Newton Community Farm
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June 2015

A number of people write the articles in the farm newsletter. Sometimes people not closely associated with the farm offer to write, which is wonderful. One such person is Elise Simons, who has written her second article for the newsletter, called “Keeping It Local: Farmstead Table.” Thanks, Elise!

Susan Tornheim 

Newsletter Editor

From the Farmer

You might say that the farm is starting to go to the birds. Not in the bad, things are getting a bit bedraggled kind of way. More in the literal sense: We’re being taken over by birds who’ve decided that the farm is a pretty good home. Late last summer our flock of laying hens was joined by Mr. Bulger, as we call him/her—a pure white dove who moved into the chicken coop on its own. At first the chickens hated Mr. Bulger. They tried to peck the poor dove any chance they could get. After almost a year, they seem to have accepted his (we’ll call him a “he” since we’ve given him a male name) presence in their midst, though they’ll still occasionally give him whack to remind him he’s not, actually, a chicken. Casey the farm dog also has mixed feelings about Mr. Bulger. On the one hand, she barks and runs after him every time she sees him. On the other, she’s pretty happy to be able to see him. She’s pretty blind at this point, and his bright white plumage is about the only thing that penetrates the fog of her cataracts.


Our other avian “friend” is a huge red-tailed hawk who has realized that our flock of chickens is kind of like a moving smorgasbord. Starting last fall the hawk began devastating our flock, reducing its numbers by almost a third. Thankfully the chickens have wised up a bit; we still have a few incidences, but fewer casualties. Yet despite the increased difficulty in snagging a farm-fresh chicken McNugget, the hawk remains a constant presence on the farm. People driving down Winchester Street often stop their cars and stare in amazement as it sits on a fence or signpost on the side of the road. A few weeks ago when I was doing some mulching, I looked up as I was loading wood chips into a wheelbarrow only to see the hawk sitting five feet away from me on top of the pile!


Like Casey and Mr. Bulger, I have mixed feelings about the hawk. On the one hand, I’m not happy to have lost so many chickens. It also makes me a bit nervous to have an animal with talons I’m sure could rip what little hair I have left clean off so blasé about my presence that I can come within a few yards of it. But on the other hand, every time I see it sitting around the farm munching away on a vole, I smile. Not that I have anything personal against rodents. But they did kill a number of our fruit trees this winter. And it is, at the end of the day, pretty darn amazing to see a truly regal animal up close and personal. I try to keep that in mind when it eats a chicken: This is nature at work.


We’ve had some other interesting bird encounters at the farm as well, though not so prolonged as Mr. Bulger and our resident hawk. Early last summer I went out to the chicken coop to do the morning chores and found a brilliantly colored little bird—not sure if it was a parakeet or a small parrot or what, but it was yellow and red and blue and green—hanging out on top of the coop. I figured it must have flown out of someone’s window, or escaped from the Petco on Highland Avenue. I tried a few times to catch it, thinking that someone would surely want such a pretty little bird back. Alas, birds can fly and I cannot, which made catching it difficult. It eventually flew high into a tree over the greenhouse and I gave up, returning to my chores. I never saw it again but found it interesting that an escaped bird would seek refuge? community? or something else with another species of bird.


We frequently hear a great horned owl hooting away in the woods behind the farm. A couple of years ago Jessica and I were taking Casey out for her before-bed walk when a blur of feathers swooshed past Jessica, brushing her head lightly. We watched, stunned, as the owl that had almost just hit her flew across the field (hopefully on its way to eating a rodent, though again, I have nothing personal against rodents).


Hawks, owls, other varieties of hawks besides red tailed, parakeets, doves, lots and lots of migratory birds of various kinds (oriels, swallows, titmice, killdeer, finches, cardinals, woodcock and many more). Seems like the farm is going to the birds. One of the most exciting, though, was this past winter. It was either January or February, one of those very cold, very snowy months we’re all trying to forget. I was sledding at the golf course by the farm with my kids and some of their friends when I looked up and saw a bald eagle fly low overhead. I’ve seen lots of bald eagles—we see them in both Colorado and Kentucky pretty regularly. But I’d never seen one in Massachusetts, especially eastern Massachusetts. At a time when so much of the news about the environment is bad, it’s encouraging to see signs that other species are finding ways to make a go of it in our ever-changing world. And that the farm seems like a pretty good place for many of them.


