website (www.thetrustees.org/places-to-visit/map-library/ste.org) there are maps for many of its properties so that visitors can plan their trips ahead of time.
Kristen Swanberg, director of public projects for the trustees, said there are a myriad of events planned for the spring.
“We have so many things for people of all ages to enjoy, including art classes, festivals, and farm-to-family dinners,” she said.
One of the newest things the organization is excited about, she said, is the KITCHEN, a 3,200-square-foot, state-of-the-art demonstration kitchen that serves as a community teaching, learning, and gathering place at the Boston Public Market.
The trustees will be partnering with the market to host cooking classes, including some for kids; wine tastings; and other events related to wellness, Swanberg noted.
The Trustees of Reservations own and manage seven working farms in Massachusetts: Appleton Farms, Chestnut Hill Farm, The FARM Institute, Moose Hill Farm, Moraine Farm, Powisset Farm, and Weir River Farm. To encourage people to eat locally, they also have Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs at five of the farms. Some of the farms sell site-grown produce and meat, and Appleton Farms recently launched a boutique dairy operation featuring fresh milk, farmstead cheese, and yogurt.
If you already know where you would like to visit, such as Castle Hill on the Crane Estate, in Ipswich, the website lists properties in alphabetical order. Or if you are not sure where you would like to go, you can put in either your city or zip code and a list of nearby places will pop up.
The organization also has a smartphone app (available on iTunes and Google Play) that will help find the perfect spot when you feel like hiking, going for a run, checking out a historical place or just finding a place to relax for an hour or two.
In May alone, some of the workshops and events that will be offered include such things as Master Gardener Home Horticulture Class, mindfulness, yoga, cheese-making, nutrition, planned puppyhood and dog obedience; DIY Garden Structures; chainsaw skills for women; and growing mushrooms.
On Saturday, May 20, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., guests will be invited to enjoy Home Sweet Home, a special chance to explore 10 historic houses including The Mission House, Stockbridge; Ashley House, Sheffield; Naumkeag, Stockbridge; Field Farm & The Folly, Williamstown; The Old Manse, Concord; Eleanor Cabot Bradley Estate, Canton; The Stevens-Coolidge Place, North Andover; Castle Hill on the Crane Estate, Ipswich; Fruitlands Museum, Harvard; William Cullen Bryant; and Homestead, Cummington.
No matter what your age or interest, there is something for everyone to enjoy this spring and summer. The nonprofit organization also offers different levels of membership for those who are inspired to help them in their mission to preserve the beautiful and cultural spots in the commonwealth.