Newton Community Farm
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April 2016

It’s hard to believe that this season is the 10th year since the farm began operations. In that time many hands have grown untold truckloads of vegetables and fruit, restored or built farm structures, developed classes and events for children and adults on and off the farm, and made the Newton Community Farm a tremendously enriching community asset. The news below details upcoming events and opportunities. Happy spring!

Susan Tornheim 

Newsletter Editor

From the Farmer

Welcome to another growing season, our 10th growing season, here at NCF. Over the past month or so, as we’ve been moving out of our so-called winter into spring, I’ve been asked repeatedly what the lack of winter means for the farm. The short answer is, I don’t know. The long answer is, I still don’t know but can take some guesses.


Those of us living in municipalities served by the MWRA and the Quabbin Reservoir may not have taken much notice, but 2016 was a drought year for Massachusetts. I haven’t checked the MWRA Web site this spring, but it seems reasonable to assume that the very low snowfall certainly didn’t do anything to help us recover from a drought year. The relatively mild temperatures we experienced (though we did have some very cold nights) will likely mean that more pests survived the winter. I anticipate that we’ll be seeing earlier and more intense outbreaks of many insect pests like winter moths, ticks, and gray aphids. And since many garden plants survived the winter, it’s possible we’ll see some carryover of disease from last fall into the spring. Perhaps the most significant effect, however, was on the psychological health of farmers who rely on snowy winters to be able to ski in the backcountry as a way of restoring their spirits.


In a sure sign of spring, the greenhouse is also starting to fill up with seedlings. People who participated in our Early Spring Seedling preorder will be picking up their cold-hardy seedlings this month to get their gardens off to a good start. Then there’s the 20,000 or so seedlings for our annual May Seedling Sale. And all the seedlings that we need to plant the field. By the end of this month the greenhouse will be bursting at the seams, and we’ll have overflow seedlings stashed around the farm in cold frames, high tunnels, and anywhere else we can find.


In addition to seedlings, we’ll also be offering a product called Compost Plus from Vermont Compost Co. (VCC) at the Seedling Sale. We’ve been using VCC potting soil for years and love it, so we thought we’d offer their Compost Plus to all the gardeners who shop at our sale. Compost Plus is a great amendment to add to your garden when planting, or to distribute throughout your beds to rejuvenate tired soils. Plus you can mix it with water and feed your houseplants!



The frame of our new moveable high tunnel is nearing completion. Our goal is to have it skinned (another kind of odd expression—skinning refers to covering the frame with plastic) by the end of the month so that we can plant tomatoes in it the first week in May. We’re moving more and more of our tomato-growing under plastic, as the quality of the fruit and productivity of the plants are both enhanced. Thanks to the National Resources Conservation Service for helping to make this possible through their High Tunnel grant program.


Perhaps my favorite sign of spring is simply the way the field looks—alternating patches of dark brown, freshly plowed ground surrounded by the rich green of cover crops still waiting to be turned under. It’s all so orderly. Too bad that orderliness is as ephemeral as spring.


Greg Maslowe 




Spring has sprung, and Mother Nature is enticing us to get outside and explore.


Farm Sprouts, Farm Club, and a May 5 early-release special offer you the perfect way to get you and your child gardening, exploring, and connected to your natural world. Click here for more information.


Ready for the summer? Summer programs are filling up, with over 50 local children already signed up for Kids at the Farm this summer! Farming, fresh air, and friendships are the perfect recipe for a memorable summer. For a listing of our summer classes click on classes.


Our Farm Sprouts are in awe of the new chicks that arrived at the farm last week―even more so when they learned they had arrived by mail! And of course, it was not long before the question was posed, why are there different-colored eggs? Do you know?


No, it is not that white eggs come from white chickens. And no, egg color is not dependant on diet. Egg color is, in fact, dependant on genetics. Up until now we have raised Australorp, Barred Rock, and black sex-link chickens, all of which lay brown eggs. But white eggs are in our future. For the first time, some of our spring chicks are Leghorns, which lay white eggs.


To sign up for classes, visit our Web site for information. Preregistration is required for all of our programs.


