Newton Community Farm
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Bare leaves in my yard and the call of our territorial cardinal tell me that spring is approaching. New England winter will continue to bully us for a while longer, but spring will peek out more and more. Look for buds swelling and below-earth stirrings, and your heart will lift.

Susan Tornheim
Newsletter Editor

From the Farmer

The vernal equinox has come and gone, and spring, which according to the calendar at least should be here, still seems a bit coy. We’ve had a few sunny, warm days, but for the most part things remain cold. Cold and frozen.

St. Patrick’s Day is the traditional date in our area for sowing peas. Not this year. We won’t even be planting peas in the same month as St. Patrick’s Day. But there are signs that no matter how long the winter may seem, spring will eventually come. The rhubarb buds are swelling, and a few brave leaves are starting to form. The asparagus hasn’t shown any signs of life yet, but in the hoophouse the spinach and chard are growing.

We often judge the thaw by the chorus of spring peepers singing to us from the wetlands across the street from the farm. On particularly warm spring days we might go to bed with the window open listening as the peepers actually drown out the sound of passing cars. We haven’t yet even opened a window, much less heard a peeper, but they’ll come. They’ll come.

The farm’s new assistant grower, Dan Bensonoff, and I have been busy in the greenhouse starting seedlings. We’re gearing up not only for the eventual thawing of the field, but for the Seedling Sale, which is only a couple of months away. We should have a great assortment of plants for you to try at home!

March saw Snowy, our big white rabbit, give birth. Her baby should be out and about just in time for Farm Sprouts to start up this month. We’re not sure if it’s a male or female yet, but my daughter assures me it’s the cutest thing she’s seen at the farm in a long time.

Every growing season brings its own challenges. One of the great challenges of farming is figuring out how to deal with them, and maybe even to bring something good out of them. The late spring is giving us extra time to make sure equipment is in working order; keep on top of the seeding work in the greenhouse; and get all the pruning done. Admittedly, I wish I’d already been able to be out prepping beds for peas, but I suppose then I’d just be stressing about all the other things that we were already falling behind on.

Spring will come. We just have to be patient. Nature can’t be rushed. It teaches us that while making plans is important, just as important is being able to be flexible, working with what you have. For now, we’re going to take advantage of the slow start to the season and enjoy it because before we know it, we’ll be too busy, too tired, and wishing for that first hard frost to bring everything to an end.

Greg Maslowe

If Carrots Could Talk! 

Don't miss Greg's talk at the library on April 7

Come hear NCF’s farm manager, Greg Maslowe, speak at the Newton Free Library on April 7 at 7 p.m. on “If Carrots Could Talk: How Well Do You Really Know Your Food?” Greg will explain Newton Community Farm’s role in helping people understand more about their food, sustainable agriculture practices, crops that grow in this area of Massachusetts, home gardening, and the rewards and challenges of farming. Greg has a master’s degree in Science, Philosophy, and Religion from Boston University where he worked on the ethics of genetically modified food crops. This program is cosponsored by Newton Community Farm and Green Decade/Newton in conjunction with the library’s ESL/Literacy program. It will be held in the Druker Auditorium at the library, 330 Homer St.

Dede Vittori

Seedling Sale

Join us for our annual Seedling Sale. We will have over 15,000 vegetable and herb seedlings ready for transplant. Bring your own boxes for carrying. Cash or check only. A detailed list of what we will be growing and the Friend of the Farm preorder form are coming soon. We need YOUR help to make this event a success again this year. Please click here to sign up to volunteer.

Please direct questions to Mara at


Save the Date

Dinner on the Farm
Tuesday, July 15

Fall Festival
Sunday, September 28

Interested in helping to plan these events? E-mail Mara at

Mara Gordon


It may be hard to believe, but spring is here, and we are all geared up and raring to go in what promises to be another busy season. Over the winter months things have been happening. Our winter programming proved popular with a number of people enjoying cheese making and beer brewing. If you missed out, do not fear; we will be offering these popular classes again in the fall. Our 2014 gardening series is underway, and gardens have been planned, if not yet planted due to the lingering cold.

I have continued to meet with the teens at the Newton Teen Center at the YMCA, and they too are eager to get started in the new raised-bed gardens there once things warm up slightly. Plans are also in place for the Countryside garden, and a number of local preschools are already on the calendar to enjoy programming both at the farm and in their own schools.

So what do we have to offer over the coming months?

Families and Youth

Of course Farm Sprouts is back, meeting on either a Tuesday morning from 10 to 11 a.m. or a Wednesday afternoon from 1:15 to 2:15 p.m., beginning April 1 through May 28. This year our popular preschool program will run for eight weeks. In addition Farm Sprouts will be offered during April vacation week and requires a separate registration.

We are also excited to be offering Ready, Set, Grow! This three-part series, for family groups of a parent and one to two children ages 4 to 6, introduces you to gardening with your children. It is a wonderful way to spend time on the farm and begin learning the wonders of growing your own food. (Thursdays, 5/1, 5/29, and 6/26, 4–5:30 p.m.)

