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Welcome to our blog! Learn about our farm operation, public programs, and the people behind our work through the Notes from the Field and Education sections. Peruse the Recipes section for some staff favorites.

Waltham Fields Community Farm (incorporated as Community Farms Outreach, Inc.) is a nonprofit farming organization focusing on sustainable food production, fresh food assistance, and on-farm education. For more information about Waltham Fields check out our website!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Notes from the Field - Fall Song

Obligingly, the weather and light have made abrupt changes, ushering in the end of our summer season together.  The golden sunlight at 4pm yesterday was beautiful but weak and waning.  A heavy frost, even ice, lingered in the long shadows in the fields throughout the morning after a low of 23 degrees on Sunday night.  NOAA has officially called it the end of the growing season in the Northeast. 
We're moving towards our darkest day, more rapidly now it feels, only to immediately begin the tilt, orbit and rotation to our longest one once we reach it.  We still have a lot of food to harvest, store and distribute through our November/December Winter CSA (purchase your Winter Share today!), to the local schools, and for donations to food assistance programs in the region - but the cold is definitely upon us.  Thank you for being a part of this farm; I hope that the season was as enjoyable and delicious for you as it was for us.
This winter, we'll hash out the lessons we've learned from this season and get some much needed rest, readying to greet you again next year, just days away from the summer
solstice.  In the meanwhile, take a moment to savor Mary Oliver's poignant articulation of this transitional time of year.  Stay warm, be well and know that we are grateful to have you as a part of the Waltham Fields community.

For the Farm Crew,
Erinn Roberts, Farm Manager

Fall Song by Mary Oliver
Farm Manager Erinn harvesting sweet fall carrots!

Another year gone, leaving everywhere
its rich spiced residues: vines, leaves,

the uneaten fruits crumbling damply
in the shadows, unmattering back

from the particular island
of this summer, this NOW, that now is nowhere

except underfoot, moldering
in that black subterranean castle

of unobservable mysteries - roots and sealed seeds
and the wanderings of water. This

I try to remember when time's measure
painfully chafes, for instance when autumn

flares out at the last, boisterous and like us longing
to stay - how everything lives, shifting

from one bright vision to another, forever
in these momentary pastures

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Notes from the Field - Autumnal Greetings and Partings

This week you have probably noticed dramatic changes in the farm landscape--tomato stakes have been pulled, large chunks of tomato and brassica fields have been mowed, cover crop is growing strong after the 5+ inches of rain we received ten days ago.  Normally, this time of year we're keeping our eye on the many beds of roots that we're counting on for the Winter CSA Share, looking to strike a balance between giving them time in the cold weather to sweeten up but avoiding the decimation that we know our local vole and goose populations are capable of.  More recently our big concern turned out to be the cabbage field.  Knowing that many inches of rain was forecasted, we realized that the tender, flat drum head cabbages (aptly named Tendersweet) would all burst with any extra bit of moisture.  We harvested half the field one day, and the rest the next.  As it turned out, the other green cabbages and one variety of red were also on the verge of bursting and they quickly made it onto the next episode of what Roy deemed our farm reality TV show, "Cabbage Rescue".  We're usually maxed out for cold storage during this time of year, but having a cooler full of cabbages this early in October makes it feel particularly tight.  Luckily, they're a crop that will hold in the right conditions for many months, and I'm feeling relieved to know that we have them safely out of the field.

In addition to cabbages, you're starting to see the autumn greens really rolling in, most of which tend to fall into the "farmers' favorite" category-the unique deliciousness of broccoli raab and mustard greens is a much talked about topic during the morning harvest.  Unfortunately, some of our fall roots have made a poor showing this year.  We seeded parsnips two or three times through early to mid-summer, with no luck at all.  They're a finicky germinator and though we usually get something from a planting, this year's hot and dry weather seemed to be too much for those little wisps of seeds to find their potential.  Rutabagas and purple top turnips also took a hit from the extreme weather, and while they germinated and their greens have been looking great, the root formation is very spotty.  Much as we tried to get water rotated through the farm consistently, it was a big challenge to get enough moisture in a year when most fields needed two weekly rounds of irrigation.  But salad turnips and red radishes have come along nicely throughout the fall.  Leeks have been stellar, and you'll see them once again this week, as well as some delicious garlic.

