Newton Conservators Nature Notes
Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Greetings!  The Newton Conservators Fall 2007 Newsletter is in the mail to official Newton Conservators members.  A PDF of the current issue is attached to this email and is also available online at newsletters/sep07.pdf.  Please take a look at it.  Our last paper issue was delayed a bit by the post office and we wanted to make sure members received it one way or another in a timely manner.  We supplement it with some other information here.


Note a number of important events this week that we wanted to make you aware of:  Habitat Groundbreaking Ceremony at 76 Webster Park on Wednesday at 10 am,  our Fall lecture on Edible Plants on Thursday evening at the library (7 pm) and a Fern Walk this coming Sunday (1 pm).  See details below


This bulletin is sponsored by the Newton Conservators, the local open space organization in Newton and it also serves as the organization’s means of sending out time sensitive information.  Welcome to the many new readers of this free email newsletter.  If you wish to be removed from this email list, simply reply with "remove" in the message or subject.  (Note: email addresses mentioned in this newsletter substitute (AT) for @ to foil spammers). 

dnesday, September 19, 10 am

Groundbreaking for First Habitat for Humanity Project in Newton
Home ownership in Newton is the dream of many families but unfortunately not affordable for all.  That dream is about to become a reality however for two families, the La Rosee's and the Jackson's, as Newton's first Habitat for Humanity project comes to fruition.  On Wednesday morning (September 19) at 10 am, there will be a groundbreaking and blessing of the land ceremony for the Habitat for Humanity portion of the 76 Webster Park CPA project.  (Please note that the event is at 10 AM and not 10:30 AM as was printed in the Tab last week). 
One of the first CPA projects put forth by the Newton Conservators was for the property at 76 Webster Park in West Newton which was owned by Irene Forte, beloved violin teacher who passed away at the age of 104.  The City of Newton originally acquired the property at 76 Webster Park with Community Preservation Act funds in a proposal from the Newton Conservators, Newton Conservation Commission, Newton Housing Authority in cooperation with Habitat Greater Boston.   The Forte property was divided into three lots, one lot comprising two thirds of the property was designated as open space which will increase the size of  the adjacent Dolan Pond Conservation Area by about 10%.  The remaining one third contains the Habitat lot as well as the original Forte house which is administered by the Newton Housing Authority and is currently occupied by a lovely and grateful family. You can check out some of the early history of the project on the Conservators website at dolan2.htm, dolan3.htm, and dolan4.htm.
A duplex unit for two families will be constructed on the Habitat site in the style of the original adjacent Forte family homestead.  City and Habitat officials, Newton clergy, the families who have been selected, and community members will participate in a ceremony to bless the land before construction commences.  The project will hopefully be fully  completed by the end of 2008.  Already there has been some clearing where the house will stand and foundation work will be done over the next few weeks after groundbreaking.  Habitat counts on the support of  sponsors, donors and volunteers to help make homeownership a possibility for many deserving families.  Both group and individual volunteers are an integral part of Habitat. Each year, around 3,000 volunteers give their time and expertise through on-site construction days and committee contributions. 
Habitat for Humanity Greater Boston was founded in 1987. Since then 55 homes have been built or renovated in the Greater Boston area.   Habitat for Humanity homeownership provides secure affordable housing to low-income individuals.  Habitat believes that homeownership is a vital step in creating self-esteem in both families and neighborhoods, and is the most basic way to break successive generations of poverty.  Families are selected based on their level of need, willingness to partner and accept responsibility, and their ability to pay the mortgage.  As with all Habitat projects, the families who will occupy the units will participate heavily in the build along with many community volunteers, completing at least 300 hours of sweat equity and an additional 100 hours of homeowner education classes.

