Newton Community Farm
If you are having trouble viewing this email, you may see it online here.

When I drive by Newton Community Farm, which happens multiple times a week, I always look to see how it looks compared to the last time I went by. It’s fun to see, perhaps, that a hoophouse is in a different location in the field, or that the crops are bigger, or that the barn looks a bit different somehow. This mirrors the changes I see in my yard as leaves pop out on shrubs and trees, and plants poke up through the soil.


Happy Spring!

Susan Tornheim 

Newsletter Editor

From the Farmer


After what has felt like a long, long wait, spring finally seems to be coming to Massachusetts. We’re still experiencing many cool days and cold nights, but the flowers are up, the birds and peepers are singing, and the farm stand has opened! While our crop list is still limited, we have asparagus and rhubarb, spinach, chard, arugula, radishes, scallions, and chives. Add in garlic from the cellar and some eggs and it makes a pretty good showing for late April.


The long winter and cool, wet spring conditions have made it tough to get our early crops in the ground, but we’re catching up. The peas are growing happily, and we have lettuce, kale, bok choy, Napa cabbage, regular cabbage, cilantro and dill, beets and sweet turnips, and the first couple of plantings of carrots all coming along nicely. The cool temperatures have also been giving us fits in the greenhouse as we prepare for our annual seedling sale. Since only small portions of our propagation greenhouse are heated, we had to “hold” tomato, pepper, and eggplant starts for a week or so before transplanting them into larger containers. Once they’re in their larger containers, there is no more heat, so we have to watch the forecasts carefully.


One of the plus sides of a delayed spring is that it has given us time to get to many projects that have been on our “to do” list for a while. We’ve been working in the Learning Garden creating stone borders and putting in perennial plantings and generally continuing the ongoing development of this part of the farm. We’ve also been able to renovate many of our perennial herb plantings that had become overly weedy. This spring we’ve put in new plantings of oregano, thyme, and rosemary and will be (carefully) establishing mint beds.


Our rabbit Snowy had only one baby this spring—unusual for a rabbit and probably an indicator of just how cold the winter was. The new rabbit is a male and is about two months old at this point, so he has been moved into his own hutch. We’re also expecting a new clutch of chicks to arrive at the farm. They’ll probably be here by the time you read this. We’re getting three different breeds and will be offering them for sale to anyone interested in raising chickens in their backyard.


lettuceWe’ve gotten word from the City of Newton that the California Street Farmers’ Market will not be happening this year. The market has been struggling for years, and the City has decided to make a number of changes that we’re very excited about. There will be a new market on Saturdays from 10:00 to 2:00 on Elm Street in West Newton where the farm will sell its produce. I think that the new day, time, and location will all combine to make this a much more vibrant market. As with the Cold Spring market, the new Elm Street market will run from the beginning of July through the end of October. I hope you come out and join us in supporting this new market!


As is always the case in spring, so much seems possible this year. We’re looking forward to moving into our newly renovated barn soon. We’ve got a growing group of high-school interns lining up for the summer. We have some new crops we’re trying out (like bulb fennel and collards), and a host of new fruit trees and shrubs going in around the farm. I love spring for the excitement that growing days bring. Every season has its own charms, but spring has a special place on a farm as we once again begin the ancient ritual of turning the soil, sticking seeds in the ground, and then waiting and watching as nature performs that most amazing of miracles—transforming soil and sunlight into the food that nourishes us all.


Greg Maslowe 



Food for Thought: Water and Agriculture

Check out Greg Maslowe’s recent article for the Newton Conservators, “U.S. Agriculture and the Coming Water Crisis.” There are many challenges for agriculture in New England, but severe water scarcity is generally not one of them. However, since most of the food we buy comes from outside this region, issues of water scarcity in other areas of the country will have an impact on us through a diminished and more expensive food supply. The article raises some important issues and will get you thinking about the risks facing our national food system. It also illuminates why developing a strong, local agriculture industry in Massachusetts and New England is becoming a bigger priority for policy makers and government leaders in this area.


Dede Vittori


Seedling Sale

seedling saleVolunteers are still needed for our annual Seedling Sale on May 17 and 18. Sign up to volunteer! Volunteering at the sale counts toward the CSA work requirement. The sale is a great opportunity for you to purchase vegetables, herbs, and flowers for your home garden. A detailed list of what we will be growing can be seen at list. You can help publicize the sale by downloading a flyer to share with friends and to distribute around town.  



