The Old Farm Road winds through our meadow toward Jewett Brook. On the right, a clump of sumac marks the site of the farmhouse. A spur to the left, follows a causeway to the wetland boardwalk, a raised walkway into a beaver habitat. A crossover trail passes beside an old apple tree and the site of the barn.
This meadow is a field habitat, vegetated by grasses and non-woody plants. It is mowed annually to prevent woody growth from taking hold and ultimately taking over the area. From spring through summer, this sunny area produces a succession of wildflowers that are of utmost importance to insects and bees. Its stands of milkweed have always, and, we hope, will again support the monarch butterfly. Wildlife thrives here, finding essential conditions for nesting, shelter and gathering food.
Come fall, poison parsnip (Pastinaca sativa) takes over. This vigorous, invasive plant can cause a painful, persistent rash if touched while it is in flower. The Old Farm Road is mowed wide to allow walkers to pass through the meadow without brushing against the plant.
The Old Farm Road drops from the meadow to cross Jewett Brook. When the land was farmed, the brook was ditched and drained to make the surrounding land pasture. Today, Jewett Brook meanders through scrubby growth and tall grasses, creating ideal habitat for wetland birds, animals and insects.
A Timber Bridge takes visitors safely across the stream and opens expansive vistas both up- and downstream. The pond to the north has been scoured out by the brook over the decades. The big pipe is a beaver baffle, ready should beavers undertake another dam under the bridge. Explore the edges of the brook for amphibians and animal tracks.
A few feet beyond the bridge, The Old Farm Road runs into the trolley line trail. In its heyday, its cars ran from Bennington to North Adams, MA, the last run in September 1929. Every so often, a can or glass bottle that was heaved out a window so many years ago is unearthed by the frost. This trail provides excellent views across the wetland and separates the marsh to its west from the woodland to the east. This borderline habitat provides abundant food and shelter for birds and animals. As the trail comes to the end of the Reserve property, a short spur trail leads west to a grassy knoll shaded by pine trees and overlooking the wetland.
Our wooded hillside, once cleared for pasture, corn and other crops, is now a mature forest. Two trails give access to this area. The Birch Overlook Trail climbs to a rocky outcropping that provides a fine view across the valley to Mt. Anthony then drops to a kettle pond. The Woodland Loop forges off the Birch Overlook, swings through the forest and returns to the Overlook at the outcropping. Along the trail, look for signs of the former farm—stone fences, the plot of maple trees that were once a sugarbush, piles of small rocks that were cleared to make way for a plow, and “line trees” – stately, old trees that defined the edges of the fields and croplands.
Today, the forest is managed for wildlife habitat and education. Mast trees–beech, oak, butternut, apple and other trees providing nuts or fruit for wildlife—are released from competition of non-fruit producing trees and vines. Invasive shrubs and vines, typical of grown-up farmland, threaten the health of this forest, too. Their spread is being controlled by a regular program of eradication.
NOTE: One World Conservation Center has closed. The trails remain accessible.
Pets on leash are welcome on all OWCC trails.
What to see now at the reserve: http://oneworldconservationcenter.org/see-now-reserve/
For more information, visit One World Conservation Center Online, or contact:
Jock Irons at email@example.comOne World Conservation Center
The One World Conservation Center is located just 1.3 miles from the downtown four corners in Bennington, Vermont on Route 7. The trailhead is across the street.
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