Habitat for Humanity Greater Boston ( will be continuing an active fundraising campaign for this project.  Habitat Greater Boston is a 501 (c)(3) charitable organization. Their projects are funded primarily by private donations from individuals, community groups, corporations, charities, foundations, schools, and religious organizations.  For further information, please contact Habitat at (617) 423-2223.  Donations for the Newton project may be sent to: Habitat for Humanity - Greater Boston, PO Box 610242, Newton, MA 02461 and made payable to "Habitat for Humanity Greater Boston (put Newton Project in the memo line).
The project will be completed over the next 15-18 months or so and there will be opportunities for volunteering and contributions to the project which will be set up in the near future.  Habitat is looking for more local folks who might be willing to work on the local organizing committee for this project.  If people are interested in joining the Committee to work on the project and do fundraising, they can contact local committee chair Judith Strull (617-965-1247 office, email judith AT 
The event is during the work day for many of us, but everyone is invited to attend.   Webster Park is a street off Webster Street, three blocks west of Cherry Street in West Newton.  Parking for the event will be on the Webster Park loop and on adjacent streets off Webster Street.  For local information on the event, contact Ted Kuklinski

(617-969-6222, dolanpond AT 


 The 2007 Newton Conservators Fall Lecture
Edible Wild Plants of New EnglandA Lecture Slideshow with Naturalist Educator John Root
Thursday, September 20, 2007, 7 pm
Druker Auditorium, Newton Free Library, 330 Homer Street, Newton Centre, MA
 In Maine, a vast field in front of the Jordan Pond House in Acadia National Park is filled with wild berries but a mother hurries her child along who wanted to pick them - "they don't look safe to eat", she tells her daughter.  How sad not to recognize the treats that are wild blueberries, tasty and full of antioxidants.  The middle aged woman was leaning off the bridge at the Dolan Pond Conservation area snipping some large leaves from a plant growing around one of the trees.  When queried she said she needed some grape leaves for a special Greek dish and she knew these were very fresh.   Japanese knotweed is one of the most difficult to remove invasive plants in our conservation areas and gardens.  However did you know that its tender springtime stalks make a good substitute for rhubarb! 
Learn to eat your way through the woods with the help of naturalist educator John Root.  The Newton Conservators Fall Lecture, "Edible Wild Plants of New England", is a comprehensive introduction to the identification and uses of our native plants for food and beverage.  This slide show lecture will be supplemented by a display of fresh specimens for participants to examine and sample.  Seasons of availability, habitats, historical uses, methods of preparation, nutritional value, healing properties, and guidelines for ecologically responsible and safe foraging will be presented as well. 
John Root (, jroot AT is a naturalist and educator with a BA in Biology from Oberlin College and had done graduate studies in Botany at University of Maryland and the University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill) and in education at Cambridge College (Springfield, MA) and Columbia Union College (Takoma Park, MD).  A resident of AMherst, MA, he is the founder and field walk leader of the Pioneer Valley Mycological Society.  With his diverse background, he has also taught junior high school science, operated a day care program featuring nature exploration, and has been a camp counselor in several summer camps promoting awareness and appreciation of nature.  In addition to his edible plants program, he offers school and library programs on wildflowers, healing plants, and mushrooms of the Northeast.  He also is an instructor of piano and woodwinds at the Community Music School of Springfield, Northampton Community Music School, Deerfield Academy, and Northampton Center for Children and Families and offers musical programs for children and seniors performs as part of the Swingtime Quartet.
This free event takes place on Thursday, September 20,  7 pm, at the Druker Auditorium at the Newton Free Library, 330 Homer Street in Newton Centre.   A pamphlet with descriptions of plants and their uses, recipes, and a bibliography for further study will distributed to participants at the conclusion of the program.  For more information, contact Ted Kuklinski, 617-969-6222, dolanpond AT, or visit lectures.htm..   Check out John Root's website and programs at and contact him at jroot AT The Newton Conservators Lecture Series has been cosponsored Newton Free Library (, 617-796-1360)and the Newton Conservators, Newton's land trust organization, helping to preserve Newton's open space for over 45 year.  The Conservators extend sincere appreciation to former library public relations director Beth Purcell for her assistance with the lecture series over the past five years and welcome new director Ellen Meyers.