The most dramatic event of the week will happen quietly on the farm, when Zannah Porter works her final day with us on Saturday.  Zannah joined us in 2012 after spending a couple of years at Land's Sake farm in Weston.  She ran the gauntlet in her interview, sitting down with Amanda, Andy, Dan and myself.  We all knew afterwards that she could be an important addition and complement to the farm, and four years later, you can see that we were proven correct. By her second season, she was managing the Gateways property in Weston, which has remained her focus in subsequent years.  She has also taken careful care of our equipment fleet, staying on top of maintenance and researching and making new purchases to increase efficiency and production.  Zannah has cared deeply about and taken deep care of Waltham Fields from the start and working with her has been one of the highlights of my time here.  She has a strong appreciation for the natural and non-human world going on around her, and farming is just one expression of that.  By working with Zannah, we've all vicariously enjoyed canoe trips through Maine, hikes in the White Mountains, childhood romps through Virginian creeks and woods, stints working for a white water rafting company and all sorts of other adventures.  And then of course, there's Banjo, the favorite farm dog of the past four years. Both of them will be missed dearly, but we couldn't be happier for her to take on her next adventure as the head Farm Manager at Powisset Farm.  This farm won't be the same without her, so if you see her around the fields this week, give her a big thank you.

Erinn Roberts
Farm Manager

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Notes from the Field - Harvest Moon

Sunday night was the harvest moon, which also happened to be a lunar eclipse (and a super moon and blood moon too!).  It was a special evening to see the glowing orange sphere that blocked the light of the sun so perfectly, aligning the earth, moon, and sun just right on a clear, warm night.  This moon brought a lot of people out and I felt a sense of community and connection to where we live.  It makes complete sense that we call it the harvest moon considering this is how we spend the majority of our waking hours these weeks.  It is a time when the community comes together and shares the bounty of the harvest.

We are in the midst of the bountiful fall harvest and the farm is truly shining.  All of our hard work, long hours, and sore bodies are paying off.  The other day Dan told me that Waltham Fields is a fall farm and it's true.  The cabbages are as large as bowling balls, the carrots are sweet and crunchy, and the heads of broccoli are small trees.  The crops that we grew in the spring time are now making their way back into the mix.  Once again we have radishes, haukeri turnips, bok choy, endive and escarole. 

There is excitement over the change in season.  I find myself with the desire to cook more complicated meals that require hot ovens and big pots.  Just as bees and squirrels are packing away food for the winter, so are we.  My husband Ben and I have been on a kick of pickling carrots, freezing tomato sauce, and making pesto to try to capture the essence of summer for the cold months ahead.   

This past week we finished our watermelon harvest with flying colors.  Watermelon deserves the highest achievement award this year for its taste, texture, size and color.  We have begun the long haul of sweet potato harvest, which is a delicate process.  First, we must mow the heart shaped leaves and vines and then pitch fork each plant.  Next we begin the excavation process of carefully uncovering what almost feels like fossils.  Sweet potatoes have sensitive skin so even a scratch of a nail can injure the outer pink layer preventing it from healing fully.  They must cure in a warm place for a couple weeks so that they can fully develop their sugars and store long term through the winter.  On another note, our onions and garlic have been all cleaned up and accounted for, so now we are able to assess how much is to be distributed between the summer and winter shares.

