Willow Brook Farm - Pembroke, MA
Willow Brook Farm—original purchase funded by anonymous donor – 73 acres, 1997
Fleetwood Farm—purchase funded by anonymous donor – 20 acres, 1997
Gillette-Sherman—donation by Burton Sherman & Bob Gillette – 7 acres, 1998
Missing Link—purchase funded by donors and grants – 24 acres, 2002
Slavin Donation—donation by Sharon Slavin – 3.2 acres, 2005
In August 1996, a farsighted Marshfield couple offered to fund Wildlands' acquisition of a high-quality conservation property. Staff and board members explored 28 potential sites in 19 towns before deciding that two neighboring properties in Herring Brook Valley on the upper reaches of the North River in Pembroke were lands of exceptional ecological, recreational, and scenic value. Thanks to the generosity of the visionary couple, who donated over one million dollars to the project, and to the willingness of the owners of the properties — Connie and Marcia Crosby at Willow Brook Farm and Leah Conathan and Jane Cohn at Fleetwood Farm — to sell at substantial discounts from the appraised values, both historic farms were acquired by Wildlands Trust.
Willow Brook Farm lies at the confluence of the Pudding and Herring brooks in the Herring Brook Valley and is among the most diverse and interesting inland natural areas in Southeastern Massachusetts. The area is extremely productive for wildlife and conserves an unusual freshwater tidal marsh, a habitat type of both state and global significance. Tidal fluctuations can be observed here, some 11 miles upstream from the Atlantic Ocean. Within the valley lies a wilderness of more than 2,000 acres, which is a headwater area of the North River, and critical to water quality downstream. This unspoiled area, in which no development can be seen, is surprising given that the valley is surrounded by suburban towns and is only 30 miles from Boston. The diversity and interesting topography encourages visitors to return often to sample the changing seasons.
Begin your walk at the informational kiosk near the entrance. Trails and ancient farm lanes wander through old fields and dense woods that include old growth trees. This area provides habitat for a wide range of wetland species and an abundance of wildlife, including several rare species and a number of “Partners in Flight” watch-list birds. River otter, coyote, beaver, woodcock, ruffed grouse, and several amphibian species have been seen on the preserve.
Off Rt. 14 (Barker Street)
Rt. 3 to Exit 12. Travel west on Rt. 139. Turn left at lights onto Rt. 53 South. Proceed one mile, then right on Rt. 14 West at lights, travel 1/2 mile to Willow Brook Farm entrance on the right.
Parking area off Rt. 14