Please direct questions to Mara at


Save the Date

Dinner on the Farm

Tuesday, July 15


Fall Festival

Sunday, September 28


Interested in helping to plan these events? E-mail Mara at


Mara Gordon



A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to spend a day out on Plum Island. It was a glorious day, and it was while I was there walking on the beach, through the marshes, and over the dunes that I was reminded how easy it is to miss the delights that naturally surround us. I had no time constraints so had the luxury of being able to sit and listen to the sound of the waves and to the wind rustling through the cattails. As I walked the beaches I noticed the varying patterns on the sand left by the tide and was somewhat entranced by the hypnotizing patterns made by the long stretches of reeds swaying gently in the breeze. I reminded myself to take the time to poke around in the tide pools, finding a whole array of shells ranging in colors and shapes. As I sat watched some of my fellow visitors, I ended up wondering how much they had really experienced of what Plum Island has to offer. Yes, they too walked the beaches and through the salt marshes, but some simply seemed to power through.


In many ways my visit reminded me of our popular Farm Sprouts program, which began again in April. We, too, have been trying to remember to stop and take time to really observe and experience what the farm has to offer. We have listened to the songs of spring, have crouched down low to look for the first tiny green shoots, and have then enjoyed watching them grow and eventually flower into the beautiful daffodils that trim the farm. We have breathed in the scents of small herb seedlings and have used hand lenses to look at the inside of a seed. We have discovered all sorts of treasures, sparkly rocks, small critters, sticks and leaves, and even some seeds left from the previous season. I guess for me the Farm Sprouts children provided me with a good reminder that I was then able to take with me to Plum Island: that when you slow down and take the time to observe and explore your surroundings, what you may find can be pretty amazing.


In the meantime below is an outline of upcoming adult programs as well as our summer youth programs.


Adult Programs

There is still time to join the 2014 Gardening Series, either for all three remaining sessions or simply as individual classes.
May 17 – Gardening Structures and Planting
June 21 – The Mid-Season Bounty and Thinking Ahead
The final session will be held in September.


If you have limited space available for gardening, you may wish to consider Plots in Pots, May 14. Choose plants and create a container garden that both beautifies your home and provides edibles for your table. Bring your own container and you’ll leave this make-and-take workshop with a container garden of edible plants ready to grow and enjoy!


Family and Youth Summer Programs

Farm Sprouts -- children in preschool and entering kindergarten

Meets weekly, choose your day. Tues., Wed., Thurs., or Fri., 10–11 a.m., 6/17–8/29


Little Diggers -- Students entering grades 1 and 2

Monday–Friday, 9–12:30, 7/7–7/11 and 8/4–8/8

1-week sessions


Farmer in Training -- Students entering grades 3–5

Mon.–Fri., 9–12:30 p.m., 7/7–8/25

1-week sessions


SAY Farmers -- Students entering grades 6–9

Mon.–Fri., 9–12:30 p.m., 7/14-7/18 and 7/21-7/25

1-week sessions


For more information and registration details on any of the programs mentioned, please see our education page. Preregistration is required for all of our programs. We look forward to welcoming you.


Alison (Wilson) Scorer

Education Coordinator


New Assistant Grower

The new face you’ll see at the farm may be Dan Bensonoff, NCF’s new assistant grower. To learn about Dan in his own words, follow this link to a short video:


Flower Love
2014 Flower Share Program

robinNewton Community Farm is offering a 15-week flower-share program for $150. Enjoy fresh, seasonal flowers grown at the Natick Community Organic Farm (NCOF) and delivered to NCF on Wednesdays. Sharers pick up flowers at the barn from 2 to 7 p.m. on Wednesdays or Thursdays. Click Flowers for more information about the program. Click 2014 Flower Share to download the form and to learn how to enroll. Forms and payment are due at the NCOF by June 3.


Dede Vittori


Two Board Positions Are Open

1) Buildings


Purpose: Assure that nonagricultural aspects of buildings and site use are managed to the best benefit of the farm and the community.


Hours: 150 hours a year, plus 8 hours a week during construction projects.


Qualifications: Organized problem solver. Experience in building design or construction.


Responsibilities: Lead Buildings Committee of board. Coordinate volunteers and contractors working on barn construction project. Consult with staff and volunteers on buildings/equipment/site/contractual issues related to events and scheduling barn usage. Develop a master plan for site and buildings improvements. Consult with farm manager on problems with buildings as they arise. Develop an annual budget for building expenses.