The energy of the farm has settled down a bit.  It's more peaceful with room for full breaths.  We are ever affected by our environments.  With the equinox just behind us, the light and dark are more equal to each other, leaving me with a greater sense of balance.  The morning air is fresh, crisp, and chilly.  On the farm this week we found ourselves in winter hats and beginning to wear layers.  It's a challenge to wake up in the morning since the sunrise is not until 6:30am and wake up time for me is at 5:45.  Despite our more relaxed state of mind, knowing that the hustle and bustle of the summer has past, there is still a lot to be done.  With every moment that we are not harvesting, there are still weeds to pull, drip tape and tomato stakes to clean up, and cover crops to be sowed.  Here I would like to give a special thanks to Barbara, a volunteer who has done tremendous work for us these past couple weeks.  She has single-handedly saved our next planting of fennel as well as beets and cauliflower.  Thank you so much. 

It continues to be extremely dry and we are irrigating most days.  Once again we hooked up our old irrigation pipes and an oscillating sprinkler in addition to the water reel that has proved vital to the life of our crops this year.  We received our seed garlic in the mail and will soon be dividing the bulbs into cloves and preparing its new seven-month home. 

As we move into the colder, darker, more restful part of the season we will continue to harvest.  While the summer crops of tomatoes, eggplants, and summer squashes are coming to their end, cauliflower, braising mixes, and turnips are just about to show us their stuff.  It's the time of year for celebration and reflection.  And most important of all deep sleep and good eating.

Enjoy the bounty, 
Anna Kelchlin, Assistant Grower

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Collards Galore - Recipes from Newbury College Students

Chef/Teacher Paige Haringa
helps with harvest!
Chef Paige Haringa, Faculty at the Newbury College Culinary School, has been a longtime supporter of Waltham Fields; she was a shareholder for a few years and worked with her students to cater Sprout in 2012 and 2013, our annual silent auction fundraiser to raise money for the Farm's food access and education work. This year, Paige and her students from Newbury College's Ethics of Eating class came to Waltham Fields to learn more about our farm's food access work. Paige and her students harvested collards from the fields and created several different cheap and easy recipes to sample at our Outreach Market (a special weekly program providing organic produce to low-income households). Paige's students were enthusiastic and inventive with their recipes, and Outreach Market participants loved their fresh take on collard greens; many more of them ended up going home with collards after sampling these delicious recipes. Thanks so much to Paige and her students, it was wonderful hosting them at the Outreach Market this year!
Newbury College Culinary Students in the Ethics of Eating class

Here are the 5 delicious Collard Greens recipes the students made...
Give them a try!
Collard Greens Salad with Ginger Dressing & Seed Brittle

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated peeled ginger

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, divided

5 teaspoons honey, divided

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

Kosher salt

4 tablespoons raw sunflower seeds

2 tablespoons raw pumpkin seeds (pepitas)

2 tablespoons raw sesame seeds

1 bunch collard greens, center ribs and stems removed, leaves thinly sliced

1 fuji apple sliced, tossed in lemon juice

To make the dressing, whisk vinegar, ginger, 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes, and 1 tsp honey in a large bowl. Whisk in oils; season with salt.

Combine remaining 4 tsp honey, remaining red pepper flakes, and 3 Tbsp water in a small bowl. Toast sunflower, pumpkin, and sesame seeds in 350 degree oven, spread out on a sheet pan. Toast until sesame seeds are lightly browned. Transfer the nuts to a saute pan over medium heat. Add honey mixture and cook, stirring, until seeds stick together in small clumps, about 3 minutes. Scrape seed mixture onto parchment paper; let cool. Break into small clusters.

Toss greens with enough dressing to coat in a large bowl; season with salt. Squeeze and rub collards with your hands to tenderize until glossing and darkened in color, about 30 seconds. Drizzle salad with more dressing and serve topped with seeds and apple slices.

Collard Green Pasta

8 oz pasta 

2 tbsp olive oil, divided

4 cloves garlic, minced and divied

1/2 cup panko bread crumbs

1 tbsp nutritional yeast

1 tsp red pepper flakes (or less/more to taste)

1 large bunch collard greens

1 large lemon, zest and juice

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil; add the pasta and cook until al dente according to package directions. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of cooked pasta water.

Heat a large non-stick pan over medium heat. 