Adult Programs

There is still time to join the 2014 Gardening Series either for all three remaining sessions or simply as individual classes. April 12 – Garden Structures and Planting; June 21– The Mid Season Bounty and Thinking Ahead; Sept. 13 – Season Extension.

If you have limited space for gardening, you may wish to consider Plots in Pots on May 14. Choose plants and create a container garden that both beautifies your home and provides edibles for your table. Bring your own container and you’ll leave this make-and-take workshop with a container garden of edible plants ready to grow and enjoy!

We are also very excited to announce that on May 3 we will again be offering a professional development program for local preschool teachers and daycare providers titled Greening the Curriculum: Connecting Classroom Activities and the Natural World. Come and join us as we discuss ways to get the youngest members of our community outside and noticing the natural world around them.


And as we dream of warmer days don’t forget that registration is now open for all of our summer youth programs. Focusing on where our food comes from and the daily involvement in farm life, we have something for youth of all ages this summer.

Farm Sprouts – children in preschool and kindergarten
Meets weekly, choose your day. Tues., Wed., Thurs., or Fri., 10–11 a.m., 6/17–8/29

Little Diggers -- Students entering grades 1–2
Monday–Friday, 9–noon, 7/7–7/11 and 8/4–8/8
1-week sessions

Farmer in Training -- Students entering grades 3–5
Mon.–Fri., 9–12:30 p.m., 7/7–8/25
1-week sessions

SAY Farmers -- Students entering grades 6–9
Mon.–Fri., 9–12:30 p.m., week of 7/14 and week of 7/21
1-week sessions

For more information and registration details on any of the programs mentioned, please see our education information. Preregistration is required for all of our programs. We look forward to welcoming you.

Alison (Wilson) Scorer
Education Coordinator

Barn Renovation Progress

Over the winter the barn interior construction project has nearly been completed, and we can see the final shape. Financed by Newton Community Preservation Act funds, the old floor has been leveled, planed, sanded, and reinstalled. The lighting and bathrooms are complete. The old access doors on the lower level have been replaced with handsome energy-efficient doors of the same design. The walk-in cooler is in place, as well as a large sink for washing produce. When spring weather comes and the ground softens, the final steps of the city-funded project will include connecting underground water, gas, and electric utilities and completing the driveway and walkways. 

With privately raised funds we will then install the demonstration kitchen cabinets and appliances. The barn should be available for classes and events before July!

As soon as additional private funds can be raised, the farm manager’s office will be built on the loft level in the barn, a sprinkler system will be installed, and a roof will be built over the deck to create a screened meeting room.

Peter Barrer

New Board Members 

Craig Greiner has spent over a decade in the communications sector and now owns a broadcast public relations firm, Crystal Lake Communications. He has designed and managed PR strategies for many clients across the country. Craig joined the NCF board in 2014. He lives in Newton Highlands with his wife and four-year-old twins and enjoys visiting farmers’ markets wherever his travels take him.

Craig Bouchard has extensive fundraising experience with The Nature Conservancy, both in Massachusetts and in California, before moving to Newton Corner with his wife in 2009. In 2011 he left fundraising to start a new role—stay-at-home Dad. Since that time, his days and nights have been very busy caring for his toddler daughter and infant son. He is a former board member of EarthShare New England, and in 2012 he earned the Certificate in Professional Fundraising from Boston University’s Center for Professional Education. He joined the NCF board in 2013.

Doug Whitacker is an attorney who has practiced in New York and more recently in Boston. He has represented a wide range of clients, from death-row inmates to large companies. Doug joined the Board in 2014 and advises it on legal issues. He lives in Newton Highlands with his wife and three children, all of whom can confirm that his gardening skills need work.

Boston Marathon Fundraising Update:  Clara's Still Running!

Newton Community Farm is the beneficiary of local author Clara Silverstein’s fundraising run in this year’s Boston Marathon. Her training is going well, one step at a time. And the gifts are coming in, one gift at a time. She’s putting in the hard miles (her route goes up Heartbreak Hill and back down), and your donation to her effort goes to support the varied educational programs and overall mission of NCF, not to mention inspiring and driving her on as she closes in on this year’s Boston Marathon. She is so pleased to see the support she is getting for her efforts, and she is still gaining ground on her $3,000 goal. We want to meet that goal and fly right on by that finish line and beyond. Please help Clara and Newton Community Farm in this wonderful fundraising opportunity by going to Clara's run and donating today. Thank you, Clara!

