February is Heart Health Month! Love your fruits and veggies...

Did you know that in addition to Valentine’s Day, the month of February also includes National Heart Health Month?! Well, if this is new info for you, no worries...you can still share the love!  Here’s a little inspiration and education on why reducing sugar intake is important not only for a healthy body, but also a healthy heart.

 Not too long ago, (November 2014), the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) published a study that found people who consumed 17 to 21 % of their daily calories from added sugar had a 38% higher risk of dying from cardiovascular disease (CVD) compared to those who consumed 8% of calories from added sugar.  As well, those folks who consumed more than 21% of calories from added sugar had more than double the risk of dying from CVD.   Because of these findings, the American Heart Association revamped their guidelines and now recommends women have no more than 6 teaspoons of added sugar per day (equivalent to 100 calories) and men have no more than 9 teaspoons (equivalent to 150 calories) per day.

So, in honor of a healthier heart, I am sharing these top 5 tips for reducing added sugar every day. 

Limit and/or remove sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB). A 12- ounce can of soda has ~9 teaspoons of sugar, equivalent to 35 grams and 140 calories. Sugar-sweetened beverages include not only soda but also fruit juices, fancy coffee drinks, energy drinks, sports drinks, sugar-sweetened kefir, even organic juices. Simply eliminating sugary beverages from your diet can significantly reduce your daily added sugar consumption.  Other strategies to limit your intake that will help you rethink your drink: consider a smaller size beverage (6 to 8 ounces), add sparkling water to juices or reach for your water bottle and refill it during the day. 

Read the food label or Nutrition Facts Label. Use this information as a guide:  review the serving size (look for the number of servings a food or beverage might contain) and the nutrient data (total carbohydrates, sugars) when making your choices.  Read the ingredients list.  Note that even “sugar” has aliases —the most common are:  high fructose corn syrup, fruit juice concentrate, honey, syrup, sucrose, fructose and dextrose.   

Focus on fiber when you break your fast.  Breakfast is not the time for dessert—feed your belly, not your sweet tooth. Using the Nutrition Facts label, look for at least 5 grams of fiber per serving.   Oatmeal, hot quinoa, whole grain bread products, berries and pears are popular choices high fiber breakfast choices.  Complement these foods with protein and healthy fats to ensure satiety and more evenly control blood sugar.  

Control the condiments.  Condiments like marinades, BBQ sauce, ketchup, and salad dressing can sneak in extra sugar. Two tablespoons of ketchup has 7.4 grams (nearly two teaspoons!) of sugar—almost one-third the daily recommendation for women! Observe the type, the frequency and the amount of condiments you add and ask yourself “Is there a better alternative?”, “Am I adding ketchup out of taste or habit?”, “Can I use less?” Small changes add up and can contribute to an overall reduction in sugar. 

Satisfy your sweet tooth with naturally sweet foods. Replace your traditional sweet tooth favorites (candy, desserts, cakes, cookies, and pastries) with other sweet treats.  Choose naturally sweet foods like fruits, but some vegetables too—red, orange and yellow bell peppers, carrots and sugar snap peas.  Think about many of the produce offers from your weekly CSA share or visit to the Famer’s Markets.

Choose one or all as you find new ways to please your palate while promoting hearth health (not just in February, but all year long). 

Eat well to be well!


The Difference One Summer Can Make

Thanks to my summer spent working at Nourse Farm I'm a bit disappointed by the approach of Labor Day weekend.  This date signifies my transition from the comfort of a kitchen to the confinement of a microwave, as my only means to cook meals. Starting in September, I move back to school at Boston University for my sophomore year where I'm working towards a double major in Advertising and Psychology.  I'm beyond excited to move back to the city, to take new classes, and to reconnect with friends I haven't seen since the first week of May; but, the thought of relying on a dining hall meal plan and the snacks I keep in my dorm is totally unappealing.

My disappointment stems from the overall shift I have experienced about the way I view food. Working with such flavorful and fresh produce opened my eyes to become more cognizant of the food I was putting into my body. At this point, I no longer seek out or even crave most heavily processed foods. I wouldn't say I was overly unhealthy before, but now I am noticeably making conscious decisions to purchase, prepare and consume local, wholefoods.

