Newton Community Farm
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April 2015


As I work on this first newsletter of the season, my calendar and refrigerator are covered with lists and reminders about Passover and Easter, two ancient holidays that celebrate spring. A glimpse of brave crocus spikes gave testimony of underground activity, and our steps up to our terraced back yard are gradually emerging from their mountains of snow―hints that spring will eventually come.

Susan Tornheim 

Newsletter Editor

From the Farmer

January and February’s crazy snowfalls were great for the winter-lover in me. I skied Mt. Washington in powder so deep that when I fell it was tough to get out. It felt like I was back in Colorado where I grew up. My family and I enjoyed skiing out our back door, through the woods, and around the golf course that's by the farm. We snowshoed, sledded, and dug snow caves. It was great. But I also spent hours on a ladder clearing snow and ice off the roof of the farmhouse when we started to notice water damage upstairs. Then more hours clearing snow off the chicken coop as it threated to collapse under the immense load. And more hours working with Farmer Dan to clear off the greenhouses so we could start seedlings (OK, Dan really did most of the work on that one, but it was exhausting to watch him).


I often find myself rolling my eyes at people who live in New England and complain about cold and snow. It is, after all, New England. But by March I was definitely finding myself hoping not to get any more snow. Our plow broke following one of our many foot-plus dumps in February. Most of our fruit trees and shrubs show some kind of damage (broken branches; stripped bark from rodents looking for a meal). And we’re already behind on planting as the field is not only still frozen, but covered in snow. But we’re carrying on. The greenhouse is filling up with seedlings. We’re taking advantage of extra time to get tools organized in the barn. And I’m still enjoying some spring skiing with my kids.


I read in an editorial in The Newton Tab recently that the word “urban,” when applied to parts of Newton, can seem like a four-letter word rather than five. The comment struck me because just days after reading it I gave a plenary talk at the third annual Urban Farming Conference in Worcester. NCF is often classified as an “urban” farm due to the size of our community and its proximity to Boston. Guess I better advise people to use that term carefully.


The gist of my talk was “What’s the point of urban agriculture?” The topic was inspired by a conversation with Farmer Dan in which he told me about a conference he attended. One of the speakers questioned the very idea of urban farms. Just the cost to remediate the soil (or more likely bring in new soil) for a half-acre plot is almost ridiculously expensive relative to what you’ll be able to grow on that plot. So why are we doing it, this speaker asked?


My response, which I gave at the urban ag conference, was that there may very well be other reasons to have urban farms besides just making money. They can provide fresh produce in areas that are often food deserts. They can be used for job and/or leadership training for youth, or vets, or any other group, for that matter. They can simply change the physical landscape in positive ways. And they can be sources of pride for communities. All of these are worthwhile contributions that have little to do with how much money the farm makes selling produce.


But I also didn’t want people to think that I was saying that making money was unimportant. I’m actually strongly in favor of all farms, regardless of their organizational structure and mission, trying to be as profitable (or close to it) as possible. I think there’s something very important about educational farms, in particular, trying to be profitable so that what they’re teaching and demonstrating is more closely related to the reality private farms and farmers face. It’s just that being profitable isn’t the sole criterion on which to judge the success of an urban farm, especially if it’s a community farm. We’re here for other reasons as well. Like teaching, supporting food pantries, changing the landscape, and being a source of pride for our communities. How well we do these things is an important component of whether our farm is “successful” or not. Not to blow our own horn, but I think that’s why I was asked to speak at the Urban Farming Conference: because our farm, NCF, is a great example of all these “intangible” things, as well as the drive to be profitable. We have something here in Newton to be proud of. I hope you’ll come out for a visit this year and take advantage of all that NCF has to offer: food, education, beauty, and a bit of serenity in urban Newton. In the meantime, here’s to melting snow!


Greg Maslowe 



May Seedling Sale

Despite the lingering snow and cold temperatures, the farm is already hopping with excitement and preparations for the season. We are gearing up for our Annual Seedling Sale taking place this year on May 16 and 17, noon–3:00 p.m. Farmer Greg and Farmer Dan have been hard at work getting the seedlings started and warmed in the greenhouse.


We are once again offering a special preorder opportunity for our current Friends of the Farm. Not a Friend yet? Click on Friend to join. Preorders are being taken now through May 9. This preorder includes summer crops and tomatoes. To download a preorder form, click on preorder. Preorders will be available for pickup at a designated table during the sale. Avoid the crowd and lines and place your order today!


Volunteering at the Seedling Sale is a great way to meet other like-minded community members. Sign up today! Volunteering is also an easy way to complete CSA Sharer work hours.


Lastly, we need a handful of volunteers to place lawn signs for the sale. The signs will be ready to be picked up at the end of April and will need to be in the ground the first week of May and then removed and returned the afternoon of May 17 or the morning of May 18. Please e-mail if you are able to assist.


