Last month, researchers from the Woods Hole Research Center put out a call to Wellesley homeowners, seeking yards to include in The Boston Project, a study designed to help researchers study the outcomes of different yard management practices in the metropolitan Boston area. This Massachusetts-based study is part of a larger project that compares residential landscapes in Boston, Baltimore, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Miami, Phoenix, and Los Angeles. The data they collect on vegetation, birds, soil, and insects of Wellesley will become part of a larger project that explores how homeowner yard management affects the wildlife and plants living in the yard.
Wellesley homeowners Henry and Judy Paap’s yard was one of those selected for participation in the study, and I was invited to stop by and observe the doings. All the Paaps had to do was agree to allow access to their front and back yards for one full day, followed by four or five shorter visits, all during the summer. The were assured that all the study information would be kept confidential, and that no information would be released that could be linked to them.
Only The Swellesley Report would blab that kind of thing.
When I stopped by, a team of five scientists, there since 9am, were fanned out across the 13,000 square-foot property, collecting soil samples and doing a vegetation survey. Methodically, they were working their way through the Paaps’ yard and identifing every plant species present. The were also taking various measurements of all the trees in their yard and identifying each tree species. They were expected to be there until around 5pm, so it was a very thorough study of the yard, indeed.
Margot McKlveen, Research Assistant at the Woods Hole Research Center and Project Manager for the Suburban Ecology Program study, took a few minutes to talk to me about the study.
McKlveen, a University of Minnesota graduate with a bachelors degree in environmental science and policy management, says the big picture the study hopes to reveal is observations and data about “…how suburban ecosystems from different regions of the country compare to each other. What we think we’ll find is that our suburban ecosystems across the country have more similarities to each other than they do to their native ecosystems.”
In other words, if I go to a backyard barbecue in Phoenix, it’s likely that I’ll feel right at home in a yard that will probably feature a green lawn, foundation plantings, and maybe a few hosta. In fact, McKlveen says I would probably be able to recognize species from yards across the country, such is the public’s level of national sameness when it comes to our gardening habits. “If you think of the ideal suburban yard, an image tends to pop into mind although in reality our native vegetation is very different from that image,” she says.
The study seeks to document decisions that homeowners make about their yards by finding out if the homeowners use fertilizer, employ a landscaping crew, have a wildlife certified yard, or include water-saving features. At the same time, researchers will draw conclusions from the data collected on vegetation, birds, soil, and insects. When all the information is synthesized, researchers expect to be able to understand more about whether how a yard is maintained has an effect on its vegetation, birds, soil, and insects.
At least three Wellesley yards will be included in the study. In choosing which yards to study, researchers required that each site meet certain criteria. Each site had to be within a certain census block because they are controlling across the country using demographic data. What they want are homes across the country that have generally similar demographics of income, age of homeowners, are single family homes, and are a certain distance from parkland and open spaces.
Here at The Swellesley Report, we were eager to brag to the neighbors about our selfless dedication to science. We also thought it would be cool to have researchers studying our yard, and envisioned ourselves supplying them with endless glasses of lemonade and making general pests of ourselves. Alas, we were not one of the chosen ones for participation in The Boston Project. Too close to open spaces, we were told.
Some other people have all the luck.
Pressed Juicery, a Santa Monica-based seller of cold-pressed juices ranging from those steeped in roots and fruits to citrus and greens, has gone before a Wellesley board to get permission for signs for a shop in Linden Square that appears to be in the space occupied by Pinkberry since the summer of 2011.
While big on cleansing through juicing, Pressed Juicery isn’t coming clean yet on any details about its Wellesley plans (“Unfortunately, I don’t have any additional information to share at this time, however, I’ll absolutely keep you posted once I do,” a spokeswoman writes). It’s unclear exactly when Pressed Juicery might be arriving. Linden Square property manager Federal Realty doesn’t “comment on lease related matters” and Pinkberry hasn’t responded to our inquiry.