If you asked my mom about this shift she would probably joke that I've become a bit of a food snob.  When it comes to the food we eat and where it comes from, I will admit to chastising her for buying peaches from the supermarket when I can easily buy some from the farm. Yet simultaneously, she would rave about my willingness to cook and do the weekly grocery shopping. Even on nights after a long shift of making salsa or scooping ice cream, I love the prospect of going home and experimenting with a new recipe featuring fresh produce from the farm.  

Even on vacation this summer, I kept this new outlook on my mind. While away in Quebec I purchased a souvenir "Made in Quebec: A Culinary Journey," a cookbook, which focuses on farm-to-table recipes revolving around the available seasonal produce.  Luckily, due to the regional similarities of Quebec and New England, the seasonal produce is similar.  Since my return to MA, I have already wowed my family with a number of recipes from the book.

I am interacting with fresh foods in a much greater way than I ever have before and working at the farm is what helped me broaden my perspective when it comes to food. I am grateful for that. One testament to this change is that before this summer I had never eaten a radish and now they are one of my favorite foods as I put them in salads or on top of avocado toast as it adds flavor and aesthetic appeal. Food can truly be beautiful in its taste, nutritional value, and its appearance.  

During my freshman year at Boston University, I wrote for the food section of a university run lifestyle magazine, and I even created my own food Instagram page to highlight all the great restaurants I dined at in the city-- when my college budget allowed for the extravagance of eating out. I have always loved connecting with food and now that means so much more to me. I've always considered myself a foodie, but now it is more true than ever as I have a greater appreciation and a gained perspective on where food comes from, how it is produced, and the many nutritional values different types of produce can provide.

A summer on the farm had a significant impact on me, and the prospect of not being able to continue with this part of my food journey is disappointing, but it has made me begin planning for next year and a dorm with a full kitchen.  Until then, I will enjoy my last few days of working (and connecting with fresh produce) at the farm!  

Here's hoping you continue to enjoy farm to table!  Amanda Portis

World Environment Day 2018: Beat Plastic Pollution!

With the official Earth Day celebrated earlier this year and World Environment Day today,  Nourse Farm reflects on its efforts in support of these international awareness raising campaigns.  The 2018 themes, End Plastic Pollution, and Beat Plastic Pollution, challenge us to protect and preserve our world with a specific focus on the environmental, climate and health consequences of using plastics. 

We wanted to take a moment and highlight a few of the ways in which Nourse Farm works to reduce plastic consumption.    

Glass jars and labels:  Many of you have probably noticed our message on the top label of our value-added products, like our top selling jams and jellies, “please reuse this jam jar”...and a lot of you have shared creative ways in which you reuse our jars—your own food preservation—be it canning or freezing; storage of leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch; a flower or herb vase; and even as a pencil/pen receptacle on your desk.  As well, there are any of you who return your jars so that we can reuse them in farm operations—thanks (BTW).     

Reusable Bags and Containers—we took your suggestions in 2016 and began selling reusable tote bags in the summer of 2017, offering two varieties: a woven tote bag and a canvas tote bag.  We even SOLD OUT of the canvas ones last year.  Given their popularity, we brought them back for purchase in 2018 and hope that you bring them back for shopping this coming season.  We also welcome and give an enthusiastic “tip of the cap” for the reuse or repurpose of our berry pint, quart and flat containers, as well as all of the ones we see folks bringing from home.  Start planning for PYO now and put your BYO (bring your own) container in the car. 

Paper Bags in the Farm Store:  we have made the switch from plastic (minus the leftovers from 2017) to paper bags in our Farm Store.  As well, you’ll likely hear our cashiers asking “would you like a bag” in reference to your purchases.  Just another example of Nourse Farm doing its part to ensure that we are environmental stewards. 

Nourse Farm would like to know how you want to beat plastic pollution, this World Environment Day (and any day, really).  Share your thoughts and ideas with us in the space below or with an email to catherine@noursefarm.com.    