Alison Scorer

Farm Educator/ Coordinator


NCF Annual Seedling Sale

May 14 & 15, noon–3


It’s almost time to get your seedlings and start your home garden! Mark your calendar for the farm’s annual Seedling Sale, where you can get your seedlings for vegetables, herbs, flowers, and that favorite summer crop, tomatoes! Our greenhouse is already busy, and we’ve started hundreds of varieties from the same seeds that we use to grow our own seedlings for the produce we sell. So get the varieties you know are great and support your local community farm. If you would like to send in a preorder to be picked up during the Seedling Sale, please use the Preorder Form. Preorders are due on May 9 and are only available to Friends of the Farm. If you would like to become a Friend of the Farm, use this form.


Come to the Seedling Sale and enjoy a special treat to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the farm!


Volunteers Needed for Seedling Sale
May 13, 14, and 15

We are looking forward to our annual Seedling Sale, an exciting event for the farm and for the community of home gardeners that we support. And it can’t happen without our trusty volunteers―you! We need help in three important ways:


Setup and Breakdown – We need help on Friday, May 13 (morning and afternoon), to set up and put out the plants, and on Sunday, May 15 (afternoon), to put everything away. Sign up here!


Staffing the Sale – We need many hands to make the sale go smoothly. You can help by welcoming the crowds, assisting shoppers, keeping the tables stocked with seedlings, or helping with checkout. Sign up here!


Putting Out Lawn Signs – We know from experience that our many lawn signs are the most effective way to publicize the Seedling Sale. That’s what gets people there and makes it a success. You can help by putting out five to ten signs in a neighborhood of your choosing. Please e-mail Bridget at


Volunteering for the Seedling Sale gets you a huge thanks from us, and if you are a CSA sharer, it counts toward your required work hours for the season (full share is 12 hours, and a half share is 6 hours). So do a good deed and take care of those hours at the same time. Win/win!


2016 Flower Share Program



Enjoy fresh, seasonal flowers grown at the Natick Community Organic Farm (NCOF) and delivered to NCF on Wednesdays for 15 weeks from June 22 to September 28. Sharers pick up flowers at the barn at Newton Community Farm from 2:00 to 7:00 p.m. on Wednesdays or Thursdays. The cost of the program is $165 per share, a great value at $11 a bouquet! Go to Flowers for more information about the program and to download the enrollment form. Forms and payment (checks only) should be sent directly to Natick Community Organic Farm by June 1.


Dede Vittori


Author Philip Warburg
Book Discussion on Solar Energy

Thursday, April 28, 7 p.m.


We are pleased to welcome Philip Warburg to the barn at Newton Community Farm to discuss his latest book, Harness the Sun: America’s Quest for a Solar-Powered Future. Mr. Warburg will address solar energy’s dramatic rise, the challenges it faces, and how the people at the center of the solar revolution are finding common ground as they advance new ways to tap the sun’s power and steer America toward a lower-carbon future. This event is part of NCF’s new adult programming initiative to offer an array of educational events on a variety of topics of interest to the community in our newly renovated barn. This event is cosponsored with Green Newton and is free and open to the public. Preregistration is suggested.


An Evening on the Farm with Tom Ashbrook
Saturday, June 4, 7:00 p.m.

Please join us in the barn at Newton Community Farm for an intimate evening of stories and conversation with Tom Ashbrook, Newton resident, farm enthusiast, and award-winning host of National Public Radio’s On Point. Tom will share stories of growing up on his family’s farm in the Midwest and discuss how that experience informs his adult life and his perspective on agriculture today. The evening will include conversation with our own farmer/scholar, Greg Maslowe, and a question-and-answer period with Mr. Ashbrook.


This event is part of Newton Community Farm’s 10th anniversary celebration, and all ticket proceeds will go toward funding our educational programs for students in grades K through 12. Tickets are available now for Friends of the Farm and cost $100 each. Sale to the general public will begin April 20. Not a Friend of the Farm? Become one now and secure your place at this unique event!


Tom Ashbrook is a Newton resident and the award-winning host of National Public Radio’s On Point. He was raised on an Illinois farm, spent 10 years in Asia as a foreign correspondent, and was deputy managing editor at the Boston Globe. (Photo by J.Costa)


Interviewing for Barn Event Staff

We are now interviewing applicants to manage individual events at the barn on a per-event basis. This person will be the farm representative at barn events, opening and closing the barn on the day of the event, possibly setting up chairs and tables, and assisting barn renters to ensure that their event runs smoothly.


Selected applicants will attend a half-hour orientation before joining the list of people trained to be a barn custodian. Barn event staff need to be 18 years or older and have transportation. The position pays $15 an hour with a minimum of two hours per event. Please contact Howard Barnstone at about this position.