Heat 1 tbsp olive oil and the garlic. Stir quickly so it doesn't burn, about 30 seconds, and then add the bread crumbs. Cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring often until golden brown. Add in the nutritional yeast and red pepper flakes. Remove the bread crumbs from the pan and wipe clean.

Remove the stems from the collard greens and stack the leaves on top of one another. Tightly roll, like a cigar. Starting at the end, thinly slice the collard leaves. 

Heat the remaining 1 tbsp. oil in the large non-stick pan. Add the remaining garlic clove and the collard leaves with a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook until the collards are wilted and cooked through. 

Add in the pasta and stir together. If the pasta is too dry add in a little of the reserved pasta water.

Add in the reserved bread crumbs, lemon juice and zest. Season to taste. 

Collard Green Vodka Rotini

10 oz rotini pasta, dried

1 oz sage, torn up into small pieces

2 large collard green leaves, in 1-inch thick ribbons

1 oz chopped parsley

1/2 small yellow onion, chopped

1 tsp red pepper flakes, less to taste

3/4 cup grape tomatoes, halved

2 tbsp butter, to saute

4 oz vodka, any variety

2 garlic cloves, sliced thinly

4 oz Parmesan cheese, grated, plus more for garnish

1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil for garnish

Bring a pot of water to boil, season with salt. Once boiling, add pasta, cook to desired firmness. 

Heat a separate pan to medium low heat. Add butter, cook until frothy (~1 minute), add in onions and let sweat for one minute. Add garlic and collard greens and cook until tender (~4 minutes). Add in red pepper flakes and tomatoes, cook for about 3 minutes.

Add vodka, increase heat to high and cook off alcohol (~2 minutes). Return to heat to medium low. Once alcohol is cooked off, add in pasta, stir into sauce and add fresh herbs. Grate in Parmesan cheese, fold into sauce.

Garnish with a drizzle of oil and more grated Parmesan on top.

Collard Green Pasta Salad

2 cups bow-tie pasta

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 cup of onions, small dice

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 small yellow squash, cut into 1/4" half moons

4 cups collard greens, stemmed and sliced

1 red bell pepper, diced

2 small vine tomatoes, diced

2 tsp oregano, minced

2 tsp basil, minced

1 tsp cilantro, minced

1/3 cup lemon juice

salt & pepper

crumbled feta cheese

Cook pasta to desired firmness. Strain and let cool. Do not rinse. 

Meanwhile, heat a saute pan and add a couple tablespoons of olive oil. Cook onions until translucent. Add garlic and yellow squash and cook for about 1 minute. Add collard greens and saute until tender. 

In a bowl mix the pasta with the cooked ingredients. Add the chopped tomato. dd the rest of the olive oil, chopped herbs and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Crumble feta over the top and serve.

Rice & Tofu Collarito


1 cup basmati rice

1 jalapeno, small dice

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

1 lime, zest and juice

Veggie filling: 

1 zucchini/yellow squash, diced

1 red pepper, diced

1/2 yellow onion, diced

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp coriander

1 tbsp tumeric

1 pound extra firm tofu, crumbled 

salt & pepper to taste

Red pepper dip:

2 red peppers, fire roasted

1/4 cup walnuts, toasted

1 tsp honey

1/2 cup olive oil


5 collard green leaves

1 tomato, sliced

Boil two cups of water, add rice, jalapeno, and garlic. Bring back to a boil, then turn to low heat and cover. Once cooked add in lime juice, lime zest and cilantro. Saute veggies in two tbsp oil until softened, add crumbled tofu and spices, heat through. Season as desired. For the red pepper dip, add fire roasted peppers, walnuts and honey to a food processor. With machine running, add olive oil slowly until a smooth paste forms. Season as desired.

Blanch collard greens until just cooked, about 30 seconds to 1 minute, and shock in ice water. Cut out the large vein and cut leaves into 4 equal pieces. Place 1 slice of tomato, two tablespoons of rice and one tablespoon of veggie and tofu mix in the center of the collard leaf. Roll up as if making a burrito. Dip in red pepper sauce and enjoy!