Greg Maslowe 




June marks the beginning of our youth summer programs, with children of all ages coming to spend time on the farm. For me, it is always nice to see a combination of old friends returning and new friends joining us for the first time. Over this past month I have had the opportunity to work with and welcome many new faces into our farm community.


On May 21 preschool friends from the Meeting House Child Care Center came to visit and enjoyed meeting the new chicks, weeding, and learning about leaves and why they are such an important part of the plant. If you are interested in bringing our preschool program to your school, please contact Alison Scorer at for more information. Students in the afterschool program at Solomon Schechter Day School are visiting the farm now as part of a six-week program. We have planted sample vegetable containers and potatoes in the Learning Garden, weeded, and had great bug discoveries: millipedes, grasshoppers, daddy long legs, moths, worms, and roly polys, to name just a few.


The intergenerational program Bridges: Our Smarts at the John M. Barry Boys and Girls Club has provided a great opportunity to bring local teens and older adults together to explore the many ways that we are smart through activities and discussions related to nature. Over the weeks we have learned not only about each other but also a lot about ourselves, with many of us being challenged to step outside our comfort zones. At the halfway point in our program, I want to thank the teens for their participation, the staff at the Boys and Girls Club for their support, as well as our wonderful older volunteers. I am looking forward to the second part of this adventure.


We have also had the opportunity to work with a number of youngsters in Charlestown. Through collaboration with Kids Cooking Green, a local cooking program, we explored with children at The Kennedy Center the importance of looking after our soil, a precious natural resource, before planting a salad mix that they will later harvest and enjoy. Elsewhere in Charlestown an after-school program for children at the Charlestown Nursery School proved popular, with us delving into finding out just what is inside a seed. I look forward to a second visit in the month of June.


So whether you are an old friend or a new friend, we hope that we will see you soon.


Upcoming Classes

Preregistration is required for all of our programs. For more information on individual classes and to register, please visit


6/9 – Kids Farm Cooking, 1:30–2:30 p.m.

In this class students will use seasonal produce to prepare and then enjoy together a tasty treat or two. Depending on availability we may prepare something sweet or savory, cooked or raw. Students will leave with recipes from the day that can be repeated at home.


6/13 – The Mid-Season Bounty and Thinking Ahead, 9:00 a.m.–noon

In this gardening class topics covered include weeding, harvesting, and tips on storing your harvest as well as planning for the late harvest.


Summer Fun

We still have spaces in our summer youth programs! For more information and to register please visit our Web site at


Farm Sprouts (preschool and kindergarten) – offered 6/16–8/21, meets weekly; choose your day


Little Diggers (entering grades 1 and 2) – offered 6/29–8/7, one-week sessions


Farmer in Training (entering grades 3–5) – offered 7/20–7/31 and 8/10–8/21, one-week sessions


Socially Aware Young Farmers (entering grades 6–9) – offered week of 7/13


Alison Scorer

Farm Educator/ Coordinator


Dinner on the Farm

Newton Community Farm invites you to our annual Dinner on the Farm, Tuesday, July 14, from 6:30 to 9:00. In the heart of the summer and the growing season, spend a beautiful evening on the farm, enjoying music by the old-time string band Dixie Butterhounds, wine and beer, and with a bit of luck, a sunset over the fields from the vantage of our new deck. The dinner, served buffet style, will feature the farm’s own produce and will offer both vegetarian and vegan dishes. Your ticket, $65, and $55 for Friends of the Farm, covers the cost of the dinner and an additional contribution to the NCF Education Program. Click for tickets, and to become a Friend of the Farm. If you would like to volunteer to help with this event, please sign up.


Join the Board

The Newton Community Farm has several openings on our Board of Directors where you can use your experience, expertise, energy, and imagination to support the farm. We are a small organization, and our working Board influences both the short term and future direction of the farm. You can make a real difference and contribution to the community. Board seats are available in the following areas: Events, Volunteers, Buildings, and Finance. If you have an interest in exploring these opportunities, please contact Shanel Antunes, administrator, at


Keeping It Local: Farmstead Table

Today the concept of “buying local” is so widespread that the term has almost become a cliché. However ubiquitous the statement, it still rings true: Local organic produce is simply better―for your health, for the environment, and for the social and economic vitality of your community.


Farmstead Table, a locally owned restaurant in Newton Centre, has long understood the importance of supporting local farmers, not to mention the markedly superior taste and quality of fresh organic food. In the spring of 2013, owner and chef Chad Burns stopped by Newton Community Farm and introduced himself to Greg Maslowe. “I asked if he’d be interested in selling,” Chad says. “because they were close to the restaurant and in keeping with the [restaurant’s] theme of quality local products.”