Mara Gorden


2015 Flower Share Progrm


Newton Community Farm is again offering a 15-week flower-share program for $150. Enjoy fresh, seasonal flowers grown at the Natick Community Organic Farm and delivered to NCF on Wednesdays. Sharers pick up flowers at the barn from 2:00 to 7:00 p.m. on Wednesdays or Thursdays. Click flowers for more information about the program. Click 2015 Flower Share to download the form and enroll. Forms and payment should be sent directly to Natick Community Organic Farm and are due by June 3.


Dede Vittori



Spring in New England is something quite different from what I grew up with. In England Mother’s Day is in March and was marked in our local church by the giving of daffodils. By April the sight of snowdrops, crocuses, daffodils, and tulips was a regular thing. The first March I spent here I was lost; everything was still so gray, wintery, and lacking in color. I complained to my family, and the next day a bouquet of spring flowers was delivered. After this winter I am definitely left reminiscing about English springs. So it goes without saying that I am excited at the prospect of things brightening up, seeing the field start to come back to life, and like so many others, I now wait anxiously to see the first shoots of asparagus and garlic.


The mention of asparagus reminds me. On Saturday, May 2, we are offering you the opportunity to spend an afternoon with local chef and restaurant owner Chad Burns of Farmstead Table. In this class in the newly renovated barn Chad will guide you through the preparation of three delicious dishes that all feature that spring favorite, asparagus.


Here are some of our upcoming classes.


Spring Adult Programs

* An Afternoon with Chad Burns (5/2, 4:00–6:00 p.m.)

* Kid Friendly Cooking (5/8, 11:30–12:30 p.m.)

* Composting for Beginners (5/23, 1:00–2:00 p.m.)

* Celebrating 300 Years of Farming in Newton (5/26, 1:30–3:00 p.m.)

* Introduction to Bees and Beekeeping (5/28, 6:30–8:30 p.m.)


Spring Family and Youth Programs

Farm Sprouts springs into action on April 7 with sessions offered Tuesday mornings, 10:00–11:00 a.m., and Wednesday afternoons, 1:15–2:15 p.m. We are also offering April vacation Farm Sprouts on the Tuesday and Wednesday of that week.


For elementary school children the second Tuesday of the month is Kids’ Farm Cooking (4/14, 5/12, and 6/9), while 5/7 is Early Release Paper Making.


And, of course, it is never too early to start thinking ahead to the summer.


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


Please remember that preregistration is required for all of our programs. For more information and registration information please visit I look forward to seeing you over the coming months.


Alison Scorer

Farm Educator/ Coordinator


New Farm President
A Note from Peter Barrer

On behalf of the Board of Directors of the Newton Community Farm I’m pleased to announce the election of Stephanie Cogen as our new president. Stephanie has deep roots in the farm and greater Newton community, and I believe she is the perfect choice to lead the organization into the future. A longtime CSA participant, she is an enthusiastic volunteer, a vocal advocate for urban agriculture, and a pleasure to be around. Stephanie is a part-time attorney with The Youngdahl Law Firm and codirector of the Newton Family Singers.


The past six years as president have been an amazing experience for me, and I’m proud to leave this role with the farm in excellent shape financially, in Board leadership, and in community support. I will remain on the Board in an advisory capacity to help smooth Stephanie’s transition as the new president.


Peter Barrer


2015 Summer 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 experienced farmers? Then consider interning at Newton Community Farm. We are now accepting applications from high school students for our popular summer intern program. No experience is necessary, just a desire to learn and work hard!


This unpaid internship starts with a two-week trial period (consecutive weeks) from 8:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. (with a short break at 10:00 a.m.) from Tuesday through Thursday. After the trial period and with the agreement of the farm manager, interns can increase their number of hours, days (including Fridays and Saturdays), and/or weeks at the farm.


For more information about the program and to download application forms, click on intern. You can also see a flyer about the program.



The Newton Community Farm Board is establishing a new committee to address sustainability on the farm. The committee will review current practices and research and propose more sustainable systems for the farm in the areas of farm operations (agricultural practices, water management, and equipment); educational and outreach events (for example, minimizing trash by composting organic wastes and recycling where appropriate); buildings (seeking to make all structures as energy-efficient as possible and ensuring that they are maintained using environmentally friendly products); and personnel (seeking to pay living wages and provide other benefits where possible). If you have a background or interest in any of these areas, and you are interested in serving on this working committee, please contact Stephanie Cogen at


Stephanie Cogen


Thanks to Sam Fogel and Barney Keezell

The NCF Board gives heartfelt thanks to our outgoing Board members Sam Fogel and Barney Keezell. Both have been valuable and active members on the Board for years, informed by their personal expertise in home gardening. Sam has been the driving force behind the creation of our apple orchard and has given generously of his time and energy wherever it was needed, from organizing the Fall Festival to working with Newton city officials. Barney has been building our supportive community, recruiting and nurturing many of our contributing and active volunteers. We are sorry to see them leave the Board, but we do not have to say goodbye. Both Sam and Barney will remain active at NCF in their respective areas of interest.