Notes from the Field - A Glimpse of Gateways

As a field crew member I have loved witnessing the strong community-farm connections at Waltham Fields Community Farm - families in our CSA share program picking their own crops in the fields in addition to the produce we've harvested for them, members of the public enjoying farm tours and events (like our free Farm Day festival this Saturday - join us from 2-5pm!), youth engaging in Learning Garden programs, and all the other moments that make up the daily hustle and bustle at the UMass Waltham site - our base of operations. This farm site is meant to be accessible so that as many people as possible can experience and enjoy it, but there is more to Waltham Fields Community Farm, including leased fields just down the road at the Lyman Estate (which you can glimpse through the trees as you drive into town on Lyman St.) and quite a bit farther down the road in Weston, are the Gateways fields we lease from the Danforth/Hyde family.
Gateways has a different feeling to it than the Waltham sites, and lately I have been appreciating these differences and the time we have been able to spend working there. Gateways is quiet and still. The fields there are large, rolling, and tree lined, and whether because of the relative isolation or the fact that Gateways doesn't reap the benefits of the weed crew and weekly volunteers, everything feels more wild. The birds and the insects seem louder there, set against a quiet backdrop of distant white noise from the highway. Somehow the mornings feel extra cool and the afternoons extra warm. Reminders of nature and life are abundant, like the cry of a hawk as it circles out over the trees, and the fresh teeth marks of a coyote that had been enjoying our watermelon. There are no buildings to be seen, and the fields have a kind of undisturbed beauty.
Earlier in the summer, some of the Field Crew worked at Gateways regularly, harvesting peppers and eggplant in the morning. These peaceful hours have been some of my favorite moments so far. Lately though, we've been going there in the afternoon, chipping away at the melon and storage onion harvest, and this perspective has been just as enjoyable. When everyone goes to Gateways, it almost feels like a field trip, and our afternoons there have been filled with energy and laughter. We have discovered together at Gateways that it is impossible to be unhappy while harvesting watermelon, and that no matter what type of bucket or basket you pick into, sweet and bell peppers are some of the most beautiful crops we grow. Last week we cruised through the pepper and eggplant harvest with the full crew (in some math-defying way, farm work seems to go by exponentially faster when just a few more people join the effort), we happily tossed around several hundred watermelon, and we got a sneak peek at the sweet potato harvest.
At this point in the season, the challenge and novelty of a new crop to harvest is especially exciting, and I'm sure our shareholders and food access recipients will also enjoy some of the most recent additions, like leeks and broccoli, as much as we have enjoyed planting and harvesting them.
It is so hard to believe that fall officially begins this week! Farming is all about shifts, and I can feel one happening now as tomato and summer squash production slows and nine pound cabbages can be found amongst the rows of fall brassicas. But change is good; it makes it easier to appreciate the contrasts and value the little things. I am excited to see what this shift will bring to Gateways and to the rest of our farm fields, and I am looking forward to all the beautiful, delicious food still to come.
Claire Penney, Field Crew Member

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Notes from the Field - Fall Forward

It's finally happening - the chill in the early morning air is gently nudging summer aside as the fall weather arrives.  Long sleeves and even a whisper of sweaters can be spotted among the plantings if you look close enough.  Even as our most iconic summer crops are still rolling in, the maples leaves redden and fall at our feet.  Not to be outdone or humiliated just yet, the summer has chosen to retaliate with a couple of days in the mid-nineties, just in case we forgot.  But it's meteorological shenanigans like this that have made our okra one of the biggest underdog hits of the year!