The relationship has been beneficial for both parties, and for the community at large. “It creates another channel through which people can have access to our produce,” says Greg, “but more importantly, it supports a restaurant that is committed to using local, seasonal produce and paying farmers fair rates.”


Originally from Michigan, Chad Burns started cooking in 1987 and worked his way up from washing dishes to receiving nods from Gourmet Magazine and Bon Appétit for his culinary skills. He worked in various Boston restaurants, such as Radius, Aquitaine Bis, and Beacon Hill Bistro before opening Farmstead Table in 2012 with his wife, Sharon, who is a pastry chef.


During peak season, Farmstead Table buys up to 300 pounds of produce a month from NCF, and they continue to buy in smaller quantities for most of the year—from early spring to a week or two before Christmas. The most popular crops, according to Chad, are greens and baby carrots, but they also buy herbs, tomatoes, leeks, peppers, hakurei turnips, and red Russian kale. Those greens can find their way into Local Green Salad with goat cheese, asparagus, Merlot vinaigrette, and grilled chicken or steak tips. Some of the other produce might appear in pea, parsnip, and spinach Spring Dips and many other dishes. The agreement is that Chad doesn’t ask for anything specific but buys whatever Greg has the most of that week. “We change the menu every couple of days,” says Chad. “We build the menu around what’s available.”


This is in keeping with another element of the local organic farming movement: the idea that local restaurants should support local farmers not by requesting a specific novelty crop but by finding a use for whatever crops are available, thereby supporting the entire farming system. As chef Dan Barber says in The Third Plate, “I realized that to support a farmer…I needed to change my cooking. I needed to cook with the idea of the whole farm in mind.” Or as Chad Burns says, “It is my opinion that all restaurants, big or small, whether corporate or mom-and-pop stores, should be using local and sustainable products.” We agree, Chad. Thanks for being a part of the movement.


Farmstead Table, 71 Union St., across from the Newton Centre T stop.


Elise Simons


Environmental Science Program

“Envi Sci” is a unique month-long outdoor program for teenagers that gives students the chance to have fun enjoying the wilderness while learning about the science of the environment. Highlights include hikes to Blue Hills and Mount Monadnock, bicycle trips, a 12-mile canoe trip on the Charles River, an expedition through the salt marshes of the North Shore, and an exhilarating three-day backpacking trip up Mount Washington. Students learn about the environment through science workshops in areas such as geology, botany, ecology, water cycle, pollution issues, and conservation.


Register or get more information at



David S. Backer

Executive Director

Environmental Science Program of Newton

P.O. Box 600292

Newton, MA 02460



Green Sleeved

I tried to escape,

but my wife collard me,

with greens, that is.

She chard me and re-kaled me;

she stringbeaned me along,

then carroted me.


In a nutshell,

you could say I have been farmed out.


Keith Tornheim 2014



Roasted Beet and Pear Salad

(Boston Globe)



1/4 cup orange juice

5 Tbs. sherry vinegar

1 Tb. honey

1/4 cup olive oil

Salt and pepper

Whisk ingredients together.



2 red beets

2 golden beets 

     Trim and quarter the beets. Put each beet in the middle of a square of aluminum foil, and seal the edges to form a pouch. Roast in a 400-degree oven for 1 hour. Cool the beets, peel them, and then slice them.


4 Bosc pears

     Core the pears and cut in half. Slice 1/4 inch thick. Put the slices in an oiled pan, and brush them with oil. Roast in 400-degree oven for 20–30 minutes until soft.


1 cup pecans

     Toast in a 350-degree oven, in a dry pan, for 8 minutes (until fragrant).


4 oz. blue cheese, sliced thin  


3 bunches of watercress
     Cut off the thick stems. Toss the watercress with half the dressing. Put beets and pears on the watercress, and toss gently. Top with pecans and blue cheese and remaining dressing.


Susan Tornheim


Farm Stand

Our farm stand is currently open Saturdays from 9:00 to 1:00, with longer summer hours coming soon. Please check our Web site for up-to-date information.


Farmer's Market

The Saturday market is scheduled to open on June 20. It’s located on Elm Street in West Newton and runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.


Volunteer Hours on the Farm

Volunteer hours: Wednesdays and Thursdays, 8–10 a.m. and 10:30–12:30 p.m.

Saturdays, 10:30–12:30


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).
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Newton Community Farm
303 Nahanton Street
Newton, Massachusetts 02459