Eat well to be well...(and reduce plastic consumption)!                                                              

How I Spent My Summer (Guest Blog, Isaac Grosner)

For most college students, summer is a great time to go back home, see friends, and earn some money with a job or internship. When faced with this last task, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. I had worked at a HomeGoods in high school, so I could definitely get my old job back there. But I had grown tired of working at there. I wanted something different. I first got the idea of working on a farm from my friend with whom I attend the University of Vermont. He had spent the past couple summers working on a farm, and spoke fondly of the work, despite its physical challenges. I decided that I would branch out a little and pursue this new line of work. I emailed a few farms in the area, and Catherine Nourse, from Nourse Farm, was the first to get back to me about an internship with their Community Supported Agriculture program, which I eagerly accepted.

My first day of work I went on a farm tour with Catherine. I quickly fell in love with the vast, rolling hills and scenic views. When I first hired, I was working as a CSA intern, meaning I would be helping run the weekly farm share pick-up. For those who don’t know, a CSA is a subscription in which an individual pays the farm a certain amount of money during the off season. Then, when the weather warms and crops are harvested, they receive a portion of the harvest as part of their upfront investment in the farm.

With all investments there is an inherent risk, and a CSA is no different. However, this year has brought an outstanding berry crop, giving our members a great return on their investment (vegetables and fruits). Our CSA works in a unique way, in which each member shops each week based off of a set number of points that they purchased in the fall or winter. This gives them more options than a traditional CSA, where a week’s harvest is pre-assembled. I especially enjoyed this aspect of it, as I would love to talk to our members about how to strategically squeeze every point they had into their bag, and what they could make with a cousa squash or Swiss chard. Talking with people about vegetables isn’t something I would be found doing before I started working at Nourse Farm, and yet I came to enjoy it very much. Along with the CSA, I also work the ice cream window and occasionally in the fields, picking the crops. It’s nice to be able to tell people that I picked this vegetable or berry this morning. You can see how surprised and excited they are about the freshness of it. There’s a great feeling of pride in seeing the produce that you helped pick now on the table for sell. Working in the field certainly isn’t easy, but it is very rewarding.

The last bit of work I do here is work the ice cream window. It’s always nice to work the window, because people are so happy to get their ice cream. It spreads around a good mood. When I’m not serving people ice cream, I’m helping our kitchen manager, Emily O’Neil, with anything she needs done. Whether that’s cleaning dishes, making pickles, slicing up some fruit, there’s always something new and interesting to do here at the farm.

What I’m going to take away the most from my time spent here this summer is a greater appreciation for our food and where it comes from. I remember early in the summer I weeded all the broccoli plants with Mike Barnes, the Foreman. Then last week I was out harvesting all the broccoli that I had weeded over a month ago. Seeing it come full circle and the work that he and I did paying off was something that you don’t get to see every day. It was the fruits of our labor, almost literally. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my summer here at Nourse Farm. Whether talking with our CSA members about our products, scooping ice cream, or picking blueberries in the field, each day is something new and exciting. I would highly encourage anyone who’s never been to the farm to check out the farm store, or just take a walk around. I think some of the magic that rubbed off on me will rub off on you as well. 

Nourse Farm Heritage Day--June 17th!

Nourse Farm to host Westborough 300th Farm Heritage Day!

Nourse Farm in Westborough will be hosting a Farm Heritage Day, coinciding with the strawberry season, on Saturday, June 17th from 10am to 4pm as one of the Town of Westborough 300th anniversary events. Since 1722, the Nourse family has been farming through eight generations, for 295 years, utilizing agricultural methods and technology that have marked the decades of farming in Massachusetts.

The purpose of the day is to “celebrate the Town’s farm heritage,” according to David Nourse, who has organized farm animal and equipment demonstrations that highlight traditional farming practices. The premier event will be an oxen-plowing demonstration, repeated throughout the day, with two teams of Brown Swiss and two teams of Lineback oxen. Participants will have an opportunity to view the oxen close-up and volunteers may try their hand at plowing a straight furrow.  

From plowing to ice-block cutting to logging to dairy farming to fruit and vegetable production, Nourse Farm represents an agricultural heritage that is part of Westborough’s past, present and future. Today’s local food movement has created a surge of interest in buying local, fresh fruit and vegetables, and the farm is proud to showcase its past and present to the general public at Farm Heritage Day. In addition, the farm will be setting up an equipment display (including tractors), a farm animal petting zoo, including the newest calf, Brady, born to one of the Nourse Farm Herefords in late April and raised on bottle-fed milk.

