at Fresh Pond Reservation
Friends of Fresh Pond Reservation and the Cambridge Water Department
Hello friends and stewards of Fresh Pond, and Happy New Year!
It is that time of the year again, when we simultaneously reflect on the year behind us and look ahead towards what 2017 might bring. (And on these colder days, hopefully these reflections happen by a cozy fire with a warm cup of tea!) Today I’d like to share with you some highlights of 2016, and invite you to begin thinking about the new year with us.
As most of you know, the Friends of Fresh Pond Reservation’s (FFPR) mission has two major emphases: education and stewardship. To this end, we partner closely with the Cambridge Water Department (CWD) to raise awareness about, promote educational opportunities within, and care for the Reservation. 
First, some highlights of the year:
  • We, along with the Cambridge Water Department, hosted 95 educational programs, attended by a total of almost 800 people! Of these, 30 programs were specifically geared towards families, drawing 262 children.
  • A shout out to all of the Fresh Pond volunteers out there! This year, you contributed a grand total of 1,529 volunteer hours. Thanks to all who gave of your time, energy, and expertise!
  • We also give financially to support the Reservation. This year, we spent over $1,300 to bring experts to teach about Fresh Pond Reservation’s flora and fauna. We strongly believe that the more we learn about our green space, the better stewards and informed citizens we will all be! We also spent over $500 in plant material for woodland restoration work. Thank you to those who donated to make this work possible! (To donate again, please go HERE.)
Second, more about our educational initiatives:
  • This year, the Friends of Fresh Pond Reservation and Cambridge Water Department offered almost 100 programs, covering topics ranging from fungi to herbs, wild edibles to native plants, owls to bats to geology. Bird walks continue to be our most popular recurring event.  We hosted 14 walks with 163 attendees this year. For a list of birds sighted, please go here.
  • At the beginning of 2016, the Friends of Fresh Pond Reservation identified as a goal expanding its environmental education for children. This year we held 28 Kids Walks. On any given Friday morning, you might find children on the Reservation rolling over logs to find pill bugs and worms, checking out the frogs at Black’s Nook, or looking for birds with toilet paper roll binoculars in Lusitania Meadow. In addition to growing our existing kids walks, we also launched an Afterschool Kids Walk for kids of all ages, as well as a Winter Nature Storytime. We held a number of weekend events for families and children, including an invasives removal volunteer event, a mushroom walk, and a bird walk. Look for more family-friendly offerings in 2017!
  • Finally, we applied for and received a grant from the Harvard/MIT COOP to pilot a Fresh Pond nature class with the Haggerty Preschool. With the broad goal of nurturing our future stewards, we will bring the preschoolers to Fresh Pond twice a month to explore, discover, and forge connections with the flora and fauna of Fresh Pond throughout the seasons. We will also be creating a curriculum for outdoor education that could be used in other preschools in the area.
Third, an update on our stewardship work on the Reservation:
  • Ten years ago, FFPR began a woodland restoration project in a half-acre invasives-filled area next to Lusitania Meadow. What began as a plot choked with unwanted, non-native plant species has been transformed into an area of healthy woodland understory full of native trees, shrubs, and perennials.
  • Volunteers gather on Tuesday mornings throughout the growing season to plant, mulch, weed, prune, and protect the area from hungry rabbits. Our impressive statistics for the year include more than 770 hours of volunteer work, 440 new plants added to the landscape, as well as the addition of a much-needed new fence built to protect fledgling plants from disturbance by wandering feet and hungry wildlife. Thank you to all our volunteers for your hard work!
  • Last March, the Friends group, in partnership with the CWD, installed 17 tree swallow boxes throughout the Reservation. Swallows were observed in, on, or near most of the boxes during May and June.  The two boxes in the Lusitania Wet Meadow provided participants on our bird walks with plenty of opportunities to observe these beautiful birds in action. In addition to swallow boxes, there are currently owl boxes and chickadee boxes on the Reservation that have provided vital shelter for (and many sightings of!) those bird species in the past few years.
For every project we complete, however, there are always multiple others we would love to implement with your help. If any of our efforts interest or inspire you, we urge you to join us and get involved! Ways that you can support our work include:
  • Volunteer! 
  • Attend our annual meeting and help brainstorm ideas for 2017. (Sunday, January 22nd, 5pm, at the Maynard Ecology Center at 650 Concord Ave.)
  • Share our events with your local networks!
  • And of course, please donate HERE!
And finally, we’d like to express our deep appreciation to all of you who work to care for the Fresh Pond Reservation. Special thanks to those at the Cambridge Water Department, the FFPR Planning Committee, the Maynard Ecology Center, the nearby Cambridge public schools, all of our volunteers, and those who contribute to Fresh Pond in a myriad of ways. The Fresh Pond Reservation wouldn’t be the same without you!
Catherine Pedemonti
January 18, 2016