But Pressed Juicery has been given the town’s blessing for signs it wants to erect in Linden Square at 180 Linden St.
If Pressed Juicery does, as expected, set up shop in Wellesley, it will be the third juice business to target the town in recent months. Thirst Juice expanded beyond Boston into Wellesley in November as the only retailer so far to fill a spot in the Belclare complex. Cocobeet opened in Wellesley Square in February. Other new Wellesley eateries, such as B.Good and CrepeBerry, have also upped the healthy food ante in town.
Pressed Juicery started up in California, and has expanded into Las Vegas, New York and Massachusetts, including on Newbury Street and in Harvard Square.
As for Pinkberry, we don’t know what their plans are. But there is a space in Wellesley Square that has been home to at least 2 ice cream/frozen yogurt shops that’s begging for a new tenant.
Over the past several summers, Wellesley has sometimes had a weekly Farmers’ Market, and sometimes not. This summer is one of those sometimes not summers, but there’s still amazingly fresh produce, beautiful flowers, and other farm products to be found at many nearby farm stands and outdoor markets. Here are eight of our favorites:
Where: 117 Eliot St., Natick
When: The Barnside Stand at the Farm is open seven days a week, spring, summer and fall during daylight hours.
The Farmstand on Route 16, run by youth in the Farm’s summer programs, is open Monday through Friday, 10am to 4pm, from July 1 through August 1.
Founded in 1975, The Natick Community Organic Farm is a nonprofit, certified-organic farm providing productive open space, farm products, and hands-on education for all ages, year-round. Committed to farming methods that are ecologically healthy and sustainable, the Farm places special emphasis on service to youth through year-round classes, work-experience programs and volunteer opportunities for working the land.
Natick Commons, at the intersection of Rts. 27 and 135
When: Saturdays, 9am – 1pm
The mission of the market is to bring locally grown or made foods to the community as well as provide an opportunity for music, crafts and community gatherings to occur.
NEWTON Farmers’ Markets, 2 locations:
New Cold Spring Park, 1200 Beacon St.
When: Tuesdays, July 11 – Oct 31, 1:30pm-6pm
Elm St., West Newton
When: June 24 – October 7, 10am – 2pm
Farm-fresh fruits and vegetables, turkey, beef, fresh fish, goat cheese, gouda, eggs, olive oil, baked goods, popovers, jams, jellies, plants, and flowers.
Where: 98 North Main St., Route 27
Hours: 9am – 6pm, daily
Dowse Orchards is a Massachusetts Century Farm with a 200-year history of family production in apples, vegetables, greenhouse crops, flowers, christmas trees and pumpkins, to name just a few. The roadside farm stand has been in operation for more than 60 years, selling the products raised on the farm on a seasonal basis.
Where: 397 Boston Post Rd.
When: Wednesdays, noon – 5pm, through October 11
The Farmers’ Market at Russell’s features Massachusetts-grown vegetables, fruit, bread, baked goods (including pies), eggs, locally made pasta and cheese, fresh pork, lamb, fish and lobster, and more. Plus, you can wander Russell’s garden center for everything you could possibly need to make your yard beautiful.
WESTON: Land’s Sake Farm, Farmstand
Where: 90 Wellesley St., Weston
When: Tuesday – Friday, 11am – 7pm; Saturday – Sunday, 11am – 4pm; Closed Mondays
Open through October 29
The Land’s Sake Farm Stand features in season produce grown using organic methods from its own farm. Located in the center of Weston, it’s easy to swing by and stock up for the week or pick up a few things for dinner. In addition to a diverse selection of vegetable crops, the small-scale farm offers other local produce and artisan products.
Wellesley Food Pantry is asking people to remember to clean out their pantries and cupboards before going away this summer, especially for items that are close to their expiration dates. WFP relies on the community’s generosity to support the needs of the 400+ Wellesley residents who use the pantry.
Summer is a leaner time for the pantry, as many donors are away. But the outfit’s needs don’t abate, especially considering that kids don’t have access to reduced price or free meals from the schools.