Newton Community Farm
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October 2014

This is the last farm newsletter of the season. As I type these words, the gray and rainy day outside confirms that fall has come, even if I could ignore the trees that are turning color and the increasing numbers of leaves on the ground. May we all have a good winter full of warm gatherings of friends and family, happy holiday celebrations, and lots of healthy and delicious food.

Susan Tornheim 

Newsletter Editor

From the Farmer

Each month at our board meeting I’m asked to give a five-minute presentation on a farm-related topic. At last month’s meeting I delivered a diatribe called “Why I Hate Growing Tomatoes.” I thought that in this month’s newsletter I’d explain that sentiment, as well as discuss late blight, deep organics, and why I run NCF the way I do.


I’m not sure I’ve ever gotten so many comments on a newsletter article as I have in the wake of my “why I hate growing tomatoes” rant. At the farmers’ market, at the farm stand, from CSA sharers, everyone seemed to have loved what I wrote. Makes writing something for this month’s newsletter, well, a bit intimidating. How do I follow up such a success? And then I realized: I should just write about other vegetables that I’ve known (and grown) and hated!


Trouble is, I don’t really hate any vegetables, even tomatoes. Many are challenging to grow or tedious to harvest or just don’t do well here at NCF, but I don’t hate them. They just suck sometimes. Especially in September when I’m tired, sore, and really looking forward to a good hard frost.


One of the things I frequently hear from people—and this is not to be self-aggrandizing, just conversational—is how great our vegetables taste. “Your (fill in a vegetable here) are so (fill in a superlative here). So much better than what you get at the grocery store, don’t you think?” Well, yes. And no. Yes, I suppose they are often better than what you get at the grocery store. But I’m also unsure how to answer because, well, they just taste normal to me, the way vegetables are supposed to taste. Guess that’s easy to say when you have a couple 20-odd tons of fresh produce just out your back door. But I still don’t quite know what to say, so I often just smile knowingly.



If 2013 was the year of the cucumber at NCF (remember that?), 2014 was the year of the carrot. Never have I seen so many carrots. Nor, for that matter, have I ever grown so many really great, sweet carrots. It’s one of the mysteries of farming to me, why some years some crops exceed anything you’ve ever experienced. I often described this phenomenon as the “farming Gods smiling on carrots.” Some inexplicable combination of soil conditions, weather conditions, and who knows what else came together to make this one of our best seasons ever for carrots. They were so prolific, in fact, that we had to donate 1,000 pounds of carrots to Boston-area food banks because we couldn’t keep up with them. (Thanks to Boston Area Gleaners for helping us out with that!)


Another of our great crops this summer was zucchini blossoms. Chad Burns, the chef/owner of Farmstead Table in Newton Centre, came by the farm one day early this summer and asked if we’d sell him blossoms. I said sure, and we started delivering blossoms once or twice a week to the restaurant. At 25 cents a blossom it seemed a great deal for us. As it turned out, for him, too. After a delivery or two he told me that another area farm was selling blossoms to him for $1.25 apiece and suggested that I might want to raise my price. Wow, I never had a chef tell me that I should be charging him (or her) more.


I didn’t end up raising the price. I couldn’t bring myself to gouge him just because another farm was charging that much. We use $100/hr as a standard when we harvest. That is, we calculate the rate at which we harvest a crop and aim to be harvesting $100 worth of produce an hour. For some crops, like lettuce, that’s easy. For other crops it’s more of a goal than a reality. With zucchini blossoms we were able to harvest 100 blossoms in about 15 minutes. So our price of 25 cents apiece was right on target to meet our goal. Who knows, maybe next year we’ll raise the price, though quintupling it seems a bit of a reach.


I had a chance to actually try some of those zucchini blossoms on a rare date night with my wife in August. We left the kids at home to fend for themselves and snuck over to the bar at Farmstead Table for a quiet, romantic dinner. Just the two of us. After 20 years together, 14 with kids. It was great to get away. The blossoms weren’t cooked the usual way: stuffed with cheese and deep fried. Instead, they were simply marinated in olive oil and lemon juice with salt and pepper. They were, in a word, delicious. Made picking all those blossoms even more worth it having them served to us so delectably.


This year, 2014, has been a great one for the farm. The new farmers’ market on Elm Street has proved to be an excellent venue. We hosted a number of groups including the Urban Farming Institute, the Massachusetts chapter of the Northeast Organic Farming Association, and the Eastern Massachusetts chapter of the Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training. We helped get another community farm started in Littleton, Massachusetts. And our barn construction is nearing completion. All in all I’d say that as NCF approaches its 10-year anniversary (only a couple of years away now) we’re really starting to come into our own, not just as a farm, but as a part of the broader community interested in promoting local, healthy, and sustainable food production. Thanks to all of you for the part you play in this by supporting the farm and keeping us going.