Hay rides, draft horse harnessing, strawberry-picking and self-guided farm tours will round out the day’s activities. The short walkabout will offer folks a chance to see fields of corn, the peach orchard, a raspberry field and other crops grown “behind-the-scenes” at the farm. 

In the greenhouse, where Nourse Farm grows all its vegetable plants from seed, one of the farm staff will be on hand to explain how plants are grown, and participants will have an opportunity to plant a seed or transplant an herb plant to take for their home gardens.

In the farm store, Jon, Marsha and Catherine Nourse, along with the staff, will be selling strawberry desserts, ice cream, fruit, vegetables and other local farm store products. The first strawberries of the season will be on the shelves that day, and as the weather permits, the pick-your-own fields may be opening that weekend. Some lunch items will be available, or bring along a family picnic.

The post-and-beam barn at Nourse Farm, historic in its own right, dates back to the Civil War period. The upper hay barn will be utilized for a continuously running, projected video program on Nourse Farm. Karen Nourse and her husband, Zachary, film artists in Manhattan, have produced short films at the farm for many years.

The Nourse family welcomes the entire community to visit the farm on its Heritage Day and savor the authenticity of the oldest farm in town, through its land, landscape, and farming commitment. Enjoy this free, fun, family day. For further information, contact Nourse Farm at 508-366-2644 and visit the website at www.noursefarm.com.

Food/Enviro Literacy: Every day is Earth Day!

With the official Earth Day celebrated today, April 22nd, Nourse Farm reflects on its perspective of the international day designated to celebrate our planet.  The 2017 theme, Environmental & Climate Literacy, challenges us all to foster a global citizenry who understand and act to protect and preserve our world. 

Using the “think globally, act locally” approach, Nourse Farm led local food system discussions and demonstrations at Armstrong Elementary School.  Catherine Nourse, Resident Dietitian, facilitated the preparation and tasting of a seasonal, plant-based recipe for ~50 students (grades K – 3).  It’s another way that we promote person and planet health (and a more food/enviro-literate community) within Westborough.   

Building on the Farm to School concept, we prepared SuperFood Smoothies, a seasonal spring recipeAs part of the learning, we highlighted the route our food takes before it arrives at the table.  We connected most of our main ingredients (spinach, blueberries, honey and water) from their point of origin at Nourse Farm and discussed how fruits and vegetable grow.  Next the students measured, mixed and sampled the fruits (and veggies) of their labor. 

The tasting received an overwhelmingly positive response...a 94% approval rating, with compliments like, “spinach actually tastes good”, “blueberries are the best”, and “can I have more”.   The hands-on learning reinforced the students’ abilities to prepare and not just eat (or drink) their food, whether it’s tearing spinach, measuring a teaspoon of honey or pressing the button on the blender.  Parent/family handouts were created and sent home to reinforce the food and nutrition aspects of the different ingredients. 

Thanks to the Extended Day Program at Armstrong Elementary for their hospitality, allowing for the opportunity to promote local, seasonal foods for our future food/enviro literate decision makers.

Eat well to be well...

March(ing) right along with National Ag Day, World Water Day and National Nutrition Month!

Can you feel it—Spring that is?  Maybe not yet...especially given the snowfall from Winter Storm Stella.  But while we wait for its full arrival on March 20, there’s cause for pause as we recognize some of March’s special milestones:  National Ag Day, World Water Day and National Nutrition Month.   

National Ag Day—March 21, 2017—Hosted by the Agriculture Council of America, this day is dedicated to raising the public’s awareness about the abundance agriculture provides our society.  The 2017 theme is Food for Life and with ~9 billion people to feed by 2050, certainly a relevant one.  Interesting agriculture facts from the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) include:  7,755 working farms statewide, 80% of these farms are family-owned and MA has a #6 national ranking for CSA participation.  For our part, Nourse Farm will be observing National Ag Day by getting back in the greenhouse, planting seeds, transplanting seedlings, and preparing the fields.    