2) Events


Purpose: Make farm public events the best they can be for the benefit of the farm and the community.


Hours: 180 hours a year, sporadic, based on event scheduling.


Qualifications: Enjoy event planning, organizing, execution. Must be personable and work well with volunteers. Experience in event planning and/or food preparation is very helpful.


Responsibilities: Lead board on scheduling annual events like Seedling Sale, Dinner on the Farm, and Fall Festival. Consult with staff on event planning. Work with Fundraising Committee regarding fundraising events. Be a lead volunteer at events. Participate in planning for PR/communications for events.


If you are interested in joining us, please contact Barney Keezell at


Clara Silverstein Crosses the Finish Line and Raises Over $3000 for NCF

marathon cheering

A giant thank you and congratulations to Clara Silverstein for running this year’s Boston Marathon and raising over $3000 for our farm. We are so proud of her! It’s been fun keeping tabs on her training, trudging through the icy snow drifts of winter all the way to the recent thaw of spring. Her efforts inspired many people to give through her NCF fundraising Web site. On a race day that grew increasingly hot, Clara finished the course with style, even taking a brief photo opportunity with her NCF cheering section at Hazelton Road. We are so appreciative of her efforts and for choosing Newton Community Farm as her charity. As the signs held by her cheering section said loud and clear, Thank you, Clara!


Craig Bouchard


High School Intern Program: Applications due May 31

Interested in learning about farming? Love to work outdoors with your peers? Want to feel a sense of accomplishment after a morning of hard work with an experienced farmer? Then consider interning at Newton Community Farm. We are now accepting applications for our high school intern program. High school youth are welcome to apply for this unpaid summer internship.


No experience is necessary, just a desire to learn and work hard. The minimum requirement for the internship is a two-week trial period (consecutive weeks), three days a week (same three days) from 8 a.m. to noon from Tuesday through Saturday. After the trial period and with the approval of the farm manager, interns can increase the number of hours, days, and/or weeks at the farm.


Click intern program to learn more about the program and to download application forms. Click High School Internship Flyer for a flyer about the program.


Catherine Hanss Spills the Beans


Catherine Hanss worked as an intern at Newton Community Farm. In the interview below with Dede Vittori, she talks about her experience.


When were you an intern at the farm?


I started volunteering at the farm in June 2007 as part of our farm share, but in subsequent years, I continued spending summers and weekends working at Angino (including August 2012).


What work did you like the most on the farm?


For me, teaching the volunteers was the most rewarding experience I got out of my time on the farm. Each volunteer had his or her reason for being there, for being passionate about eating locally, sustainably. When pulling radishes and tying them up in bunches, or on knees weeding beds, you could always find someone willing to tell a story. There was the man who moved to Israel and lived in a tent for a year, learning the language as he went; the farmhand who used to be a dancer in NYC; my peer who could do tricks on the swing set outside the farmhouse from years of circus camp. It was really rewarding to take a skill I had been taught, such as harvesting squash without breaking stems, and teach it to others.


What did you like most about the experience?


I Ioved the dirt permanently creased in my hand, though I hated the smell of ripe tomatoes that stained skin yellow. After four years at the farm, I learned how to be faster at trimming leeks and more careful watering seedlings. I learned how to work hard and longer.


What kept me coming back over the years were the people and conversations we had at lunch. These were the folks who sparked my interest to start my own vegetable garden, to understand some of the flaws in our food system, and to pursue this nagging optimism for a remedy into college.


What year are you in college, and what are you studying?


I’m a freshman at Cornell’s Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, concentrating in agriculture business.


How does your college experience relate to what you did at the farm?


Angino inspired me as a middle schooler to start my own vegetable garden, both at school and at home. In high school it provided structure and pushed me to meet new people. And in college the ideas that I collected over the years have manifested into a passion. I hope to pursue a career in agriculture policy, acknowledging that all farms are businesses.


What is your favorite vegetable and how do you like to cook it?


I’m a sucker for a spring head of lettuce with goat cheese, walnuts, and balsamic.