This is a great year for watermelon.  We really can't emphasize enough how much we've been enjoying it.  I've seen a melon stop unstoppable people in their tracks, rendering them useless until all the juicy nectar-flesh has been meticulously lifted from the rind.  I've seen people who hate watermelon grow to love watermelon.  The supreme tastiness of this stuff is not to be taken lightly.  It's deadly serious and commands our full reverence in its presence.  The watermelon itself is a loyal servant of the unrelenting summer sun, as it leads us to remember that we, too are indentured to the brutal heat, forced to be thankful for it and the delectable fruits that it yields.  Even as the heat subsides, the melons continue to ripen, ensuring that many months from now, the uncomfortable air of this summer will be fondly remembered and measured in juiciness, not degrees Fahrenheit.

And now it's time for our brassicas to step up to center stage.  The recent rainfall has given our already-enormous plants a much-deserved boost into the fall.  Crowns of broccoli are beginning to eagerly peak up into the world, and the collard greens boldly challenge any conventional fridge to contain them.  Our kale plants have grown taller than anyone might have guessed, and they're barreling towards the colder seasons with determination and a great sense of purpose.  It bodes well for the remaining weeks of harvestable weather.
Other signs of the changing seasons are visible everywhere you look.  Where robust squash and zucchini once sprawled, the first seedlings of our winter cover crop are emerging.  All of our storage onions have finally been brought home to cure and settle in for the winter.  And if you look really closely, it seems like the tomatoes might be considering slowing down with their middle age.  But not just yet.  They're still happily producing all the fruit that we can possibly pick.  And so even as the plants wake up every morning to a chilly dew coating their leaves, the recent (and forecasted) midday heat makes it clear that this summer is choosing to go out with a bang, not a whisper.

- Roy Kresge, Field Crew

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Notes From the Field - A Thank You to Claire

This past Friday we were lucky enough to have Claire, our inimitable leader of 8 years, lend a hand in the fields, harvesting with Zannah, Anna K., Anna H.S., Claire P. and Roy.  Claire came out in the morning bearing the smile and upbeat attitude that has graced virtually every morning that I've worked with her.  Many of you have been a part of the organization for numerous years; remarkably, some of you have been here since before Claire's time and before there was even an Executive Director's position.  (Thank you!)  You have been witnesses to the growth of the organization - the development of the Learning Garden and its programs, the fabulous farm events over the years, the increase in the size of the CSA - all of which occurred under Claire's careful guidanceAs ED, Claire was a steadfast holder of the mission of WFCF, always keeping the concurrent goals around food access, farmland preservation and education at the forefront of organizational conversations.  Each program is managed by different staff members, but not without Claire as a reliable sounding board, providing a reflection of WFCF's true and constant aims. 
Claire Kozower doing the Project Bread 20-mile Walk for Hunger
Those of you who have developed a relationship with Claire over the years, and there are many, understand the immense loyalty, dedication, integrity and deep-seated passion that made her an effective and adept ED.  Much of the work she did was behind the scenes and performed without fanfare.  The tenacity of this organization is in part dependent on quiet relationships she's developed over time with individuals, families, foundations, other non-profits, partner farms, city councils and administrators, UMass officials and more.  Building relationships to maintain the relevance of WFCF in the greater context of our community, the city and the state, with an ear bent to national and global agricultural concerns is no small feat, but one that Claire performed gracefully and thoughtfully, day in and day out.
Perhaps lesser known is how much of Claire's legacy will be held within the organizational culture of Waltham Fields Community Farm.  Claire established a work environment built on mutual respect and clear communication where each staff member felt fully supported in their role and appreciated for the talents and skills that they brought as individuals and the part that they played in moving WFCF forward. She has worked at understanding how to facilitate staff doing their jobs well, especially challenging as this organization has tripled in size under her leadership. She has navigated untold organizational decisions by involving others in the process, building consensus and providing insightful and thoughtful evaluations. Claire has been the organizational touchstone for each of us, always available, always interested, always recognizing birthdays and work well done and always holding up the mission of the farm, first and foremost, for new staff to learn and longtime staff to remember.  
Claire holds that rare capacity to think equal parts with a kind heart and an analytical brain and her impact has been immeasurable.  Thank you, Claire; you will be missed.
- From Erinn and Dan Roberts, for countless staff over the years