World Water Day—March 22nd, 2017—an international day created by the United Nations as a way to learn more about the world’s most precious resource.  Interesting water facts from the United Nations (UN) include:  663 million people lack access to a safe water supply, new efforts to reduce and reuse wastewater are being piloted in agriculture across the globe, even for activities like cooling and irrigation.  At Nourse Farm, we work to ensure appropriate water utilization—our new pump increases irrigation efficiency and the 2016 perennial plantings on sloped fields more effectively contain run off, lessening erosion and water loss.   

National Nutrition Month—all of March—the annual campaign hosted by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics promotes the importance of informed food choices that contribute to healthy eating and physical activity habits.  This year’s theme is “Put Your Best Fork Forward” serves as a reminder that we all hold a tool to make healthier food choices.  Interesting nutrition resources include:  the USDA 10 Tips Series (free food and nutrition tips and tricks), the Dietary Guidelines for American guidance on estimated daily calorie needs, and the suggestions from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics for ways to participate in National Nutrition Month.  Nourse Farm is participating throughout Westborough at school and community events and has a new cookbook available for download.   

I hope that you enjoyed this food for thought as you March toward April.   

Other Ways to Show the Love in February: Heart Health and CSA Day!

Valentine’s Day is usually a top identifier for the month of February—chocolate, greeting cards, flowers—all symbols of how one can “show the love”, right?  Well, what if we broadened our scope for the year’s shortest month and considered other February happenings (Heart Health, CSA Day) that in their own way express similar sentiment.       

Heart Health Month:—In 1964 President Johnson first proclaimed that February would serve as the month for awareness raising about heart disease and its prevention.  Though the death rate from heart disease has declined, it still remains the leading cause of death for men and women in the US.  Efforts continue to focus on prevention, detection and treatment.  One focus of prevention is a heart healthy diet:  a variety of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat or nonfat dairy, skinless poultry, fish, nuts, legumes and non-tropical vegetable oils.  For our part, Nourse Farm will be planning its 2017 fruit and vegetable offerings.  We’re looking forward to getting in the greenhouse soon and “showing you the love” with delicious, nutrient dense foods this summer and fall. 

CSA Day:  Designed as a way to showcase community supported agriculture, CSA Day is based on the data analysis of Small Farm Central, a company who promotes the experience of farming through quality resources.  One of their resources, the 2015 CSA Farming Annual Report documented that the most popular day for CSA enrollment was the last Friday in February.  As a result, the first National CSA Day was created in 2015.  And in 2017, the CSA Day is Friday, February 24th.  For our part, Nourse Farm will join over 200 farms and 50,000 CSA members as we “show the love” for community supported agriculture.  Be sure to check our Facebook page for additional details regarding CSA Day 2017 later this month.  

Drop us a line and let Nourse Farm know how you “show the love”...eat well to be well... 

FV Rx: Nourse Farmacy!

Your Prescription...more Fruits and Vegetables!  CSAs = Enhanced Access...

Green leaves, red berries, orange pumpkins, yellow corn, brown cows...these living things create my office backdrop. As a RDN working on a farm, this view provides me with much food for thought. It also inspires nutrition education activities that showcase the link between food and nutrition, farm and fork.   

Let’s examine the food component since there is no nutrition until food is eaten. First, we must consider agriculture. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) 2012 Agricultural Census, Massachusetts has 7,755 farms that produce cranberries, fruit and vegetables, dairy, and livestock as top harvest items and ranks sixth in the nation for the number of farms participating in Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). These data demonstrate that edible agriculture is thriving in our state, offering healthful eating opportunities for our clients, patients and customers. 

So, how does this agriculture data affect dietary behaviors?  Not as significantly as dietitians might desire.  The Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) State Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity 2012 profile reports that only 36.8% of the almost five million adult residents consume two or more of the recommended servings of fruit daily and only 28.1% consume the recommended three or more servings of vegetables. The CDC State Indicator Report on Fruits and Vegetables 2013 suggests an important step to increasing fruit and vegetable consumption is enhanced access to quality and affordable produce. However, improved access and ultimately, increased consumption can only occur when leaders (e.g., health professionals, farmers, state policy makers) from the entire food system work together. 

