Newton Community Farm
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September 2016

I’m convinced that it’s harvest time because of the weight of my CSA share in my bags as I lug them to the car. Of course, when corn appeared in our share, that spelled harvest. I hope you are enjoying the bounty of the farm.


Susan Tornheim 

Newsletter Editor

From the Farmer


I was recently interviewed by a college student who was doing a senior thesis project on food donation practices at for-profit versus not-for-profit farms in eastern MA. It’s an interesting question—how and why various kinds of farms donate (or not) food to food pantries and shelters. But it was a question at the end of the interview, kind of tossed out there mostly for the student’s own interest, that stuck with me. She asked me if, as a farmer working for a not-for-profit, I had taken risks that I might not have taken had I owned my own farm.


I thought about this question for a while before answering. Was I, and perhaps other farmers who worked for not-for-profits, more willing to gamble since it isn’t my money or mortgage payment at stake? After thinking for a while I admitted that it was hard for me to really know the answer to that question. I’ve never owned a house, or a farm, or even a tractor. The most expensive thing we have is our Subaru, and that’s leased. But if I had to take a guess, I’d say that, for me at least, working for a not-for-profit farm hasn’t made me more willing to take risks.


There’s nothing we’ve done here over the last 10 years that’s particularly risky from a farming perspective. We established a CSA right from the beginning because they can help provide farms with a stable source of income. In our first year we put in a well and a greenhouse to grow seedlings. Later we added high tunnels for growing tomatoes in the summer and greens in the winter. We bought a diesel tractor because, while more expensive initially, it will last far longer than one with a gas engine.


None of this is risky. A well is, especially in a year like this, a no-brainer. The greenhouse allowed us to produce our own seedlings at a fraction of the cost of having to buy all our plants from another grower. And the high tunnels? We got USDA grants to partially fund them, but even without the grants there’s strong evidence that, if used correctly, they can pay for themselves within only a couple of years.


Not very risky stuff. I think the big difference was that, as a not-for-profit farm, we were able to do all this so quickly because we can raise funds and receive donations. If I personally had needed to take out loans to fund these various capital projects, maybe it would have made me a bit more cautious, but not because they’re risky. Because I’d have to make sure I could service those loans on the income from a small farm.


This question, about risk taking, or more specifically about financial risk taking on a farm, has been on my and many other farmers’ minds this summer as people grapple with whether to buy water or use municipal water supplies (at very high rates) to save parched crops. While the drought has been hard on this farm like every farm, our investment 10 years ago in a well has definitely paid for itself this summer alone. We paid $3,000 to dig a well. At least one friend spent almost $1,000 this year for enough water to irrigate on one day. I don’t think working for a not-for-profit farm has made me take risks, but it has provided me with financial opportunities that are not always available to for-profit farmers. And I’m very grateful.


Keeping on the topic of water and the drought, it was interesting to spend a week on the Cape with old friends from California. It kind of put our drought in perspective. They’re well into at least year five of a very serious drought. I remember a couple of years ago when California’s drought started making national news, in part because it was causing food prices to soar. A lot of us thought it was a windfall for New England agriculture. We’d finally be able to compete on price. California’s drought was going to lead to tremendous growth in local agriculture. And it did. But that kind of thinking now feels a bit like bad karma—rejoicing at the Central Valley’s water woes only to realize that we too are dependent on a world that we don’t fully understand and definitely can’t control.


While the drought has been hard on this farm, as it has on many if not most farms in Massachusetts, I think we’re going to come through it fine in large part because we have not taken huge risks. We have invested wisely—in infrastructure and equipment that help us do what we do efficiently and effectively: a walk-in cooler; a well; a truck; and a couple of tractors; a greenhouse and a few hoop houses. It’s a lot of stuff if I had to pay for it myself, but I’d probably still have made the same choices. It just might have taken me longer to get here.


Greg Maslowe 




What fun we have had this summer! We had our first Zucchini 500 cart race, made s’mores with our solar ovens, and video chatted with our old farm friends Meghan and Joshua to learn about farming in Alaska!


Welcoming more families than ever before and launching new programs, including our High School Education Intern program, we have had a great season being outdoors, enjoying all the farm has to offer. Thanks to everyone who made it possible: our wonderful teachers, volunteers, high school education interns, Farmer Greg and Farmer Charlie, and, of course, all the families who joined us. We hope to see you next year for Kids at the Farm: Summer 2017. Registration begins January 4; mark your calendars.

Charlie_9_16.jpgAnd just because the summer is over does not mean the fun stops there, as Kids at the Farm: Fall Fun is now open for registration.


Did you know?
You can carve out “passed their best” zucchinis to make boats. You then see how many stones you can add to your boat before it sinks. I am pleased to announce that Charlie Ryan was our summer 2016 winner with his boat holding an amazing 62 stones! Congratulations, Charlie.