NCF Board Good-byes and Welcomes

In the past few months the Newton Community Farm Board has had a number of changes. Here we say good-bye to two members and welcome two.


Peter Barrer, Board president for many years, stayed on the Board for an additional year, until February 2016, to enable a smooth transition as Stephanie Cogen took over the presidency. Peter shepherded the extensive barn renovations, both external and internal, often acting as the farm’s general contractor, and was very involved in raising the funds needed for the renovations and for the farm’s new truck. Peter managed many of the events at the farm, and some, such as the Seedling Sale, grew from his ideas. During his time on the Board, Peter held almost every possible position on it. The Board is tremendously grateful for everything he has done to foster the farm's development and ensure its lasting vitality, and we hope to see him around the farm often.


Alex Ucciferri ended his three-year term as Board finance committee chairperson last February. As a Certified Public Accountant, Alex provided the Board with his financial expertise and advice. The Board is very thankful for his years of commitment to the farm, a commitment that often meant that he made the journey to Newton from his home in Framingham. We wish you the best of luck in the future, Alex!


As Alex rotated off the Board, Barbara Seal took over as the Board’s new finance committee chairperson. Like Alex, Barbara is a CPA, and the Board has already greatly benefitted from her advice and careful attention. Barbara is a longtime CSA sharer at the farm and has experience with many other nonprofits in Newton. We are thrilled to welcome her to the Board.


Lisa Blacher has taken on the newly created Board position of grants and sponsorships chair. Her goal is to help the farm develop its fundraising base by researching and applying for grants and sponsorships and to increase the farm’s visibility in the community. Lisa is a local artist and art educator with extensive experience working for environmental nonprofits. An overdue newsletter welcome to the Board, Lisa!


Lisa Schumann


Openings in NCF Leadership

Newton Community Farm has a working Board of Directors and several committees that oversee farm operations. We are always looking for people who love the farm and want to get more involved in the operations and direction of policy. We are currently looking for help in the areas of event planning, fundraising, and buildings. If you are interested or would like to find out more about these positions, please e-mail our volunteers chair, Lisa Schumann, at


Volunteer Highlight

2016’s first Volunteer Highlight is focused on Elsa Lawrence, a longtime CSA member and a member of Newton Community Farm’s Education Committee. Alison Scorer, NCF’s education coordinator, values Elsa’s input, perspective, and experience and the enthusiasm and passion she brings as she helps to develop and promote the farm’s educational programs. In addition, after some experimentation with mozzarella and ricotta, Elsa and her husband, Tom, have been teaching a cheese-making class, which they offer as a farm fundraiser.


Elsa can also be found engaging children in hands-on activities at the farm’s Fall Festival and Halloween on the Farm. She also sets up Food Month displays at the Newton Free Library and helps out with the annual Spring in my Backyard event. While she helps in so many ways at the farm, Elsa says that her favorite volunteer activity remains “harvesting the vegetables and all the other tasks associated with growing the produce, including weeding.” Her favorite farm vegetable: “Tomatoes!” A perfect combination with Elsa’s mozzarella.


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


Summer High School Intern Program
Applications Due 5/1


Newton Community Farm is now accepting applications for our high school intern program. Summer internships are unpaid opportunities for high-school-age youth to learn about organic and community farming in a fun, friendly environment. 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 (Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday) from 8:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. (with a short break at 10:00 a.m.) with sessions starting July 5, July 19, August 2, and August 16. Interns are also welcome to bring lunch and then eat with the farm team from 12:30 to 1:00 p.m. After the trial period and with the agreement of the farm manager, interns can increase their number of weeks at the farm. There are openings for eight interns per session, so apply early for preferred weeks. Go to for more information about the program and to download application forms (due at the farm by May 1).


Dede Vittori



It’s the beginning of the season, a fine time to remind you about the farm’s shared list of recipes, Shared Harvest. Here are three recipes on Shared Harvest that my family loves.

One of the earliest spring vegetables to poke up, asparagus is delicious steamed and dressed with an easy citrus sauce. Japanese Radish Salad is an intriguing way to prepare either red radishes or a white daikon radish. Need a main dish to go with the salad or the asparagus? Use early spinach to make a quick, delicious topping for pasta, Creamy Walnut Sauce.


Susan Tornheim


Farm Stand

Our farm stand will be opening for the season in April. The exact date depends on when the asparagus begins to sprout. Please check our Web site and/or Facebook page for updates. When the farm stand does open, the hours in April will be Saturdays from 9:30 to 1:00.


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


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