Greg Maslowe 



2015 Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Preview

If you enjoy eating a variety of delicious, fresh, locally grown produce, then consider signing up for Newton Community Farm’s 2015 summer CSA program. At the beginning of each growing season, CSA participants purchase a “share” of the expected produce, which helps the farm cover a substantial portion of the costs of our agricultural operations. In return, NCF provides participants with a supply of sustainably grown, fresh vegetables and herbs each week throughout the farm season (June–October). We have the equivalent of 80 weekly shares available. Some of our participants enroll for alternate-week shares, which are picked up every other week. Other participants enroll for a weekly share for their family, or else they split the full share with another friend or family (or two!).




The three-phase enrollment process will start in mid-January and will run through late February. The first phase will be open to 2014 sharers and people with their names on the waiting list from last year. For phase 2, remaining shares will be distributed to Newton residents by lottery. If there are any shares available after phase 2, we will open up enrollment to the general public and sell shares on a first come, first served basis until all shares are sold.


For more information, check our Web site in mid-December for program details, prices, and enrollment dates and procedures.


Dede Vittori



If you are reading this, you probably have an interest in sustainable, healthy food. But did you know that October 24 is national Food Day, a day when people in all 50 states celebrate sustainable, affordable, and healthy food and try to fix some of the problems with our current food system? This year we are joining the celebrations with a few special events of our own.


We will offer a teddy bear’s picnic for preschool-age children and a caregiver; orchard tours with Sam Fogel; and garlic planting with Greg and Dan. Elsewhere in the city the Centre Street Food Pantry is providing its clients with the opportunity to taste test some local produce; some of the local schools and preschools are planning mornings in the garden, special art projects, and school surveys. Everyone and anyone can participate. Whether it be having a potluck dinner with neighbors using local ingredients, screening a food-related movie for friends, or visiting a local farmers’ market, there are endless ways you can take part. For more ideas on how to get involved, visit



All this talk of food reminds me that registration is now open for all of our fall programming. This includes adult classes on sauerkraut and kimchi, apple-cider brewing, and making cheese, to name a few. For families, we still have spaces in our Farm Sprout program, and it is also time to mark your calendars for our very special Halloween on the Farm event, October 31, 3:30–5:00 p.m.


For more information and to register please visit our Web site at Please remember that preregistration is required for all of our programs.



Alison (Wilson) Scorer

Education Coordinator


Fall Festival

This year’s Fall Festival was another great success due in part to the amazing cadre of volunteers who placed and picked up lawn signs, contributed to the bake sale, painted faces, gave farm tours, took photographs, decorated pumpkins, dug for potatoes, collected the trash, and so much more! Thank you for your essential contributions to this wonderful community-building event.



Peter Barrer presided over the ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Fall Festival to celebrate the barn renovation.





Stephanie & Isabella Wong decorate pumpkins at the Fall Festival.


I’m disappointed to share that we did not have any entries for either the pie judging contest or the prized vegetable contest. We will try again next year. If you have ideas to share, please e-mail Mara at


Mara Gorden


Summer Interns

Every summer high school students work at NCF in our intern program. This year the interns were from numerous high schools in the area, and most joined the program to learn about growing food or to gain some meaningful work experience. A few of the interns had previously attended farm camps or farm school, but most had no experience growing food. The group worked on common tasks such as planting, weeding, and harvesting and learned about the work along the way under the supervision of NCF’s professional farmers. One intern specifically noted that the farmers trusted the interns to do the work and also conveyed to them how important their work was to making sure the produce was available and ready for sale to the community.



(L to R): Interns Megan, Ailey, Andy, Anders, and Assistant Grower Dan


So what did the interns enjoy about their experiences? Their answers vary widely. Many felt pride in knowing they helped grow healthy food for distribution to their community through the CSA program, donations, farm stand, farmers’ market, and local restaurants. One intern said he enjoyed a family dinner at The Farmstead Table in Newton Centre and felt proud because the restaurant periodically serves NCF’s vegetables when they are available. Others enjoyed learning about how vegetables grow; trying vegetables they had never heard of before, like the variety of eggplants that grow at NCF; and a five-pound zucchini that one intern's family enjoyed at dinner that night. Other interns enjoyed learning farming skills such as planting seeds and seedlings, harvesting different kinds of produce, and tying up garlic to dry. Several interns said the experience was fun to do with a friend, but it was also a nice way to get to know other teenagers as well.


Several of the interns said they are planning to return next summer. There will be opportunities for others to join the group when NCF launches the enrollment process in early February. For more information about the program in general or to read about the experiences of a former intern who is now studying agricultural business in college, please go to the Internship page on NCF’s Web site.


