Recently in Natural Concord Category

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.

Surely the Cheeziest Thoreau Video Ever

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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.



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...



Hot Weather Advisory, Cooling Shelter Opening

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By Mark R. Cotreau, Fire Chief/Emergency Management Director, Town of Concord Fire Department

19080236.thb.jpgAs you are most likely aware, we are in for a few days of extremely hot weather conditions. Please see the below advisory issued by MEMA.  Additionally residents can access a cooling shelter as noted below:
In response to the extreme temperatures forecast for the next few days, the Harvey Wheeler Community Center will be open as a cooling center Thursday and Friday, 12 noon until 9pm. There are no age restrictions. Please feel free to stop by if you would like to escape the extreme temperatures forecast. If transportation is an issue, during business hours please call 978-318-3020 (the COA Office), or after hours please call 978-318-3400 (Public Safety Dispatch).
Please remember that the Concord Public Library -  Main Library and Fowler Branch - are also air conditioned and welcome the public. The Main Library and Fowler Branch summer hours vary somewhat, and are posted on the Library web site at 
Remember last winter when we all wished for warmer weather? 

With the extremely hot weather the Commonwealth is experiencing, the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) is advising people to be cautious and is offering some tips to help keep cool and safe.
"A few common sense measures can reduce heat-related problems, especially for the elderly, the very young and people with respiratory ailments, who are more susceptible to the effects of high temperatures," said MEMA Director Kurt Schwartz. "Here are some tips to follow to stay safe during this hot, humid weather."
·    Slow down, avoid strenuous activity.  Do not try to do too much on a hot day.
·    Wear lightweight, loose-fitting, light-colored clothing.  Light colors will reflect heat and sunlight and help maintain normal body temperature. Protect your face with a wide-brimmed hat.
·    Drink plenty of water regularly and often, even if you do not feel thirsty. Attempt to stay hydrated.
·    Limit intake of alcoholic beverages.  They can actually dehydrate your body.
·    Eat well-balanced, light, regular meals.  Avoid high protein foods that increase metabolic heat.
·    Stay indoors as much as possible.
·    If you do not have air conditioning, stay on your lowest floor, out of the sun.  Electric fans do not cool the air, but they do help evaporate perspiration, which cools your body.
·    Go to a place where you can get relief from the heat, such as air conditioned schools, libraries, theaters and other community facilities that may offer refuge during the warmest times of the day.
·    Check with your community for information about possible local 'cooling centers'. You may also want to call 2-1-1 for 'cooling center' information or go to <>
·    Cover windows that receive morning or afternoon sun with drapes, shades, awnings or louvers.  Outdoor awnings or louvers can reduce the heat that enters a home by up to 80%.
·    Avoid too much sunshine.  Sunburn slows the skin's ability to cool itself.  If you are outside, use sunscreen lotion with a high SPF (Sun Protection Factor) rating.
·    Never leave children or pets alone in a closed vehicle.
·    Check on family, friends and neighbors.
In normal weather, the body's internal thermostat produces perspiration that evaporates and cools the body.  However, in extreme heat and high humidity, evaporation is slowed and the body must work extra hard to maintain normal temperature, which may lead to heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.  If you believe you, or anyone you are with, is experiencing a heat-related medical emergency, promptly call 911, and if possible, move to a cooler place.
The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) is the state agency responsible for coordinating federal, state, local, voluntary and private resources during emergencies and disasters in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.  MEMA provides leadership to: develop plans for effective response to all hazards, disasters or threats; train emergency personnel to protect the public; provide information to the citizenry; and assist individuals, families, businesses and communities to mitigate against, prepare for, and respond to and recover from emergencies, both natural and man made. For additional information about MEMA and Preparedness, go to Follow MEMA updates on Facebook and Twitter.

No Surprise: Possible Peak Demand Hour Thurs, Fri

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By Carole Hilton, Concord Municipal Light Plant

81748894.thb.jpgThis is the third call of the 2011 summer season for a peak demand hour. Based on the hot humid weather this week and ISO New England (Independent System Operator) forecasts for electricity demand, we expect a peak demand on Thursday, 7/21 and Friday, 7/22 between 2PM - 5PM. The peak demand is likely to be on Friday, but it's hard to be certain since the weather forecast is similar for both days.

Please reduce, reschedule, or curtail your use of electricity between 2PM - 5PM on Thursday and Friday. Your help does make a difference in reducing electricity costs to all Concord Light customers.

You might consider turning up your AC thermostat a few degrees and shutting off your computers and printers. Or, you could curtail use of things such as pool pumps, dryers, and washing machines. Another way to save is to reschedule use of these appliances to either before or after the anticipated peak hours. You could add a little fun into the peak demand energy conservation by planning a picnic dinner, or cooking on the grill.

Thank you for participating in our effort to reduce Concord's summer electrical peak.

Peak Demand Hour Possible Tues, July 12

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By Carol Hilton, Concord Municipal Light Plant

24693299.thb.jpgThis is the second call of the 2011 season for a peak demand hour. Based on weather and ISO (Independent System Operator) New England forecasts for electricity demand, we may experience a peak demand tomorrow, Tuesday, 7/12, from 4PM - 5PM.

If you are able to reduce, reschedule, or curtail your use of electricity between 2PM - 5PM tomorrow, you would help to reduce electricity costs to all Concord Light customers.

You might consider turning up your AC thermostat a few degrees, curtailing use of things such as pool pumps, dryers, and washing machines. Another way to save is to reschedule use of these appliances to either before or after the anticipated peak hours. You could add a little fun into the peak demand energy conservation by planning a picnic dinner, or cooking on the grill.

Please share this information with family and friends in Concord who may also want to help. They can join the Google Group by simply sending an email with the Subject and Body blank to: Cmlp-cap Google Groups will reply requesting verification of your request. This is a one-way email system so members can only receive emails from this list.

Thank you again for participating in our effort to reduce Concord's summer electrical peak.

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