On an absolutely splendid mid-June morning, members of the Mattapoisett Land Trust, along with members of the community that proudly acknowledge being senior citizens, met at the site of a former pig farm off Bowman Road to not only walk the site but to learn more about land-trust trails.
Speaking on behalf of the MLT, member Paul Osenkowski gave a brief history of the property, the former Abel Grace farm, the condition of the site when acquired, current state conditions and long-range plans.
Osenkowski explained that, given the property was used almost continuously for several centuries and during Grace’s ownership as a pig farm and trash dump, the amount of rubbish, tin cans, glass, tires, and even a wrecked school bus had to be removed before vegetation clearing could begin in earnest.
Osenkowski said that some 200 tires were taken away by a recycling company and that thanks to the Boy Scouts and at least one Eagle candidate, the months of cleanup were eventually sufficient to allow other work to commence.
The MLT has a significant goal of making this property one that senior citizens of varying mobility levels can come and walk, take in the renewed natural beauty and thus be renewed themselves by getting outside and into nature.
Mattapoisett Council on Aging Director Jackie Seney was on hand to learn more in preparation for encouraging seniors to use these spiritually and physically renewing resources.
“Maybe they can only come here and sit by the pond listening to the birds; even that is supportive of their health and wellbeing,” said Seney, who also thought coming to this MLT property for picnicking would be good but cautioned, “Carry in, carry out, and be prepared; there are no sanitary facilities, just like most state parks.”
While it was noted that many of the MLT properties grant easy access for seniors whose balance and strength are significant, those with compromised systems might not be able to navigate the thick roots and stumps that pepper nearly all trails. However, this property, easily reached via Aucoot Road to Bowman Road by car or foot, lends itself more readily to those who must tread carefully.
Osenkowski said another nearby property that includes Old Slough Road works well for people of most abilities. “We have about 20 different parcels with trails that are loaded with wildlife and that are a valued continuum for different levels of hikers,” he added.
In acknowledgment of those whose work in establishing the MLT should not be forgotten, Osenkowski spoke of Brad Hathaway who was present and the late Blanche Perry. Pointing to Hathaway, he exclaimed, “You, You, You made this happen.” Hathaway graciously nodded and accepted 90th birthday well wishes from those in attendance.
Before stepping off for a short tour of the property, Osenkowski introduced Colleen Andrews, the first employee and recent hire of the MLT. Andrews shared her hope that seniors would visit land-trust trails, to find those well suited to their abilities, and said of the Grace property, “This is an amazing example of the MLT and the community can do.”
In a follow-up with the MLT’s past-president, Mike Huguenin, he said that the organization has taken on a tremendous responsibility as many of the properties now owned or otherwise under their care come with conservation restrictions and duties. “We needed someone to help us keep our documents in order, more than what volunteers could now manage. There was a growing realization that every time we took on a piece of property there were associated records, deeds, conservation restrictions.”
Huguenin said that Andrews would be handling a myriad of responsibilities, not the least of which would be social media, press releases, articles, event planning and membership drives. Andrews’ title is Community Engagement and Stewardship manager.
To learn more about the Mattapoisett Land Trust, visit mattlandtrust.org.
Mattapoisett Land Trust
By Marilou Newell