Newton Community Farm extends a big thank you to the 20 high school students who worked as interns on the farm at various times during this past summer. Their assistance in the field work was invaluable. Both Greg (farm manager) and Dan (assistant grower) commented on how much they enjoyed working with the interns and appreciated their hard work, enthusiasm, reliability, and willingness to learn.


Dede Vittori


Orchard Report

The apple harvest has been going well so far. Apples have been harvested from five trees to date accounting for about 50 pounds. We expect to harvest another 200 pounds by the end of the season. Most of the apples are free of disease (less than 10 percent damage), which we attribute to the use of apple maggot traps, oil sprays, and very limited use of insecticides (copper, sulfur, and pyrethrum). Apples will be available for sale at the farm stand (see table below for ripening times).



Our raised-bed apple orchard contains 25 bearing-age “dwarf” trees, as well as 16 trees that will begin bearing next spring. The orchard was built in 2008 by constructing a raised bed and planting bare-rooted dwarf trees obtained from Adams Country, Stark Brothers, and Cummins nurseries. Twelve disease-resistant varieties were planted. (Most varieties are not locally available, so we need taste-testing opinions.)


Apple Varieties Grown at Newton Community Farm


# trees

Apple color

Maturity date

# apples





Sept. 10


7 lbs




Sept. 10


4.5 lbs




Sept. 10






Sept. 17






Sept. 25



Empire (crown)



Sept. 28



Crimson Topaz



Oct. 5



Florina Querina



Oct. 12






Oct. 24






Nov. 10








257 lbs

Roxbury Russet



Oct. 1



Grimes Golden



Sept. 26





Sam Fogel


Every Little Bit Counts

It is Wednesday morning, and the basement of the Waban Library Center is bustling. Crates of food are piling up by the door. The shelves are filling with canned goods, cereals, and macaroni and cheese. Frozen chickens are being stuffed into refrigerators. There are loaves from Panera Bread, fruit from Russo’s, toiletries from Star Market, and vegetables from the Greater Boston Food Bank.


By the end of the day, the Newton Food Pantry will have distributed more than 4,000 pounds of food to clients in the Newton area. When the Newton Food Pantry started in 1983, they were providing a three-day food supply to 50 families. Today, due to an increase in client base and simultaneous decrease in volunteers and donations in the wake of the recession, the food bank struggles to provide a six-day supply of food to 650 people each month, including over 50 home deliveries. For copresident Tracie Longman, one of the largest concerns has been providing a variety of healthy options for her clients. When most of the food available is processed food high in sugar and sodium, it can be difficult to find a reliable source of fresh vegetables. “[The Newton Community Farm] began bringing us fresh produce soon after the farm started [in 2005],” Longman remembers. “They were our sole source of fresh food until we joined the Greater Boston Food Bank two years ago.”


Every Wednesday when Claire Caine and her husband, Dan, drop by the Newton Community Farm to pick up their CSA share, they pile three to six bins of fresh produce into their car and deliver them to the Newton Food Pantry. The Caine family has been on volunteer vegetable delivery duty for four years; Greg Maslowe started the deliveries in the early days of Newton Community Farm. In all, volunteers at the farm have been transporting produce to the food bank for close to a decade.



Dan Caine loads veggies into the trunk of his car for delivery to a Newton food pantry.


Today, things are beginning to look up for the Newton Food Pantry. Since joining the Greater Boston Food Bank there has been a more steady supply of food (some donated, some purchased), including vegetables—at the very least, there are always onions, carrots, and potatoes available. The copresidents have been working to increase donations and volunteers by developing their Web site and increasing publicity, and they are hopeful about the results. Donations have increased, as have the number of volunteers. Fresh vegetables now come from more than just one location and are available year-round (though in limited variety). Still, a special place is reserved on the shelves for the unique, locally grown produce that has been a reliable summer staple for years. Today, Tracie Longman smiles to see the bins on the shelf. “The variety from NCF is much more interesting [than normal fare], and the quality is fantastic,” says Longman, for whom the “more unusual vegetables” are what make deliveries from the local farm so exciting.


On Saturdays, Amy Silberstein and Joan Balaban are at the Newton Community Farm, filling their van with a surplus of fresh vegetables. Their goal: to connect supply with demand. They are bringing Newton’s fresh and locally grown summer surplus to shelters, food pantries, and anywhere else in Newton where there is a lack of access to fresh and healthy produce, ensuring that nothing goes to waste. Balaban and Silberstein started an organization called Food to Your Table (FTYT). Their mission is to bridge the gap “from those who grow it to those who need it,” says Silberstein.



