April is one of my favorite months to go hiking in the woods. It’s neither cold nor hot, mosquitoes aren’t buzzing in my ear, birds are singing everywhere, and I can always spot skunk cabbage flowers (which happens to be one of my favorite plants). I am amazed at how many trails there are both near my home in Hudson and near Stearns. Just the other day, I took a short stroll down the trail that runs parallel to our fields and continues for miles to the south and west of the farm. As I studied the map at the trailhead, I realized there was a lot I didn’t know about the history of Sudbury Valley Trustees (SVT) or about the Bay Circuit Trail.

SVT formed in 1953 and has helped to conserve and protect natural areas and farmland in 36 communities that surround the Sudbury, Concord, and Assabet River watersheds. Their reach extends north to towns such as Billerica and Westford, and west to Clinton and Berlin. In 1960, Margaret Welch donated the land where Stearns Farm is located plus an additional 70 acres to SVT, inspiring others to do the same. An additional SVT land purchase in 1992 made it possible to re-establish trail connections between the Welch Reservation (now called the Baiting Brook-Welch Reservation) and Callahan State Park. Our farm sheds are located at marker “D” on this trail map.

You may notice that the trail map also shows a section of the Bay Circuit Trail that runs along the perimeter of the farm fields. The idea for this trail and greenway began in 1929 as a way to provide access to open space for Boston’s expanding population, but it started to become a reality only after the formation of the Bay Circuit Alliance in 1990. The trail begins on Plum Island in Newbury and ends in Kingston, totaling 230 miles (though a few sections have not been developed yet). Visitors can access many sections of the trail by taking the MBTA commuter rail, other public transportation systems, or right from Stearns Farm! Please check out this amazing greenway map.

It’s important to learn about our past and remember our history so we can understand why our landscape looks the way it does. It is also crucial to know how our green spaces are being cared for now, and protected for the future. I clearly haven’t been able to even scratch the surface of everything there is to see in those woods and beyond, but I hope to take the time to find out soon.

Until next time,