Newton Community Farm
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July 2015

I’m scrambling to use most of the produce from one week’s CSA share before the next pickup day comes. I think that salad must be coming out of my ears! Tonight I tried a new kale dish, made a green salad with the rest of the arugula and some leaf lettuce, and stir-fried a main dish of green garlic, the spinach and snap peas from last week, bok choi that I had bought, and a little chicken sausage. But there are other options, such as preserving some produce for the fall. I hope you are enjoying and keeping up with all the great veggies that are coming from the farm.

Susan Tornheim 

Newsletter Editor

From the Farmer

A few weeks ago we had a group of young people from Union Church in Waban come to visit the farm and talk about sustainable agriculture and what it means. What is sustainability? What is organic? Why do we farm the way we do here at NCF, and why is it important?


In conversations like this I often turn the question “What is organic?” back to the person or group I’m talking to. What do you think organic means? Almost invariably the response is some version of “You don’t spray anything.” This usually leads us into a long discussion of what Eliot Coleman of Four Season Farm in Maine calls “shallow” organic and “deep” organic and how these relate to the National Organic Program (NOP) rules. Organic, as it turns out, does not mean “no spraying.” The NOP maintains a list of pesticides that are allowed for organic use. There are many other aspects of the organic rules, but I like to talk about this one, spraying pesticides, because 1) most people think that organic means no spraying; and 2) because it lends itself to discussing shallow versus deep organic practices.


A group of fourth and fifth graders from Solomon Schechter Day School who come to the farm for an after-school program were excited to find a snake sunning itself on the stone herb spiral in our Learning Garden. Nothing big, just a garter snake. But exciting for them nonetheless. The same day, while spreading leaf mulch in our tomato beds, Dan and some volunteers kept coming across toads as they went back and forth with their wheelbarrows. A few days later, while spreading leaf mulch in our pepper beds, I accidentally dug into a nest of native bees. Then, to top it all off, when we sat down to lunch at the picnic table, the table was covered by baby praying mantises that had just hatched from the egg case I’d found by the greenhouse and brought over to the table to show kids.


All of these creatures—bees, predatory insects, snakes, and amphibians—are adversely affected by pesticide use. While the pesticides approved for organic use are, generally speaking, safer and less toxic than those used in “conventional” agriculture, many of them are still broad spectrum, killing indiscriminately. And while they may break down faster and so not remain active in the environment as long, if you’re using them on a regular basis, well, that’s still a lot of poison.


This is just one of the many differences between shallow and deep organic. Do you farm like a conventional farm, using pesticides to control pests (albeit ones approved for organic use), or do you try to control things in other, often more labor-intensive (and therefore expensive) ways? I take as my guide the idea that I want to do the least amount of harm I can. And I take as an indication of how successful I am the abundance of life I find at NCF. Birds and bees, bats and mantises—there’s a lot of life living here at the farm. Encountering it every day as we go about our work is exciting, and showing it to visitors helps us demonstrate the importance of farming the way we do here at Newton Community Farm.


Greg Maslowe 




Summer is here and so are our summer classes for youngsters of all ages. All of our summer classes involve hands-on activities and provide children with an age-appropriate way to learn about the farm and the food it produces. Fun, friendship, and farm-fresh produce, what more could you want? If you have not yet signed up, there is still time, so visit our Web site for information.


Upcoming Programs for Kids and Families

Summer Cooking Party!

Ambitious, adventurous kid cooks, ages 8–18, come and join us, and our friends from Kids Cooking Green, in the kitchen for an end-of-summer Cooking Party on Wednesday, 8/26, from 4:30 to 7:30.


If you have a CSA share with us, this is the perfect opportunity to get your budding chef rustling up something delicious for dinner using all that wonderful produce. Don’t have a CSA? Don’t worry, we will provide the produce so that you can join in the fun. Kids will prepare and cook dinner for themselves and a family member to enjoy on the farm. For an additional fee, other family members are welcome. For more information please visit our Web site at


Preregistration is required for all of our programs.


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


Newton Community Farm & Kids Cooking Green are cooking up some fun events for kids in grades K-1-2

A three-week program on Tuesdays, 9/15, 9/22, and 9/29, 1:30–3:00 p.m. Come tour the farm, learn about the animals, and then cook with local farm-fresh produce! Kids will go home with recipes and knowledge of what life on a farm is about.


Upcoming Classes for Adults

Gardening Social Hour (Free)

7/7, 9/1, 10/6, 2:00–3:00 p.m.

This group meets once a month at Newton Community Farm to discuss, brainstorm, and support each other through our gardening ventures. Topics to be covered will be decided by the group. This event is free, but preregistration is required.


Season Extension and More

September 12, 9–noon. Topics to be covered in this morning workshop include how to use hoop systems and mini greenhouses, crops that you can grow in the fall and over the winter, what to do with your compost at this time of year, and the important role of seed saving.