Newton Conservators Fall Walks 2007

Each Spring and Fall, the Newton Conservators organizes a series of walks to local open space areas. These walks are led by knowlegeable leaders and are open to the public. They normally last for an hour or two. Some events are for bicycle or canoe. These walks are a great way to get to know open space areas in Newton. The current walk schedule is also posted online at walks.htm.

Sunday, September 23,  1-3 pm
Ferns By the Blue Heron Trail

 There is a lush conservation area south of Nahanton Park.  We will follow a loop trail, and you can learn to identify about a dozen common ferns.  We will see a large patch of wild Ostrich Fern and a horsetail.  Wear long pants and sensible shoes.  Meet at the parking lot right off Nahanton Rd. just before (east of) the bridge over the Charles River.  Led by Don Lubin  donlubin AT or 617-208-8689.

Sunday, September 30, 2007, 2-4 pm
Charles River Lake District Canoe Trip

This trip is a leisurely paddle that explores the Charles River Lake District. Starting at Charles River Canoe Service, off Commonwealth Avenue, you will pass along the MDC duck feeding area and park land and go though the narrow channel at Norumbega Park .The trip continues to the Lake district, including Fox Island, the views of the Islington Peninsula and Mount Feake Cemetery and views of the Waltham Watch factory. This lake is well populated with ducks, geese, blue herons and the occasional hawk and egrets.  Using portable field microscopes, you will also look at the small creatures that inhabit the waters. Bring a lunch for a stop and binoculars if you'd like.   If you would like to join the trip, need a canoe, or could loan a canoe, call the trip leader, William Hagar, at 617-964-2644.
Sunday, October 7, 2-4 pm
Kennard Park

 A walk along the trails of the Kennard properties, where a 32-acre post-agricultural forest has grown up on 19th century farmland that became an early 20th century gentleman's estate and finally a Newton park.  Adjacent to Brookline's 58-acre Lost Pond properties.  Explore South Meadow Brook, the mixed and conifer woodlands with colonial stonewalls, a red maple swamp with century-old trees, and throughout, a wide variety of trees, shrubs, and ferns.   Meet at the main entrance, 246 Dudley Road.  Trip leader Larry Burdick,  617-584-4633.

Norumbega Park, Islington Road Oval, and MDC Park,
Sunday, October 14, 2-4 pm

You will explore the trail system that goes through the remains of Norumbega Park, a 13-acre park that was rescued from development when the privately-owned Norumbega Park closed. You will see a meadow, steep pines and a hemlock grove that opens to a wonderful view of the Charles River as well as the little known MDC park that is hidden behind the Marriott hotel.  Meet at the Norumbega Park entrance, near the remains of the sunken garden that is located at the Marriott-Norumbega boundary line on Commonwealth Avenue.  Call Jane E. Sender, 617–244-5681.
Biking Tour of the Aqueduct Trail through Newton, Needham, and Wellesley
Sunday, October 21, 2-4 pm
For the past several years we have conducted a very popular bike tour on the Aqueduct Trail through Newton, Needham and Wellesley. The trip is a 1 1/2 to 2 hour tour.  While mostly leisurely, it is sometimes strenuous. The tour is for ages 12 and up. Children must have an adult and all riders must wear helmets and use bikes that are able to travel off road. The tour runs through established paths, pinewoods, meadows and hills. You will travel near backyards, and riders should be respectful of the privacy of homeowners.   Meet in front of the Starbucks near the Waban MBTA Station.  Riders may be limited depending upon response and interest.  Call Henry Finch at 617- 964-4488.

Charles River Bike Trip
Sunday, October 28, 2-4 pm
A low energy tour de force will head downstream toward the Museum of Science along the Charles River Pathway. Peter Kastner will talk about the development of the Charles River Basin. No test will be given after the tour. Bring snacks for a rest at the Hatch Shell. Helmets are required.  Park at the MDC parking lot off Pleasant St., Watertown, adjacent to the Sasaki Landscape Office sign and meet at the stone pillars on Galen Street.  Call Peter Kastner, board member, at 617-244-6094.

