Recently in Current Issues Category

We're Taking Vacation!

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Thumbnail image for 20606233.thb.jpgWe've been publishing this ezine/blog since 1998... non-stop!  Neither rain, nor sleet, nor snow, nor illness, nor everything-else has kept us from these rounds.  But we are needing a break, and will be quiet on this front for a while.

But -- should anything seem really, really important to push out to our readers ASAP, well, we might just come back from our publishing vacation to do it without any notice whatsoever!  Who knows? 

In the meantime, take care!

Walden Pond Closed Sat-Mon

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Closing tomorrow for Hurricane Irene from noon on Saturday through Monday.  (photo taken this morning at Thoreau's Cove at Walden Pond)

298184_10150770879390626_573905625_20507170_6565544_n.jpg©2011 Deborah Bier, all rights reserved

Fire Chief: Hurricane Irene Advisory

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By Mark Cotreau, Concord Fire Chief/Emergency Management Director

hurricane.jpgThe Concord Emergency Management Agency (CEMA), in conjunction with the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) would like to notify all residents and visitors of the impending adverse weather advisory. Hurricane Irene approaches the Continental United States and the Town of Concord is in Preparation for potentially severe weather. Intense sustained wind, bulk precipitation including flash flood conditions, and thunder storm activity are all potential adverse conditions encountered in hurricanes.

The exact timing and track of Hurricane Irene are being closely monitored by Federal, State and local officials. Early preparation and continued vigilance is of the upmost importance to public safety.  Several websites can be referred to for Hurricane planning/information.  The MEMA website is www. MEMA can also be followed on social media sites as Facebook and Twitter. The Town of Concord's website is  The National Weather Service website is

Several key suggestions can be found in detail on these sites. Valuable tips include, ensuring you have proper severe weather kits including: First Aid materials, bottled water, non-perishable foods, and essential prescribed medications if needed.
Staying informed during a Severe Weather Advisory is vital for potential changes and updates during storms. The Town of Concord urges all to educate yourself, family, and friends about Hurricane Preparedness. Carefully monitor the Media and promptly follow instructions from Public Safety officials as the storm approaches.

East Quarter Farm Magic

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Cherrie Corey's fabulous herbs and flower, with fellow EQF gardener India Rose in the center.  Total magical! The East Quarter Farm community garden feeds both body and soul for scores of Concordians...


Basil Blight Hits Concord

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basil-blight.jpg"Downy mildew" has been seen in Concord over at least the past three weeks in a variety of widespread locations for the first time ever. While there were some small areas impacted last year, it has been found to be much more troublesome this year.

Here are some links about it how to identify the problem, plus info on harvesting and disposing of the infected plants. (Photo at bottom: my harvest from my East Quarter Farm plot; photos at right here and right below: infected leaves top and bottom.) and

Here I'm going to talk about what I do with a tidal wave of fresh basil -- in some ways, a GOOD "problem" to have, because I'm not sure in my book that it's possible to actually have "too much" basil. It's to me it's part of the very best of the summer. And to put some by to eat through the year is just my way of laughing at the cold weather.

I don't think fresh basil is worth drying. It just loses too much in translation.  Drying is the very last thing I'd think of doing with it. Freezing is the best approach in my opinion, with the full and fresh taste being well preserved through this method.  Here's how I've been doing it for about 20 years.  Here, chopped basil is coated in olive oil to prevent freezer burn and to make it easier to cut apart when partly frozen.

Fresh basil does not keep well in or out of the refrigerator -- it's best to process the leaves the very day they are picked.

1. Harvest the basil, and stem the leaves by pinching them off the stems between thumb and forefinger.

Basil_Bottom_USE.jpg2. Toss the leaves in the food processor or blender, about a cup at a time. Add 1-2 tablespoons of good olive oil for each fairly solid cup of fresh, unchopped leaves. Pulse the machine on and off until the leaves are fairly well covered with oil -- feel free to add additional 1-cup portions of leaves at this point until your machine doesn't seem to want to mix them well. Then process further until well chopped, but not made into a paste.

3. Spoon the mixture into small containers (1/4 to 1 cup total) with tight-fitting lids. DO NOT PACK DOWN THE LEAVES TIGHT. They should be somewhat loose, or it will be difficult to use just portions of your supply as needed -- you'll have to defrost the whole container and use it right away if they're packed tightly. Some folks like to pack and freeze the chopped basil in ice cube trays, popping out the solid cubes and putting them in a plastic bag or container for easier handling frozen. I just am never sure what to do with the fragrant, oily ice cube trays afterwards.

A container of freshly chopped basil can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 3 days; spoon out what you need as you cook.  Or freeze the container(s) (you're going to label them, right?), taking one out of the freezer to sit on the counter for 10 minutes or so to defrost sufficiently for you to cut off the portion you'll need for cooking. Or put in the microwave for 5-8 seconds on high, which should allow you to slice off what you need.

Keep in mind that fresh basil (fresh or frozen) really is best eaten uncooked or minimally cooked. It's bright flavors are best retained with the least amount of exposure to heat.