CSAs are a great example of how RDNs can work to improve this access. As a registered dietitian who partners with a farmer for nutrition education, Nourse Farm emphasizes greater understanding of food and nutrition—from field to fork. We supplement our food choices regarding production, selection, preparation, and storage of fruits, vegetables, and herbs: recipe exchanges are facilitated; weekly harvest items showcased; food demonstrations conducted; and social media documents it all.  As a result, the overall understanding of the farm’s food system has deepened and translated into not only increased fruit and vegetable consumption, but pleasure and enjoyment too.  Here's to your health...eat well to be well!

Spiralizer: Something with a Twist!


Hey everyone! I’m Megan Antoniazzi, a Nutrition Educator Intern at Nourse Farm, where I have been assisting with new recipes, creating food focus sheets, and conducting food demonstrations (demos).  This blog post focuses on the demo part of my work completed the last Friday in July.  It highlights a new technique (spiralizing) that anyone can use for some of the harvested items (e.g., zucchini, potatoes, carrots, potatoes) you might select from Nourse Farm.   

My Experience

On Thursday nights at my house we have “Pasta Night.”  These nights are fun since I LOVE PASTA (like any Italian), but it can get repetitive.  So, I decided to mix things up, or maybe I should say, “twist” things up and introduced a new, yet familiar and delicious entrée reminiscent of pasta. The entrée I made for my family was spiralized zucchini with garlic and olive oil sauce, yum!  And it was a hit! 

The spiralizer I used was the hand-held Veggetti brand, an easily accessible kitchen tool.  It is low-tech and user-friendly! It comes with a small instruction booklet that features great recipes.  I selected the Garlic and Olive Oil sauce recipe. Additionally, it includes a cooking table with 3 different methods of cooking for squash, carrots, and potatoes, even cucumbers. 

Taken from the Veggetti Gourmet Recipe Guide and Instructions, the basics of how to use this spiralizer:

1.      Clean and dry vegetables before using them with the spiralizer.

2.      Hold the spiralizer strictly on the metal handles to prevent injury.

3.      Insert the vegetable into either the thick cut side or the thin cut side.

4.      Twist the vegetable clockwise over a bowl, container, or cutting board until it reaches the end part of the vegetable.

I highly recommend this tool. It can assist you to new entrees or spice up some old ones, like salads, side dishes, pasta, and more! This is also a great option for those who have Celiac Disease or any level of gluten-intolerance. Try it yourself and enjoy a new twist! --Megan



Fruits and Vegetables Galore—Helping Kids (and Their Parents) Eat More!

June is the month to celebrate the fruits and vegetables...from asparagus to zucchini and every (green, red, white, pink or black) bean in between. 

Nourse Farm is certainly pleased to mark National Fruit and Vegetable Month with you.  Earlier this month, we began participation in the Westborough Farmer’s Market and three weeks ago we launched the 2016 CSA (Community Supported Agriculture).  Needless to say, we certainly enjoy providing Westborough and its environs fresh, local fruit and veggie offerings. 

We believe that it is our responsibility to support you to incorporate more fresh fruits and vegetables on your plate or in your bowl every day.   As an integral part of our Nourse Farm website, we showcase the Food Matters page, a central location for information about our different harvest products.  We feature a particular “focus food”, its complimentary recipe and suggest other resources to provide you “food for thought”.  We welcome you to submit recipes, ideas, tips and tricks that help us all enjoy the Nourse Farm harvest even more.  Be sure to ask about our new Kids' Activity sheet that focuses on creating a healthy plate. 

For additional ideas about ways to incorporate fruits and vegetables every day, visit Fruits and Veggies, More Matters or the United States Department of Agriculture.  Nourse Farm would like to know how you celebrate fruits and vegetables this month (or any month).  Share your thoughts and ideas with us in the space below or with an email to catherine@noursefarm.com.  Follow us and let us know your favorite F and Vs on Facebook or Instagram. 

Eat well to be well...Catherine

Students Experience Life on the Farm

Read our guest bloggers perspectives about their experiences at Nourse Farm.  

