307 Applebee Rd, Milton Mills, NH 03852

Woods, Water & Wildlife Festival: A Day of Fun and Learning

Moose Mountains Regional Greenways
Box 191, Union, NH  03887

Submitted: August 19, 2019


Woods, Water & Wildlife Festival: A Day of Fun and Learning

Attendees, volunteers, and presenters were all smiles by the end of the 17th annual Woods, Water & Wildlife Festival at Branch Hill Farm in Milton Mills, held on a beautiful Saturday in August. This annual festival is presented by Moose Mountains Regional Greenways (MMRG) and Branch Hill Farm (BHF) as a day for families to connect with nature, helping ensure that the next generation appreciates and strives to conserve the region’s natural resources.


An informal poll of what kids had learned that day elicited a common animal theme.  Recounted one smart young girl, “I learned that skunks can spray six times and then they have to wait ten days.” Fascinating facts like this were presented during the ‘Wildlife Workshop’ offered by Squam Lakes Natural Science Center, where Center staff showed a rescued owl, skunk, and opossum and discussed their habits. Other children were captivated by what they learned from Athena’s Bees, which displayed a hive made from a white pine column, simulating a tree. Reported one child, “Bees huddle up in their nest during the winter like penguins and eat their honey.” A Horseshoe crab shell provided by naturalist Jon Batson, a snake to hold from the Funny Farm, as well as the chickens, goats and a miniature horse brought by 4H for kids to pet were also popular.


Children had many opportunities to get physically active, engage with nature and make things. One little girl caught six fish while fishing in the Branch Hill Farm pond. Volunteer instructors from NH Fish & game were on hand to lend poles and bait and fishing advice. Down at the Salmon Falls River (one of the hayride destinations), kids used dip nets to look for water creatures. Dozens of families tried out the self-guided treasure hunt called ‘Kids Discover the Forest’ and the green gym in the woods called ‘Nature’s Playground’. Children  jumped at the chance to use a crosscut saw to cut a ‘Tree Cookie’ (slice of pine log) and decorate it, they inserted  hollow day lily stems into a recycled milk carton to make a home for wild pollinators at the ‘Build a Bee House’ activity, and learned to make cork boats with Acton Wakefeld Watersheds Alliance. Both toddlers and older kids played at gardening, digging and carrying dirt in wheelbarrows alongside Sheehan Gardens Permaculture Garden, where everyone delighted in samples of Mexican sour gherkins, a small round cucumber.


In addition to being MMRG’s biggest yearly outreach event, the WWW Festival also serves as the organization’s leading annual fundraiser, with proceeds supporting its land conservation and outreach missions. MMRG is grateful to festival underwriters, BHF/Carl Siemon Family Charitable Trust, Siemon Company, and D. F. Richard Energy, and to major festival sponsors, the Hays Dombrower Family, Peter & Susan Goodwin, Norman Vetter Inc. Poured Foundations, Bruce & Jennifer Rich, S&S Plumbing & Heating, LLC, Carl & Beth Ann Siemon, Henry and Junko Siemon, the Wyatt Family, and Philip Zaeder & Sylvia Thayer, as well as to many more sponsors, co-sponsors and supporters.


Moose Mountains Regional Greenway is a non-profit land trust serving Brookfield, Farmington, Middleton, Milton, New Durham, Wakefield, and Wolfeboro (see www.mmrg.info). Branch Hill Farm/Carl Siemon Family Charitable Trust is a private operating foundation (see www.branchhillfarm.org).


Branch Hill Farm is the venue for the Woods, Water & Wildlife Festival each year; photo by Kate Wilcox
Fishing in the Branch Hill Farm pond is a favorite activity at MMRG’s annual Woods, Water & Wildlife Festival; photo by Kate Wilcox
Kids love playing in the dirt at the Woods, Water & Wildlife Festival; photo by Kate Wilcox
Mother and child build a bee house out of hollow day lily stems. Mount the house horizontally for native pollinators to live in; photo by Kate Wilcox

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