Joan Balaban and her husband, Jonathan Landman, transport produce to a pantry.


For the last three summers, FTYT has been delivering fresh produce to over 100 people a week. “There’s a lot of need in Newton,” says Balaban—and, it turns out, a lot of produce. “We were at the Newton Farmers’ Market,” Balaban remembers of the company’s start, “and we thought, what do farmers do with the extra produce they didn’t sell that day?” It turned out that a great deal of fresh, organic, and locally grown produce was going to waste in Newton, while elsewhere Newton residents were living without access to healthy, fresh vegetables. Three years later, FTYT is at the Farmers’ Market every Tuesday when the last booths close. Whatever the farmers can’t sell, they can now give.


FTYT delivers food from the Newton Farmers’ Market, Newton Community Farm, and other local gardens to a variety of locations throughout the Newton community, depending on the schedules and storage capacity of various organizations. This summer, much of the Saturday supply from the Newton Community Farm is going to Second Step, a women’s shelter in two Newton locations serving up to ten families each.


In past years, FTYT has also delivered Newton Community Farm produce to the Centre Street Food Pantry at the Trinity Episcopal Church. Centre Street serves 30 to 45 families a week, on Tuesday evenings and every first Saturday of the month. Of the 6,000 pounds of food distributed each month, 600 pounds are fresh produce, 100 pounds of which are delivered by FTYT during the summer season. This year the vegetables FTYT delivers to Centre St. come from the Newton Farmers’ Market.


Eventually the weather turns cold, and the season of locally grown produce ends. While the food banks begin preparing for winter donations, and the supply of fresh local produce decreases with the temperature, one place holds out just a little longer than the others. “[Newton Community Farm] goes the longest,” Balaban notes, promising: “[and] we go as long as [Greg] goes.”


Newton Food Pantry

Copresidents: Tracie Longman and Ron Perrault

1608 Beacon St., Waban

Waban Library Center Basement

Open Wednesdays, 1:30–5 p.m.

      and 3rd Saturdays, 11 a.m.–noon



Centre Street Food Pantry

Manager: Natalie Surmeli

Trinity Episcopal Church

11 Homer St., Newton Centre

Furber Lane entrance

Open Tuesdays, 4:00–7:00 p.m.

      and 1st Saturdays, 11:00 a.m.–2:00 p.m.



Food to Your Table

Co-owners: Amy Silberstein and Joan Balaban


Elise Simons


Elise Simons is an aspiring writer living in Newton. She has recently returned from the Peace Corps and is pursuing a career in environmental conservation.




Since this is the last newsletter of the season, I’m going to recommend that you take a look (or another look) at the wiki, the farm’s list of recipes, Shared Harvest.


Below is the recipe for a tasty and warming fall soup that was in the farm newsletter last year in the fall. It’s not in the wiki, so here it is once more.


Curried Squash Soup

(from Jane Brody’s Good Food Gourmet)

2 lbs. winter squash

1 Tb. butter

1½ cups chopped onion

½ cup chopped celery

1 large sweet apple (preferably McIntosh), peeled, cored, and chopped

Salt to taste (opt.)

Black pepper to taste

1 Tb. curry powder, or to taste

4 cups chicken broth (or vegetable)

1 bay leaf

1 cup buttermilk

2 tsp. lemon juice


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Cut the squash in half, scoop out the seeds, and bake the squash for 30 minutes or till tender. (You can separate the seeds from the pulp and roast the seeds with a little salt in the oven, stirring at intervals till they are crisp.)


2. While the squash is baking, melt the butter in a medium-size saucepan and add the onion, celery, apple, salt, and pepper. Cover the pan and cook the mixture for 5 minutes over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally.


3. Add the curry powder and stir for 1 minute. Then add the broth and bay leaf, raise the heat, and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover the pan, and simmer for 30 minutes. Discard the bay leaf.


4. When the squash is cool enough to handle, scoop out the flesh, and cut it into chunks.


5. Puree the broth mixture and the squash together in a blender or a food processor. Return the soup to the saucepan and add the buttermilk and lemon juice. Adjust the seasonings, and heat the soup gently till hot. Do not let it boil.


Susan Tornheim


Farmers' Market

Location: Elm Street, West Newton

Time: Saturdays, 10–2, running through the end of October


Farm Stand

Farm-stand hours: Tuesday through Friday, 1:30–dusk; Saturday, 9:30–1. Please check our Web site, and Facebook page for updates. The farm stand will be open until Thanksgiving.


Volunteer Hours

Wednesdays and Thursdays, 8 a.m.–10 a.m., and again from 10:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m.; Saturdays, 10 a.m.–noon. Volunteer hours end Thursday, October 30, for the season.


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