Mark your calendars, October 24 is Food Day. This annual event is a national celebration of local, real food and an opportunity to push for improved food policies. This year the theme is “Toward a Greener Diet.” For ideas on how to get involved, visit To find out about celebrations here in Newton, contact Alison at


Alison Scorer

Farm Educator/ Coordinator


Dinner on the Farm

There are still some tickets left for the Dinner on the Farm, Tuesday, July 14, from 6:30 to 9:00. Join us for a dinner featuring the farm’s own seasonal produce, prepared by chef, NCF Board member, and cooking teacher Jon Orren, with the assistance of his students from Newton South High School. Come and enjoy the food, wine and beer, and music by the old-time string band Dixie Butterhounds. Your ticket, $65, or $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.




Food for Thought: Eating Local & the Quest

for a Sustainable Food System in New England

Climate change resiliency is a hot topic these days, and one strategy for dealing with the potential impacts is to strengthen the local food system. Massachusetts and other New England states are looking at this issue at the state and regional levels with the goal of increasing the amount of fresh, sustainably grown food produced and consumed in this area. Experts vary in their opinions of how much of our regional food supply could be grown and raised in New England, but the estimates range from a third to half of our regional demand that could be met through an extensive and diversified sustainable agriculture system. These efforts are timely as the need for increased local production is highlighted by the food shortages and increasing prices resulting from the serious drought in California, the state where almost half of this country’s nuts, fruits, and vegetables are grown. So what is happening in this area to address this issue?


At the state level, Massachusetts contracted in 2014 with the Metropolitan Area Planning Commission (MAPC) to develop a statewide food system plan. Through December 2015 the project team is working with a range of food system stakeholders to conduct a comprehensive assessment that identifies the current strengths of the Massachusetts food system and opportunities for improvement at the state level, all with the aim of complementing the work being done in other New England states. Stakeholders include producers, business owners, sustainable-agriculture advocates, and consumers. Their work includes reviewing components of the food system such as production, waste management, food access, hunger relief, and distribution, all within the context of broad themes such as economic and workforce development, public health, and climate resiliency. To date, the team has held many public forums to gather information and input. If you’d like to learn more about this important process or sign up to receive updates, go to


At the regional level, several organizations are currently working on projects to assess New England’s capacity for a sustainable food system. For example, the Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) believes New England can have a thriving, sustainable food system that provides strong environmental and economic benefits to the region. Their Farm and Food Initiative touches upon many aspects of local food production including urban agriculture, sustainable fisheries, and food-processing businesses that make artisan cheeses, maple syrup, and apple cider. CLF is paying particular attention to economic inequities in the food system. They aim to level the playing field for producers and increase food access for people living in underserved communities by reforming laws and policies that affect agriculture in New England. The University of New Hampshire (UNH) has a project called Food Solutions New England (FSNE), which aims “to transform the New England food system into a resilient driver of racial equity and food justice, health, sustainable farming and fishing, and thriving communities.”


At the city level, Newton Community Farm is providing fresh, sustainably grown, local food to the community through our farm stand, farmers’ market booth, Community Supported Agriculture program, and donations to multiple food pantries. We are also teaching the public about sustainable agriculture and fresh, locally grown food through our many education, internship, and outreach programs including coordination of Newton’s participation in the state and national Food Day initiative. Within the growing urban agriculture movement in the Boston metro area, NCF also serves an important role as an example of a highly productive small-scale farm successfully implementing season-extension strategies through the use of our greenhouse and federally funded high tunnels (hoophouses). NCF’s farm manager, Greg Maslowe, is also sought out for advice to help launch and grow other farms and is often asked to speak at professional development seminars, workshops, and conferences about his experience running a small-scale community farm. Our farm is small, but its output of produce, programs, and inspiration has a disproportionately large impact on our local area.


Dede Vittori


Massachusetts RMV Offering Specialty Ag Plates

A new specialty license plate is available in Massachusetts: the “Choose Fresh and Local” plate. The fee is $20 a year, and the proceeds will benefit three groups that support and encourage new farmers, farmers’ markets, and a vibrant food economy in Massachusetts. Once 1,500 people have signed up, the Registry of Motor Vehicles will start to print and sell the plates. For more information, please visit



I’ve been reminded that some people who visit the farm are new and may not know about the farm wiki. This is a growing collection of recipes, called Shared Harvest, that people can use and add to. You can get to it from the farm Web site,, by going to the About page where there is a link to Shared Harvest about halfway down the page.


Are you asking, “What do I do with chard?” Go to Shared Harvest and try Chard with Garlic, Pine Nuts, and Raisins. You can find recipes on the wiki to use most or all of the veggies that may be unfamiliar. Take a look!


Susan Tornheim


Farm Stand

Farm stand hours: Tuesday through Friday, 1:30–6, and Saturday, 9:30–1.

Please note: Farm stand will be closed on Saturday, July 4.


Farmer's Market

The Newton Saturday market is located on Elm Street in West Newton and runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. during the summer and fall.


Volunteer Hours on the Farm

Volunteer hours: Wednesdays and Thursdays, two sessions: 8–10 a.m. and 10:30–12:30 p.m. Saturdays, one session: 10:30–12:30.

Please note: No volunteer hours will be held on Saturday, July 4.


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