Alison Scorer

Farm Educator/Coordinator


Fall Festival on September 25

Join us on September 25, from 11:00 to 3:00 at 303 Nahanton Street in Newton as we welcome you to enjoy your local farm with an afternoon of fun activities. There will be live music, a sing-along led by Julia of Music Together at noon, pumpkin decorating by Becky, an apple-pie bake off (details here) face painting, and corn hole for your family to enjoy! And new this year, a Newton Community Farm Scavenger Hunt for adults and kids to do together. We are excited to welcome b. good, which will be offering healthy alternatives to fast food and will be donating all their profits from this event to NCF. Thank you, b. good! We will also have apples from our own orchard and delicious treats provided by our community bakers. However you want to enjoy the Fall Festival, it’s a perfect way to welcome the season!


Sign Up for Late Fall Produce Share!

Enjoy three distributions of delicious fall produce from NCF and other local farm partners. The cost is $150 per share, and applications are due at the farm by 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 29. For more information click on late fall share or download the 2016 Late Fall Produce Share Form. The number of shares is limited to 50, so sign up soon!


City Council Commendation

Farm_Commendation.jpgIn honor of Newton Community Farm’s 10th anniversary, the Newton City Council officially offered a commendation at the City Council meeting this past June 6. Introduced by City Councilor Cheryl Lappin, the City Council commended both the Farm Commission and the Newton Community Farm for making the farm a “vital institution for the Newton Community” and as a “success story for the use of Community Preservation Funds.” The City Council recognized the leadership of Farm Manager Greg Maslowe, the hundreds of thousands of pounds of produce grown by the farm, the establishment of a center for farm-based education, and the preservation and protection of this historic and valuable resource. Many thanks to Vice President Cheryl Lappin, President Scott Lennon, and the rest of the City Council for offering their support and recognition of the Newton Community Farm.


Volunteer Spotlight: Amy (Haixia) Wang

Amy_Wang.jpgAmy (Haixia) Wang has always loved farms and vegetables. Growing up in northern China, she had a beloved grandfather who planted lots of beautiful flowers and delicious vegetables in their garden. (Her favorite vegetable is spinach, which she likes to stir-fry with garlic and eggs.) Amy’s family owns a small company in China that trades traditional herbal medicines and agricultural products. After moving to the United States five years ago, Amy got a graduate degree at Suffolk University and now works at a CPA firm in Wellesley. Scanning volunteer opportunities on the Massachusetts Society of CPAs Web site about two years ago, she spotted a listing for Newton Community Farm. It drew her attention because of the farm’s proximity to her home but, more important, she says, “because anything related to farms and agriculture always interests me.” At NCF Amy has become an essential member of the Finance Committee and helps with accounting, including payroll and on-site cashiering at many of our events. Stephanie Cogen, NCF Board President, says, “She has been such a valuable resource to us, as we have confidence that any task she takes on will be done with complete competence.”


Amy has long been passionate about giving back to society. While in college in China, she volunteered for the Red Cross; she says she will never forget helping refugees from the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. Here in Newton she is committed to the farm for a number of reasons: because she loves the fresh vegetables it provides for the community; because she admires the way people in the community “like to contribute any kind of effort to make the farm better” (she remembers a woman who wrote a check for a $1000 donation to the farm while buying a $5 herb when Amy was cashiering at the Spring Seedling Sale), and because every time she is at the farm she is reminded of her “lovely grandpa.”


If you would like to get involved in the Finance Committee or any aspect of Newton Community Farm, please e-mail Lisa, our Volunteers Chair, at



The eggplant recipe below is a cousin of French ratatouille but without tomatoes. Several friends loved it as is, but I like it with more zing, so I would add a minced hot pepper and sauté it with the onions.



(from Nancy Criscitiello)


2 medium eggplants, cubed

2–3 Tb. olive oil

3 medium onions, thinly sliced

4 stalks celery, finely chopped

3/4 cup tomato sauce

2 Tb. capers, rinsed

12 black olives, chopped

1 Tb. pine nuts

2 Tb. wine vinegar

½ tsp. salt


In a large pot sauté eggplant in oil for 10 minutes, till brownish. Remove. Sauté onions till soft while parboiling celery for 3 minutes. Add eggplant, celery, tomato sauce, capers, and olives. Cook slowly for 10 minute or until consistency of veggies seems right. Add pine nuts and 1 Tb. sugar or more to taste that has been dissolved in vinegar. Really yummy on fresh baguette.


Susan Tornheim


Farm Stand

Tuesdays through Fridays, 1:30–6, and Saturdays, 9:30–1:00. Please check our Web site and/or Facebook page for updates, including what's for sale.


Farmers' Market

The farm sells its produce at the Newton Saturday market, which is located on Elm Street in West Newton. It runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. during the summer and fall.


Volunteer Hours on the Farm

Hours: Wednesdays and Thursdays, two sessions, 8:00–10:00 a.m. and 10:30–12:30; Saturdays, 10:30–12:30. Please read the information on our Web site about volunteer field work so you know what to expect. Then sign up online.


Please be sure to check our Facebook page before coming in case of last-minute cancellations.


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If you want to be added to our mailing list, click on list. For more information about the farm, e-mail our farm administrator at or check out our Web site at (or click on the image at the top of the page).
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Newton Community Farm
303 Nahanton Street
Newton, Massachusetts 02459