Stephanie Cogen


Intergenerational Program

Seeks Adult Volunteers

Do you enjoy spending time with enthusiastic, curious, bright-eyed children? Bridges: Our Smarts is an intergenerational program that fosters friendships and understanding between older adults and children in our middle schools.


Spend 60 minutes a week for six weeks sharing your experiences and getting to know these children as you work together under the guidance of Farm Educator Alison Scorer of Newton Community Farm. Together you will complete simple, fun projects pertaining to nature that promote shared perspectives and interesting discussions.


Classes will begin the week of May 5 at the John Barry Boys and Girls Club. If you are interested in participating as a volunteer or would like more information, please come to our information session on April 16 at 10:00 a.m. at the Newton Senior Center. Or e-mail Alison Scorer at


Alison Scorer


Performing Arts for Teens at the New Art Center

WHAT: Theater created by TEENS in honor of Earth Day

THEME: The environment. Inspired by Earth Day, April 22, 2015, we will find out what your passions are when it comes to taking care of the earth.

WHERE: The New Art Center, Newtonville

WHEN: April vacation, 4/21–4/24, 9:00–4:00 p.m.

WHO: Teens

WHY: An opportunity for teens to express their beliefs and desires about the environment while learning theater arts


Are you interested in theater? Do you care about the environment? If you can answer YES to both of those questions, we want you! During four days of April vacation, we will write and rehearse a play about taking care of the environment, and we will perform it at the end of the week for families and friends.


Bring your skills, interests, and passions: Do you like to write? to act? to design costumes? create stage sets and props from recycled materials? Would you like to be the director of a play? stage manager? choreographer? What do you believe about the environment that you would like to share with people through the art of theater? We will write a play based on your ideas about taking care of the environment. We will make costumes and sets using recycled materials. Bring your wild and crazy ideas! All aspects of theater-making will be available for you to explore.


Facilitated by Karen Bray, MSPT, MFA

Theater Artist

New Art Center Faculty

Physical Therapist

Questions? 617-953-3937



The farm’s Web site has a really interesting list of recipes called Shared Harvest, or “the wiki,” that have been offered by the farm community. Click on the wiki to take a look (or another look) at the list.


Here are two recipes that use spring greens. See the second recipe, a healthy whole-wheat pastry crust!

The recipes are from


Spinach and Onion Tart

by Martha Rose Shulman


1 yeasted olive-oil pastry (see recipe below) (1/2 recipe)

1½ lbs. stemmed and washed spinach

1 Tb. olive oil

1 medium onion, finely chopped

Salt and pepper, to taste

1 tsp. thyme

4 eggs

¾ cup low-fat milk

½ cup Gruyère cheese, grated

¼ cup Parmesan cheese, grated


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Oil a 10-in. tart pan and line it with the pastry. Keep it in the refrigerator while preparing the filling. Steam the spinach for 2–3 minutes till wilted, squeeze out extra water, and chop finely. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet and sauté the onion, stirring often, till soft and starting to color, about 8 minutes. Add spinach, thyme, salt, and pepper. Stir well and remove from heat.


Whisk eggs in a large bowl. Add a little salt and whisk in the milk. Stir in the spinach mixture and the cheeses. Scrape into the pastry-lined tart pan and bake for 40–45 minutes until tart is set and the top is beginning to color. Let cool for 15 minutes before cutting. You can make this a day ahead, and the crust can be made weeks ahead and frozen.


Whole Wheat Yeasted Olive Oil Pastry

by Martha Rose Shulman


2 tsp. active dry yeast

¼ tsp. sugar

1 large egg, at room temperature, beaten

¼ cup olive oil

1 cup whole-wheat flour

1 cup unbleached flour, more as needed

¾ tsp. salt


Dissolve the yeast in ½ cup lukewarm water, add the sugar, and let it sit in a draft-free place about 5 minutes until the mixture is creamy. Beat in the egg and the olive oil. Combine the flours and salt, and stir into the yeast mixture. Work the dough till it comes together into a coherent mass, adding flour as needed. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead gently for a few minutes, adding flour as needed, just until the dough is smooth, but don’t overwork it. Shape into a ball. Put it in a lightly oiled bowl, cover the dough with plastic wrap, and let it rise in a draft-free spot until doubled in size, about one hour.


Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, gently knead a few times, and cut into 2 equal pieces. Shape each piece into a ball, cover each loosely with plastic wrap, and let them rest for 5 minutes. Then roll out into thin rounds and line pans. If not using right away, freeze the dough to keep it from rising. Once rolled out, the dough will keep for a month in the freezer if it’s well wrapped. The dough can go from the freezer to the oven.


Susan Tornheim


Farm Stand

Farm-stand hours have not been set yet. Please check our Web site and Facebook page for updates.


Volunteer Hours

Volunteer hours will start in May.


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