Welcome to our blog!

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!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Summer Solstice - a poem from 2005 by founder Oakes Plimpton

Summer Solstice

Full moon, evening star out on the night before the Solstice.
Summer is already here though, contrary to the weatherman;
Flowers blooming, warm days - OK cloudy and cool this June,
But nice and hot this very day!

Is it not too ordinary around here?!
No all night Scandinavian bacchanal where the sun never sets!
Could we build cairns of stones and have the drama of ritual dance?
We can rise at sunrise at Robbin's Farm and say a few well-chosen words.
But will it live up to primitive ritual - to the Druids of Stonehenge!?

Do you not wish you lived then??
When I was seventeen I attended a Shoshone sun ceremony,
All night long drums and dance in a great tent
Until the sun rose in the East. Then the great Chief spoke!
Who shall speak for us?? Well, we will gather still and see the sun arise.

Robbins Farm, once a farm, is a park on a hill with a view of all of Boston. 6/5/05



Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Notes From The Field: Sunshine

Summer time is upon us in full bloom and I must say when I step back, breathe, and look at the whole picture, the farm is absolutely radiant.  The sun is now at its highest point in the sky extending its rays with great intensity upon each and every being below.  Last week the sun made itself known.  It's that time of year when we must pull out the big hats, the sun lotion, and hydrate.  Even the greenhouses must wear sun protection.  The shade cloths will go up this week so that the seedlings can tolerate the heat to come.  This is the time of year when our farming days come the closest to the length of the daylight.  It would be neat to see a time lapse of all the places we go and the work we do throughout the day: we are like humming birds, never stopping to rest our wings. 
Each morning Janelle and I harvested lettuce at our Lyman Fields, rushing to get the harvest done to be back before the field crew begins at 8am. The field crew was the newest edition to the staff last week and is making the transition into farm life in June: harvest and a lot of transplanting.  The mornings start off cool but before we know it the sweaters are off and a sweat is already broken.  Erinn and Naomi harvested the last of the lettuce for the Waltham Public Schools.  Radishes are beginning to bulb up and the bok choy is a bit bigger than the last generation. 

The garlic scapes we picked in the morning were so juicy and aromatic that even that evening in my yoga class I could smell them as I came into downward-facing dog.  I'm glad I love the smell of garlic!
We were able to plant the rest of the peppers and cantaloupe last week at our fields in Weston.  Our 4th generation of beets went in at Lyman as well as the eggplant thanks to a volunteer group through Boston Cares.  At our Waltham site we put in round two of cucumbers as well as okra and more lettuce.  On Saturday we had an amazing turn out for our biannual Crop Mob - we were able to collect and put away all the bags, hoops, and floating row cover from the spring brassica plantings.  This was a huge feat and had been weighing on our minds.  
Crop Mobsters rescuing the Swiss chard! 

Now we will be able to fertilize, cultivate, and water the kale, collards, and cabbages.  In addition, we weeded two beds of Swiss chard and 5 beds of carrots.  It is refreshing to see how people who have never met each other can come together and work together to create such a change in the landscape.  Thank you all so much for supporting this event.  If you weren't able to make it we will be hosting one more on July 23rd.
June is a challenging time of year in that we have an overwhelming amount of work to do, but more so in that it is a time of transition.  With each week harvest increases in size, time, and space.  We are heading into the hot, sunny and dry weather when we must think constantly about irrigation.  There is still seeding to be done both in the greenhouses and in the fields.  Transplanting must continue at a steady rate as well as everything that leads up to it.  And don't forget the weeds.  They are fierce and seem to jump out of nowhere when you aren't looking.  They are sneaky that's for sure.  But through these challenging times comes transformation.  There is the reward of knowing we work hard and the sense of accomplishment that comes with our dedication.  We are always learning and through this a deep sense of community forms.  We work closely together and we are like family.  
Kamelia, Lauren, Erinn and Shannon bring out fixin's for homemade ice cream
sandwiches to celebrate Naomi's birthday during lunch break.
I feel grateful for the people I work with and for the opportunity to work with the land and so close to our food.  I just want to say thank you for all the support from the farm staff and the members of Waltham Fields Community Farm.  It's so easy to get caught up in day-to-day details. 

I'm learning that it's important to observe through clear and calm eyes and remember to take time to look back on where we have been.  Remember when there were almost no leaves on the trees and the fields were barren only a couple months ago?  And also to bring ourselves to the present of where we are today, once again the fields bursting with a multitude of the color green, full of growth and bounty.  The rhythm of the farm life continues.
Looking forward to seeing some of you at the next Saturday pick up!  Enjoy the harvest,
Anna
Assistant Farm Manager
For the Farm Crew

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Notes From The Field: Push and Pull

The past week has been all about finding our harvest rhythm again and these smaller early harvests make it a bit easier for us to do that. Just like that, full days that can be dedicated to bed prep, transplanting, cultivating or greenhouse work are gone. Harvesting is rewarding work and this transition is a great one to be in the midst of, but it does take some more mental gymnastics and shifting of expectations to juggle all of the other work needed to ensure we have crops to harvest in 6, 12 or 20 weeks from now. Now that the CSA has begun, we'll be harvesting every morning, working together to get in tender greens before the heat sets in and hustling through the late morning to wrap things up by lunch. Time flies in the afternoon as we race to get in transplants, put plastic mulch down for another round of cucumbers or seed 30 trays of Swiss chard in the greenhouse. All throughout the mornings, I'm invigorated when I look out across a field to see weed crew extricating kale from giant amaranth or teasing tiny carrots away from just germinating lamb's quarters. They came out of the gates strong this past week and hand weeded or hoed roughly 10,000 row feet...
...in other words, they weeded... 
almost 2 miles of the farm!

Dan took advantage of the great cultivating weather we've had (hot, dry, windy) and zipped around killing weeds with the Super As, then took it down a few notches to flame weed the carrots, which is most effective when walking at a snail's pace. In the words of Robert Frost, we have many more miles (of weeding) to go this season, and your help would be such a boost if you can make it out to Crop Mob this Saturday. We're hoping for a critical mass of volunteers to make a big impact on our weed population, so come on out to the farm if you have some free time between 9am-noon this Saturday. Stay a little while after for some tasty snacks from Basil Tree catering. The difference that a few extra hands can make during the beginning of weed-bonanza season is tremendous and helps make our crops healthy and vigorous; it also helps our weed crew stay happy! 

Anna, Erinn, Janelle, and the early season garlic. 
This week's share will have some beautiful red and green butterhead lettuce and Swiss chard, both of which we hope to have on the stand pretty consistently throughout the season. Garlic scapes and radishes will make their debut, and will be an option in your share the next couple of weeks. I'm a big fan of the chicory family and heads of frisee will be the first of a few crops from that family that we'll be harvesting over the coming weeks. (If you don't like it raw try it sautéed with garlic scapes, olive oil and balsamic vinegar.) Kale, bok choy and spinach will round things out. On the horizon we've got a few nice plantings of beets coming on, along with some very baby summer squash that should be ready for picking soon. Pick your own crops are coming along nicely and we'll see some more peas and herbs added to the list soon. For this week though, I hope you enjoy the quintessential taste of early CSA with the sugar snap peas. I also hope you'll find some stillness and solace in the quiet rows of green and coming abundance while you're out in the fields this week.


With Gratitude,
Erinn, for the farm team

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

Rice: 

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

 
Other: 

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!