Local Area Residents Give Back and Reap Many Personal Rewards by Volunteering with The Trustees of Reservations at Long Hill Gardens in Beverly
One of the largest non-profits in Massachusetts, and the nation’s oldest statewide land conservation organization, The Trustees depends on and is grateful for thousands of hours of volunteer time each year to help run and manage its 106 reservations for public use and enjoyment, including the Long Hill property in Beverly. Last year, generous volunteers donated nearly 60,000 hours of their time to The Trustees, up from 50,000 hours the year before.
Volunteers at Long Hill primarily work in the Flower Fields, where they plant and maintain a wide variety of flowers. During the summer, the pick-your-own garden is open to the public, who can learn about and collect flowers while interacting with the dedicated and knowledgeable volunteers. Although most of the Flower Field activities occur during the summer, there is still work to be done and Thursday morning volunteer work groups will continue for the rest of October. Recent activities included pulling out irrigation, cutting bouquets form the Fields, and delivering flowers to area senior living facilities. According to Long Hill Garden Educator Beth O’Grady, working toward emptying the Flower Field of all plant material will take the next couple of Thursdays.
One volunteer who has been at the Flower Fields this summer is Debbie Osborne of Essex, a longtime member of The Trustees. After attending some classes open to the public, she sent an email to Long Hill looking for a volunteer opportunity for her son who has a developmental disability. She says, “The Trustees properties are among the few places we could safely explore with our children because of the effects of our son's disability.” Debbie and her son Jon began volunteering at Long Hill this summer. Planting, some weeding, edging of the flower bed, compost turning, etc. are a few of the jobs they did, which provided Jon with a real sense of accomplishment. Debbie says, “He enjoys learning new things even if it is difficult at first. It has been a fun experience, where we get to be outside, be around nice people and learn new things.”
Gloucester’s Dorothy Batchelder, a member of The North Shore Garden Club, was also a frequent volunteer at the Flower Fields this year. “There is no ‘typical’ day working the Flower Fields at Long Hill,” she says. “Some days it is weeding, others pruning, edging or digging.” The most rewarding part, she says, is working with people who find gardening as rewarding as she does. “I also love the first time gardener who just wants to learn how to make things grow other than a house plant,” she says. Dorothy also mentions the great learning experience a benefit to volunteering. “Long Hill has enacted so many great ideas for the landscape that as volunteers we are getting a hands-on learning experience for free,” she says, calling the work “therapy” for sitting in an office all day. “It cleans my head of trivial cobwebs…as long as I can pull a weed and turn the soil I am a happier person. Flowers make me smile and bugs keep me giggling.”
Robin Holmberg, also of Gloucester, has been enjoying The Trustees’ properties in her area for many years. Having recently retired, she signed up to be a volunteer at Long Hill. She says, “I liked the idea that a group of people would be working together in a field beginning from scratch planting seeds and seedlings and then seeing the results.” She says it gives her a chance to “immerse” herself in a “garden environment,” from weeding and preparing the flower beds to planting the flowers and then selling them throughout the summer. Volunteering has also given her the chance to inform the public about all of the events happening at Trustees properties and get involved in the “Peter Rabbit” garden for children, where she participates in craft making and story time for kids. Robin calls her volunteer experience “extremely rewarding,” saying, “It’s amazing to look at the field in July and August and see the beautiful flowers that have sprung from all our hard work.”
To join Beth and the volunteers, or for more information, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 978.921.1944 x1825.
More about The Trustees of Reservations
The Trustees of Reservations is the nation’s oldest, statewide land conservation organization founded by open space visionary Charles Eliot in 1891 to “hold in trust,” and care for properties of scenic, cultural and natural significance. Supported by members, donors and thousands of volunteers, The Trustees own and manage 106 spectacular “reservations” located on more than 26,000 acres in 75 communities throughout Massachusetts significance for current and future generations to enjoy. The Trustees work to promote healthy, active, green communities locally and around the state by providing hundreds of year-round programs, events and engagement opportunities for all ages. Most property entry fees, programs and events are free-of-charge or heavily discounted for members.
Accredited by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission, The Trustees are an established leader in the conservation movement and model for other land trusts nationally and internationally. To find out more about membership, volunteer, job and other engagement opportunities with The Trustees visit http://www.thetrustees.org.