 Newton History Museum EventsFor more information on the following events and the museum visit:


Sunday September 23, 2 -3:30 pm
The Estates of Centre Street
 The stretch of Centre Street that includes Boston College Law School, Carroll Center for the Blind, and two Catholic girl's schools retains a grassy and spacious landscape unique in Boston. In the 19th century, the area was a semi-feudal society consisting of a few rich families and their many servants: coachmen, gardeners, cooks, and maids. How did these country estates end up as private school campuses instead of being subdivided? We will walk through the campuses to see the original main houses and hear about the colorful people who lived there. Park at Carroll School for the Blind, 770 Centre Street, lower lot.  Tour begins at the parking lot. Free. Saturday, September 29, 12 noon to 5 pmSmithsonian Museum Day Free admission for two to the Newton History Musuem with a Museum Day admission card, available online at Sponsored by Smithsonian Magazine to celebrate the country's cultural offerings. Sunday, September 30, 1-3 pmWalking Tour of Norumbega
Find out what a "lindy loop" was and discover the origin of the word "ca·noo·dling"!  Using materials from the museum's collection as a guide, we'll stroll grounds of the former Norumbega Park, and discover how the land was used when it was Newton's playground. Meet at the Commonwealth Avenue entrance to Norumbega Conservation land, east of the Marriott Hotel's parking lot. Free.


Crystal Lake Update

by Peter Kastner and Eric Reenstierna (from newsletter)


The public beach at Crystal Lake got a boost last year with the acquisition of the adjacent Hannon property, to expand the heavily-used site.  Now an additional adjacent property, the house at 230 Lake Avenue, has been put under agreement for acquisition by the City. When the purchase is made, the city’s Crystal Lake site will have tripled in size from its original 3/4 acres (where the existing bathhouse is located) to a full 2 1/4 acres, with a much longer shorefront. The expanded site will increase public access and provide a variety of boating, swimming, and other recreational opportunities. 


Speaking at his press conference on September 4, Mayor Cohen announced, “Last weekend we closed another successful summer season at Crystal Lake.  If you were among the 906 adults or 663 children who purchased memberships, . . . you would have noticed how the acquisition of 20 Rogers Street has made a world of difference in the Crystal Lake experience.  We now have use of our entire beachfront and a natural grassy area that will soon be open for picnics and other passive recreation activities. 


“I am very pleased to announce that last week the City took an exciting step closer to enhancing the Crystal Lake experience even more for many generations to come.  We were recently informed by the owner of 230 Lake Avenue that she intended to sell her home and property.  The City acted quickly by getting the lot and home appraised, and after some brief negotiations, last week our offer in the amount of $1.95 million was accepted by the owner. . . .


The acquisition of 230 Lake Avenue will be discussed at the next CPC meeting on Wednesday, September 26, which is held starting at 7 pm in City hall Room 209.  Keep up with progress at Crystal Lake by keeping an eye on   



CPA Happenings


Alice Ingerson, CPA Planner, reports that the draft fy08 plan and handbook/proposal form are also now online. Comments are welcome - if I receive them by the morning of Sept 20th, she will try to include
them in the packet sent to the CPC before their meeting:  The fy08 CPA Plan includes a NEW proposal deadline, schedule, and a NEW proposal form.   You can get to these documents by clicking on the "Plan and Application" button at the top of the CPC's home page at  .


This has been a busy space for open space preservation.  Over the summer, the CPC approved the acquisition of the Wightman property at 30 Wabasso Street adjacent to the Flowed Meadow Conservation Area.  Mr Wighman had passed away earlier this year and the city was able to negotiate an acceptable price with his heirs.  Their has been also been activity and discussion on another parcel on Warren Street near the Webster Conservation area.