Spring in the Orchard

With the addition of seven new trees this spring, the Newton Community Farm demonstration apple orchard will reach its maximum number of 36 trees. The apple cultivars are CrimsonCrisp, Crimson Topaz Liberty, and Roxbury Russet. All varieties are resistant to the scab fungus and have unique flavor.


apples in orchards The fruit of CrimsonCrisp is medium in size with a very attractive crimson red color over 95 percent of the surface. It has a very firm, crisp texture with a tart, complex flavor. The Crimson Topaz apple is medium in size, crisp and juicy with good flavor. It has a 70 percent orange-red striping color over a yellow background. The Liberty apple is large, with a red blush covering nearly all of the yellow fruit. Flavor develops over one month of storage. Liberty is resistant to fire blight and powdery mildew, highly resistant to scab and cedar apple rust. The Roxbury Russet is a crisp, tart green apple. It is also the oldest apple variety in the United States, introduced into Roxbury, Massachusetts, in 1650.


We will use the “Tall Spindle” method for these trees. Trees will be planted three feet apart, staked and minimally pruned for the first three to four years. All side branches will be tied below the horizontal to promote early fruiting. The tree is grown rapidly to 10 to 11 feet tall with no cutting of the leader, the top growth of the tree. After three to four years, the tree height is limited to 11 feet by cutting the leader back.


The farm’s apples will be sold at the farm stand. Last year we harvested and sold 150 pounds of apples, about three times the amount harvested the year before. This year we expect to have more than 600 pounds, with a potential of about 1,200 pounds. We will have a better count in about three weeks when the little apples appear and can be counted.


To become a member of the NCF apple team or for answers to questions, contact


Sam Fogel


Resources for Home Canning and Preserving

I’ve been preserving food on and off for nearly 30 years. It wasn’t something I learned growing up but from college buddies and roommates along the way. Early on in my “putting by” career, I was introduced to the “Ball Blue Book,” which is pretty much the bible for home canning and preserving. This was before the magical accessibility of the Internet, and my increasingly tattered copy of the Blue Book was my main guide.


For years I followed the recipes with careful and dutiful precision, fearful of spoilage, botulism, and wasted produce. And mostly what I canned was pretty simple and foolproof: tomato sauce and applesauce. When I returned to canning after a long hiatus (small kitchens and even smaller children), I wanted to branch out and make more kinds of things. That’s when I discovered a wealth of canning information on the Internet. I studied the information available on government extension Web sites and even went so far as to take a food safety course online. I bought a much-updated copy of the “Ball Blue Book” and, most recently, discovered a blog called “Food in Jars” (originally recommended to me by a NCF volunteer!). I now have both of Marisa McClellan’s small-batch preserving books.


Now, I do have to admit to a little problem with collecting cookbooks. It’s not that I need the recipes so much as I love the inspiration that looking through them gives me. I feel the same about the canning books I’ve collected. The photos and recipes spark my creativity and give me permission to experiment a bit with flavor combinations and ingredients. What I have learned is that you can indeed be creative with canning and preserving as long as you understand basic food safety so you are clear as to WHY the rules are in place.


So as we approach a new growing season and anticipate fresh food, take some time now and learn basic canning safety. Then feel free to be inspired!


USDA Canning Guide

Ball Blue Book

Food in Jars


Lisa Cohen



lettuceHere are links to dishes on the farm’s list of shared recipes (Shared Harvest Wiki) that use some of the starring veggies of May. How do you find the wiki if you want to browse? Go to the farm’s Web site,, and on the welcome page you’ll see a green bar at the top. At the right end of the bar is “Shared Harvest Wiki.” Click on that to reach the list of recipes. It has many excellent dishes to try.










Susan Tornheim


Farm Stand

Hours for May: Saturdays, 9:30–1. We’ll be adding Tues.–Fri., 1:30–6, the last week in May or early June. Please check our Web site and Facebook page for updates.


You can find out what’s for sale by checking NCF’s Web site, FB page, or twitter.


Volunteer Hours

Wednesdays and Thursdays, 8 a.m.–10 a.m., and again from 10:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m.; Saturdays from 10 a.m.–noon, May through October.


Wish List

Tablets (such as iPads, Kindle Fire, or Samsung Galaxy). These would be useful at events to note people’s names, e-mails, questions, and requests.


Please contact us if you have any questions about this newsletter or ideas for future issues, or if you want to be added to our mailing list. Just e-mail Susan Tornheim at For more information about the farm, e-mail our farm manager, Greg, at or check out our Web page at (or click on the image at the top of the page).
Twitter   Facebook    updates on class listings, events, NCF news, and more!
This email was sent to >. To unsubscribe from future mailings please click here.

Newton Community Farm
303 Nahanton Street
Newton, Massachusetts 02459