Craig Bouchard

Newton, the Edible City

Walking around my neighborhood in Newton Centre I often wonder why they call this the Garden City. I see rhododendrons, azaleas, grass, some flowers, aged trees planted on the utility strip, and telephone poles that have seen better days. I think it may be time to spread the gospel of permaculture around our fair city. Permaculture has many definitions. Without getting too complicated I picked this one:  Permaculture is a holistic approach to landscape design and human culture. Another definition:  a system of cultivation planned to maintain permanent agriculture or horticulture by using renewable resources and a self-sustaining ecosystem. It is an attempt to integrate a number of disciplines, including biology, ecology, geography, agriculture, architecture, appropriate technology, gardening, and community building.

When you start planting this spring, think of growing only plants that your family can eat. Think about replacing those bushes damaged by this winter’s weather changes and snow with blueberry, gooseberry, or raspberry bushes. If you have a small patch of grass that needs to be replaced, think of planting a patch of strawberries; your children will love the results. If you have a south-facing front walk, think of an herb garden leading to your front door. You could have pots of oregano, thyme, rosemary, sage, and several varieties of basil. If you go to one of our local garden shops and the farm’s seedling sale, look at all the varieties of herbs and vegetables. I’m sure you can find a place for some of  them in your yard or containers. Below you will find some Web links for more information, and I have also listed my e-mail address. I would love to hear your ideas.

Barney Keezell

Taking Stock of the Pantry

Just as there is an ebb and flow to the growing season, there is an ebb and flow to the preserving season. When I’m up to my eyeballs in ripe tomatoes, peaches, or apples, it’s hard to see past all the work to the lovely food we’ll be able to eat through the winter. And yes, preserving is a lot of work. But it’s work I am willing to put in for the trade-off of soups, sauces, jams, and pickles I’ll enjoy later on.

Right after harvest season and peak preserving season, my family knows I’ll protect my full pantry shelves from any and all incursions. It’s a look-but-don’t-touch policy! Too many hours have gone into those glass jars for hungry teens to open them willy-nilly for a snack. I know this is just a tad irrational, but I can’t help it.

Then come February and March, when I realize I made too few of some things and too many of others, and I start pulling up jars to use in practically every meal. This morning was raspberry-lime jam on sourdough toast.

One of the hard parts about preserving is anticipating what you and your family will use during the long stretch between final harvest and new spring greens. It’s tempting to keep squirreling away jar after jar, but not if your hard labor doesn’t get eaten. So I’ve taken to doing an inventory around this time of year.

We’re down to a handful of jars of chopped tomatoes and sauce, maybe a half dozen pints of applesauce. The salsa and the caponata didn’t get a lot of play this year, and neither did the sliced peaches. (Note to self, peaches with granola and yogurt make a great breakfast!) I still have heaps of jams, even after giving many away for the holidays and bringing them to friends’ houses―not because we don’t eat jams, but because I was terribly overambitious in canning them. Now that my boys will both be in college, I’ll need to downsize my preserving plans accordingly.

I know this will be hard when I head to the farmers’ market and see a banker’s box full of peach seconds for $15. Anyone want to come over for toast and jam?

Lisa Janice Cohen

Thank You, Thank You, Thank You

Newton Community Farm is able to make an impact in our community and beyond because of our supporters. In 2013 and years prior, the generosity of people like you made it possible to pursue sustainable agricultural and environmental practices and use our farm as an educational tool within our community. We can’t say it enough:  thank you, thank you, thank you!

Craig Bouchard


This recipe is three in one; it's a tasty, easy, low-fat cheese pie. But it also becomes a great green pie when you steam spinach (or chard or any green!) and pour it in the pie pan. You can also cut up and steam asparagus or other green vegetable and include it.

Quick Low-Fat Cheese Pie

3 whole-wheat tortillas or 2 pitas, cut around edges and separated
3–4 eggs or egg substitute
½ tsp. salt
½ cup low-fat cheese
1/8 tsp. pepper
1 cup low-fat cottage cheese                  
1 Tb. cut chives or other fresh herb or 1 tsp. dried herb                             

Put 1 tortilla or 1 separated pita round in bottom of pie pan. Cut other 2 tortillas or separated pita rounds in half. Place halves with cut sides down overlapping central piece around edges of pie pan to form rounded edges of pie shell. Grate cheese into bottom of pie shell and spread evenly.

Put cottage cheese, herb, egg, egg whites, and seasonings in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Pour mixture into pie shell.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45–50 minutes until knife inserted into center comes out clean.

Variations:  To make Green Cheese Pie, rinse, cut up, and steam a bunch of broccoli, spinach, chard, collards, asparagus, or any green vegetable you like. Drain well and place in pie shell on top of grated cheese. Pour blended cottage cheese mixture over vegetables and proceed with recipe.

For Vegetable Cheese Pie, do the same for any nongreen vegetable, such as tomatoes.

For a nice added flavor with any of the versions, blend 1/4 cup smoked fish into cottage cheese mixture.

Susan Tornheim

Farm Stand

The farm stand will open for regular Saturday hours (10–2) as soon as the asparagus comes in. Please check the Web site and Facebook for updates.

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

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