October's Environmental Show on NewTV's Blue Channel 


In case you were not able to attend this past spring's Newton Conservators Annual Dinner,  you will be able to watch the presentation by Greg Maslowe on the October broadcast of the Environmental Show entitle "Home Grown".  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, Gregwill continue at the farm.  Check out this interesting presentation next month.


Meanwhile check out the September Environmental Show  which features interviews with Dr. Srdjan Nedeljkovic, physician and author of a comprehensive report on the extension of the Green Line through Newton Upper Falls into Needham, and with James O'Connell of the National Parks Service,  a historian with an interest in street railways in Newton.  Both guests are Newton residents and they will discuss the benefits of this extension for Newton residents and the environment.  Compared to other communities, this is the most economic extension of the T anywhere, with a win-win situation for all.  Among other benefits, carbon monoxide will be cut by 100 tons and carbon dioxide will be reduced by 2500 tons. 

The Environmental Show is a volunteer partnership between Newton Conservators and the Green Decade Coalition with each organization presenting on alternate months.   Learn to think globally and act locally with the Green Decade Coalition and learn more about your parks with the Conservators!  The Environmental Show is broadcast at eight times weekly for a month duration on the NewTV Blue channel (Comcast Channel 10, RCN Channel 15):  The Environmental Show is currently shown on NewTV's Blue Channel  ( on Monday (3 pm), Tuesday (1:30 am, 11:30 pm), Wednesday (11:30 am), Thursday (12 pm, 4 pm, 7:30 pm), and Saturday (10 am).  Newton Conservators shows are hosted by Cris Criscitiello and other members of the Conservators.  Shows produced by the Green Decade are hosted by Beverly Droz with guests from a variety of environmental organizations and interests. All of the Newton Conservators' past episodes of the Environmental Show are available on the web via  environmentalshowontheweb.htm and may be viewed online at any time. 


Natural Newton Nature Blog!

Jon Regosin, who has long been involved with the Newton Conservators and Newton Angino Community Farm, works for Mass Wildlife as well.  He has been posting in blog form some of his local nature observations.  These give a wonderful insight into the changes of the season from a naturalist's perspective in text and photo.  Put this blog in your nature related favorites list:

Newton Angino Community Farm Notes

Newton Community Farm, Inc. is the non-profit operator of Newton Angino Community Farm.  They operate the city-owned farm, the last farm in the City of Newton, for the benefit of the public.  Their mission is to preserve and improve this historic open space site for the benefit of the community, to provide local, sustainably grown produce, and to educate the public about sustainable use of land and other natural resources.  A portion of the food grown on site is donated to people in need through the Newton Food Pantry.  Vegetables are available to the public at the Farm's on-site stand (Tu-Fr 3-7 and Sa 10-2) or at the Friday American Legion Post 440 or Tuesday Cold Spring Park Farmers' Markets (1:30 pm- 6 pm). 

The Farm is having a dinner on Tuesday evening, September 18 at Lumiere's to benefit educational programs and site improvements at Newton Community Farm. This four course dinner with wine pairings will feature locally grown vegetables from area farms prepared by award-winning chef Michael Leviton.  $150 per person/  Please reply to Jon Regosin at (617) 244-0736 or berkowitz.regosin AT to see if seats are still available.

Newton Conservators Notes

The Newton Conservators are a nonprofit citizen advocacy organization which actively promotes the acquisition, creation, and preservation of natural open spaces for the people of Newton. Since its formation in the late 1950's, The Newton Conservators has been instrumental in safeguarding more than 200 acres of open space in Newton, creating several major public parks, and enacting ground-breaking environmental ordinances with respect to the protection and preservation of trees, wetlands and clean air, and the conservation of energy. that promotes the protection and preservation of natural areas, including parks, park lands, playgrounds, forests and streams, which are open or may be converted to open spaces for the enjoyment and benefit of the people of the City of Newton, Massachusetts for scientific study, education, and recreation.  It further aims to disseminate information about these and other environmental matters.  A primary goal is to foster the acquisition of land and other facilities to be used for the encouragement of scientific, recreational, educational, literary, and the other public pursuits that will promote good citizenship and the general welfare in the City of Newton. 


