You can learn a lot about a community by looking at it's green space. Can farmers, families, and dogs coexist, and find their happy place? For Durham, Wagon Hill is that spot.
In 1989, the Town of Durham acquired the 139-acre property located 3 miles east of downtown on Route 4. The goal was to "preserve its scenic vistas, provide for municipal purposes and preserve open space in order to provide a healthful and attractive outdoor environment for work and recreation, and to conserve land, water, forest, and wildlife resources. " That's a long-winded way of saying the town gained
a beautiful spot that encourages people to enjoy the outdoors.
One question I've always wondered about Wagon Hill Farm is how it got it's name. I thought the wagons headed west long ago. Why did one get stranded in Durham? Loring and Mary Jane Tirell moved to what was known as Chesley Farm in the late 60's. In the fall of 1968, Loring purchased a beer-hauling wagon at an auction and placed it at the top of the hill. He thought it would make a picturesque silhouette, and he was obviously right. Jean and Howard Brooks replaced the old wagon in 1990 and established a trust to ensure it be would cared for in the future.
When your dog gives you this look, they're either hungry or looking for a walk. As long as they have decent manners, dogs can go off leash between 8-10am. During those hours you'll find a friendly mix of humans and pets out for a morning stroll. Poop bags and trash barrels are conveniently located on the trails.
If your dog is a swimmer, you're in luck. There is a small sandy entry that allows easy access to the Great Bay. One thing to keep in mind is that the water level is influenced by tides. The Lab pictured above is not intimidated by mud flats but still wants a ride home. Checking the tide chart can help you plan ahead. If you forget to check, there is a hose available at the community gardens from April to October.
Since it was originally a farm, you might wonder if there is still any farming going on. Just past the newly built barn, you'll find the Wagon Hill Community Gardens. Gardeners can rent a plot for $30 per year, and applications can be found at communitygardensforall.org. Plots are assigned during the kickoff meeting at the beginning of March. The fee includes a raised bed, soil amendments, hay, and the use of tools. No need to worry about lack of
gardening experience! Members from the Wagon Hill Community Gardens and Durham Agricultural Commission provide educational programs, and work to promote local food production. Each growing season, some of the fresh produce at the gardens is donated to local food pantries.
Make sure to check out the Durham Parks and Recreation website. During the summer, they host a family camping night and Durham Days at Wagon Hill. Lace up your boots, grab your dog, and enjoy the view!