By Community Stewardship Program Manager, Conor Michaud
Better weather could not have been asked for during the first ever Brockton Nature Festival! Wildlands began planning the Brockton Nature Festival as an event to celebrate the reopening of the city owned Stone Farm Conservation Area, which Wildlands has been restoring since 2017 under a Recreational Trails Program Grant from the Department of Conservation and Recreation. For nearly a decade, Wildlands’ conservation efforts and environmental education initiatives in Brockton have sought to connect residents with the positive impacts of nature and the importance of land conservation. This year, we decided to take this a step further and create an event that would illuminate environmental initiatives in the city and highlight the community groups actively working to enhance the lives of residents and the city’s overall health.
At its core, Brockton Nature Festival was a community-building event where all attendees could explore Stone Farm together, mingle with one another on the Petronelli baseball field, and enjoy conversation over Brockton-based Lady C&J Soulfood. Good Samaritan Medical Center generously sponsored the event, allowing admission to be free and for $5 food coupons to be given out to the first 50 people to arrive for Lady C&J’s food tent. SignDesign and Gerry’s Farm donated decorations, while the Brockton Assembly of God donated the Family Ministry Center event space for parking. The city Parks and Recreation Department granted the use of Petronelli Field, and several city officials were seen mingling amongst the crowd and enjoying the event.
Although the festival was just three-hours-long, Wildlands led two hikes, a 1.5-mile traverse south-to-north through the length of Stone Farm, and a shorter 0.5-mile walk on one of the loop trails in the preserve. Over 50 people joined in on the guided hikes while many other groups and individuals decided to explore the trails independently, guided by Wildlands’ complimentary Brockton trail map. Midway through the event, Wildlands hosted a pumpkin relay race for families and the young-at-heart, with the winner taking home a gigantic glass jar of candy.
The success of Brockton Nature Festival was largely due to the community groups who tabled alongside Wildlands. The attending groups included the Department of Conservation and Recreation, Frederick Douglass Neighborhood Association, Keith Park Neighborhood Association, DW Field Park Association, Brockton Garden Club, PROVA!, City of Brockton Lead-based Paint Hazard Control Program, Boy Scout Troop 1046, Mass Audubon’s Museum of American Bird Art, Natural Resources Trust of Easton, Horizon’s for Homeless Children, Stonehill College’s Student’s for Environmental Action and Food Truth, The Farm at Stonehill, Plymouth County Extension, Massasoit Community College STEM Internship Program, Massasoit Community College Earth Club, Sustainable Massasoit, Merrell Shoe Company, Brockton High School Envirothon, and Good Samaritan Medical Center.
With the festival well received, Wildlands is looking towards the future and hoping the Brockton Nature Festival can become a staple in the Brockton community, acting as a beacon to connect Brockton residents with local conservation land and the groups who are helping to make Brockton a healthy and vibrant community.