2007 Conservators Annual Dinner Meeting

Greg Maslowe: Farming Comes Alive

Newton calls itself the “Garden City.” More than anyone in recent years, Greg Maslowe has helped the city live up to its name. Greg is the resident farmer at the Newton Angino Community Farm. Greg performs multiple tasks: raising a family, running the farm, overseeing the army of volunteers who help cultivate the farm’s produce, and working as an educator for school groups that visit and learn. Greg is not your ordinary farmer: he is at work on a doctorate at Boston University. He is literate, articulate, and unafraid to get his hands dirty. Greg was the keynote speaker at the Conservators’ annual dinner on May 30.

Greg’s topic was the backyard garden. He noted that a large space is not required for productive use, but there needs to be judicious use of space, including the choice of trees and shrubs. As an example, why not choose a pear tree that not only blooms but that also produces fruit for human use, instead of a dogwood that may be pretty but, for us, less edible?

Greg showed slides of back yards in Newton that have optimized their growing areas and produce bountiful crops. Many had a grape arbor on a wall or terraced attachment. Greg advocated planting perennials that may serve as food and also a hedge.

Greg also showed slides of the Newton Angino Community Farm operation in its first year. Greg made a “play house” for his children from green beans on a matrix structure. The play house served a dual function, with Greg’s wife, Jessica, harvesting beans for dinner.

Greg grew up in Colorado and told the group that he learned his gardening skills from his mother. The family maintained a mulch pile that was used as fertilizer before planting. Fresh vegetables were available much of the year. Greg’s taste for quality produce prompted his choice of a farming career. After completing his doctorate, Greg will continue at the farm.

Watch Greg’s talk on video: Part 1 Part 2

President’s Report

Awards Presented

Environmentalist of the Year: Dan Brody

The award is given to Dan this year for his vision, skill, and dedication in building and maintaining the Newton Conservators’ Web site, thereby creating an invaluable educational and informational tool for our community.

Before Dan took on the task of developing our Web site, the Conservators’ activities were published primarily through our hard copy and email newsletters and were available to subscribers. Our Web site is open to everyone. Our Web site contains notices of upcoming events, trail maps and guides for those who want to explore Newton’s open spaces, news about current activities, and reprints from our current and past publications. The Newton Conservators’ Web site is an encyclopedia of information about the Conservators and has information on all aspects of our operations and goals. The Website has resulted in numerous inquiries on environmental topics and has led to an increase in awareness about us and in new memberships.

Dan is accomplished not only as a Web site developer but as a photographer. His and others’ photographs bring the life of Newton’s open spaces to anyone who comes to our site. Dan’s Web site is among the most important tools for putting the people of Newton in touch with their open spaces.

This will be the 26th Environmentalist of the Year Award presented by the Newton Conservators to an individual or group who has made a distinguished environmental contribution to our community.

Charles Johnson Maynard Award: Beth Schroeder and the Survey Team of the Land Management Committee

The Charles Johnson Maynard Award is given each year “to recognize efforts to improve biodiversity, habitat reclamation, and natural resource protection.” It is given this year to Beth Schroeder and the Survey Team of the Land Management Committee, for their detailed study and documentation of the plants and animals that inhabit Newton’s conservation lands.

As Beth explained at the annual meeting, this group has visited over 37 of Newton’s parks and conservation areas during the past year for the purpose of identifying all the flora and fauna found in each open space. This information is summarized in a master list which can be seen on the Conservator’s Website.

The information developed by the Survey Team is essential to future activities of the Land Management group. Proper management requires knowledge of just what is present at any location. Identification of problems – encroachments, dumping, the spread of invasives – is essential to a solution. The city is indebted to this group for the assessment of its open spaces.

Directors’ Award: Katherine Howard

A Directors’ Award is given this year to Katherine Howard for her work to preserve and protect trees in Newton, and her essential work as Treasurer of the Newton Conservators. Her interest in helping to preserve the chestnut tree has resulted in an increased awareness of tree preservation. Katherine is a tireless worker on many aspects of the Newton Conservators including being in charge of our budget and payment system. Her suggestions at monthly meetings, walks and talks, and other activities have been essential to our successes.

Directors’ Award: Martha Horn

A Directors’ Award is given this year to Martha Horn for her continual input and activity to maintain open space in Newton. Martha is a remarkable civil servant, as she is an active conservationist within the framework of working for the City of Newton. Martha Horn has been an extremely active advocate for the proper use of Newton’s open space for its residents and students. Her support for the Environmental Science Program (ESP) has been essential for its continuation.