If you would like to join the Newton Conservators, please send your name, address, phone and email address (if you wish email alerts) to The Newton Conservators, Inc., P.O. Box 590011, Newton Centre, MA  02459.  Membership Options are the following:  Individual $25, Family Member $35, Sustaining Member $50, Donor $75, Patron $100.  Membership is tax deductible.  Your membership includes the Newton Conservators Newsletter and emails and invitations to participate in guided tours of local conservation areas, lectures, and other programs and activities.  You will also receive by mail a copy of the new Newton Conservators open space map book, "Walking Trails in Newton's Park and Conservation Lands". 

The  Newton Conservators Newsletter is the official publication of the Newton Conservators and may be found online at newsletter.htm.  The latest newsletter is available online in PDF format at newsletters/sep07.pdf.  We have some plans in the new year for combining our paper based Newton Conservators Newsletter with this email based Nature Notes.  Members may have the option to receive the Newsletter just in email form - saving trees in the process.  There will likely be four issues that will be available in mailed paper form for those who prefer.  In between issues may be available just in email form.  In this and the following issue we incorporate some of the articles found in the Newton Conservators newsletter.  Material in this newsletter is primarily compiled from other sources and newsletters.


The Newton Conservators have an active Land Management Group led by Landscape Designer, Beth Schroeder.  Each week, usually on Tuesdays, the group had visited one of our open space areas to catalog the flowers, plants, animals, and other creatures that are found there.  If you are experienced and knowledgeable in the areas of nature related identification, please let us know if you would like to assist next season in this long term effort to catalog the biodiversity in Newton.  The results from the past year's efforts have recently been catalogued into a summary spreadsheet which will provide a very helpful record of Newton's biodiversity.  Please contact Beth at 617-527-7069 if you are interested in this important biodiversity initiative.  

The Walking Trails in Newton's Park and Conservation Lands map guide put out by the Newton Conservators is a great resource for those who would like to explore Newton’s open space.  It is a 56-page guide containing detailed trail maps of 27 conservation areas in Newton, featuring parks, ponds, gardens, trails, canoe launches, nature guides, rock climbing, scenic views, handicapped access, geological features, and bird watching areas. The guide also contains photos, driving directions, interesting historical details, and an overall map of showing the locations of the 27 natural.  Many more folks have been observed out in our conservation areas with their trail guide in hand;.  It is available by web, mail and also at Newtonville Books and New England Mobile Book Fair.  Walking Trails in Newton's Parks and Conservation Lands may be purchased for $7.95 online at buyaguide.htm or by mailing a check payable to The Newton Conservators, Inc. to The Newton Conservators, P.O. Box 590011, Newton Center, MA 02459.   It makes a great gift for your outdoors and nature loving friends. 


The Newton Conservators are starting to consider the next edition of this great guide, partly due to additional open spaces and features added in Newton due to such things as the adoption of the CPA!  If you have any corrections that you think should be included please send them to The Newton Conservators, P.O. Box 590011, Newton Center, MA 02459.

If you would like to be more directly kept apprised of future nature related events, walks, lectures, and exhibits, you are invited to join the Newton Conservators sponsored "Newton Conservators Nature Notes" email list by sending an email request to emaillist(AT) or contacting Ted Kuklinski (617-969-6222).  Newton Conservators Nature Notes is automatically sent to members of the Newton Conservators who provide their email addresses as one of their membership benefits.  Newton Conservators Nature Notes may be found online at naturenotes.htm.  You are welcome to submit any items for this sporadical newsletter via email to the same address.  Please feel free to forward our newsletter to others you feel might be interested in the information contained herein.