For pesto lovers, you can use the defrosted, chopped basil in your favorite pesto recipe; just  reduce the amount of olive oil called for in the recipe since there's some already in your frozen mix.


Farm Fresh in Concord and Carlisle

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Carlisle resident and independent television producer Marilyn Cugini is shooting a one-hour public access educational television show about local farms and agriculture in Concord and Carlisle, MA for broadcast on CCTV cable channel 8 this fall.  If you would like your farm/agricultural activity to be included in this show, please get in touch with Marilyn to make arrangements. 


You can contact her by email at, or by telephone at 978-369-5488.



Alzheimers Disease Expert Gives Free Talk

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coste2.jpgJoanne Koenig Coste, author of Learning to Speak Alzheimers, a nationally-recognized expert on the living with the disease, will speak at Newbury Court in Concord on Wednesday, August 10 in a presentation free and open to the public.

Coste has been an outspoken advocate for patient and family care for Alzheimers patients since 1973. She is the ground-breaking co-inventor of the compassionate, easy-to-learn and common sense approach to Alzheimer's care known as habilitation.   Using this method, patients and those who care for them devote themselves to making life as comfortable and pleasant as possible for both the patient and family.

She is constantly in demand for lectures and consultations nationwide. "We are so fortunate that she is coming here", said Jim Reynolds, CEO of Caring Companion Home Care headquartered in Concord, MA. "Many of our client families have a loved one suffering from dementia and we recommend her book over all others. I found the training I took based on her work to be the most valuable I have had about dealing with Alzheimer's sufferers."

costebook.jpgHabilitation has won praise from health care professionals. The founding director of the National Institute of Aging, Dr. Robert N. Butler, wrote the introduction to Coste's book, and she estimates that at least 100 nursing homes and assisted-living centers have adopted her methods.

"When I first began my work in dementia care over 20 years ago, the philosophy of care and approach centered on Reality Orientation," says Claire Henry, Dementia Specialist and principle of Caring Resources in Norwood, MA.  "The philosophy of Habilitation Therapy has done tremendous service for the dementia client, particularly in regard to their need to preserve 'personhood'. "

Coste is currently in private practice as an Alzheimer's family therapist. She also serves as President of Alzheimer Consulting Associates, implementing state-of-the-art Alzheimer care throughout the United States.

This lecture will be held at 4 pm in the North Community Room at Newbury Court, 80 Deaconess Road.  Reserve your seat by calling Deb Boyden at 978 402-8223.

Orchard House Special Open House, Sept. 17

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Recipients of grants from the National Trust for Historic Preservation "Partners in Preservation" will hold Open House Day on Saturday, September 17th, when they hope visitors will discover what a difference these grants have made. Participating sites will be open all day, hosting events that highlight the work they have achieved thanks to the Partners in Preservation grants and the energy and determination of their staff and volunteers.

Locally, a participant is Orchard House, Home of the Alcotts. See all the Boston area participants here.

Louisa May Alcott's Orchard HouseLouisa May Alcott's Orchard House
399 Lexington Rd, Concord, MA 01742

Open Saturday, September 17, 10:00 am - 4:30 pm
Admission: Adults $9.00; Seniors (62+) and college students (w/ID) $8.00; Youths (6-17) $5.00; Children under 6 and members free; Family Rate (2 adults and up to 4 youths) $25.00

"This Old House" Visited Barrett Farm

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The PBS series "This Old House" visited Barrett Farm on Old Barrett Mill Road, the 306-year-old structure being restored by Save Our Heritage. Film crews taped an episode showcasing the preservation efforts, due to air next season.

See a photo gallery of the filming here:
excesstoms7.257.11.jpgI took this photo today of the handful of cherry tomatoes ripe in the greenhouse.  Though until now I've just scarfed them up standing right there, I deemed these "excess" and brought them into the house. I think there are 7 of them. Adorable, aren't' they? Yummy, too.

Just for context, I want to harken back to last year. I cooked quarts and quarts of tomato sauce -- through August and September, I made some almost every day.  And probably in total most of a gallon of tomato jam.  And we ate tomatoes raw and cooked constantly.  I am just guessing that we had 350-400 lbs of tomatoes until (but not including) the ones we brought in when it was going to frost.

And in October when the hard frost was expected, we brought 200 lbs of green, ripening and almost ripe tomatoes. Here's just SOME of the immediate post-harvest results; there were hundreds more tomatoes than these, It was my all-fall chore to keep them sorted and coming to our waiting maws.

table10-10-10med.jpgundertable.jpgAbout 80% of these tomatoes ripened -- with about 10% of these and half of the not-fully-ripened ones that went funky going to the grateful chickens.  Here is what was left by December 10, the top ones being for humans, the next ones being for chickens.

dec10ripetomsmed.jpgdec10ripetomschickens.jpgJanuary 11, these were out very last from the fall harvest. Aren't they adorable?  Jut like today's seven little cherry tomatoes. And so the cycle begins again...



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