Hello! We are Hayley and Michelle, two dietetic interns from Framingham State University assigned to Nourse Farm as part of our 1,200-hour internship to become Registered Dietitians. We have spent approximately two months here in order to better understand the connections between farm, food, and nutrition.  Here are some of the experiences we wanted to personally share with you:

 “Nourse Farm is a new internship placement site for Framingham State University. It is also a unique site since the university has never assigned dietetic interns to conduct nutrition outreach activities on a working farm.  Nourse Farm seeks to link individuals and families with their food.  Farm store patrons can participate in a variety of food-related activities (pick-your-own, community supported agriculture, product tastings), all of which highlight various aspects of the farm to plate movement. As a dietetic intern placed here, I stepped out of my comfort zone, having not always fully connected food production with nutrition.  From my experience working at Nourse Farm, I now understand how much work a farmer puts into the production of our food. I actually planted seeds, stalks and plants on a weekly basis and finished exhausted, thirsty, and covered in dirt.  This physical labor enhanced my overall appreciation of the effort it takes to produce food.  An everyday farmer does this kind of work in his/her high season for greater than eight hours a day, sometimes even seven days a week.  My experience at Nourse Farm has helped me understand how much work goes into the food production that ultimately gives us the nutrition to help us live and be healthy. This knowledge and appreciation is something I can take into my professional career as a Registered Dietitian as I will help people understand the flow of how our food is planted in the ground and served on our plates.”

-       Hayley Ruff

“As a temporary representative of Nourse Farm, I was able to see how interested people are to learn about where their food comes from. There are some big social questions being raised in our culture right now: is mass production of food a good thing? Is it as flavorful as what is grown on smaller, local farms? Can processed, prepackaged food meet our nutrition needs the way whole foods can? When I buy food that is mass-produced, where does my money go? Why are there large-scale foodborne illness outbreaks that make the news, like spinach being recalled for E. coli contamination?

I’m not sure we have all the answers yet, as a culture. What I do know is that as a nutrition professional I will be guiding people in answering these types of questions for themselves. For that reason, the opportunity to learn and experience first-hand how food is grown has been invaluable to me. Farms have so much to teach us, as many of us are well-removed from how to plant, grow, harvest, preserve, and even cook food. There are many systems in place to keep us separated from those processes. What we lose in that separation is true connection to what food really is: life force, vitality, longevity, and survival. Being part of this labor of love, from pushing a seed into the dirt to shaking your farmer’s hand and thanking him, gives cause for celebration of something so basic and necessary as food.

So get out there this summer: come to Nourse Farm to pick your own berries, learn about community-supported agriculture (CSA) shares, or taste a farm-made salsa. Experience an afternoon at a farm that is working hard for you!”

-       Michelle Ritter  



Nurturing and Nourishing: Every day is Earth Day!

While Earth Day is officially celebrated on April 22nd, at Nourse Farm we like to consider every day as Earth Day.  This year, we have been celebrating Earth Day and in particular its 2016 theme, Trees for the Earth, in some new ways...two ways, to be exact: Michelle Ritter and Hayley Ruff.  They are dietetic interns from Framingham State University, Food and Nutrition program and actively participated in the spring preparatory activities on and around Nourse Farm.  It’s another way that we nourish the community, extending our reach to nurture planet and person health. 

In order to become a registered dietitian/nutritionist, all interns complete a community-based rotation as a key part of their experiential learning (1200 hours of supervised practice).  This segment of the internship provides the opportunity for future dietitians to link elements of their medical nutrition therapy and food service rotations with the larger food system through public health and nutrition education interventions.  Nourse Farm was excited to be selected as a new site, hosting Michelle and Hayley for seven weeks this spring.  I served as their key preceptor and designed the rotation to include exposure to various levels of our food system from production to consumption. 

While you may not have the chance to meet them, you may have seen them in the Sunday edition of the MetroWest Daily News (they are pictured in the greenhouse).  And speaking of greenhouses, under Jon Nourse’s expert guidance, Michelle and Hayley seeded and transplanted vegetables and herbs on a weekly basis.  As well, they attended a regional agritourism workshop in North Andover with me.  They created a food demonstration video, highlighting a new Nourse Farm product, the Endless Summer Heirloom Tomato Tart (available this summer).  Lastly, they assisted with the design of nutrition education materials that include new food focus sheets for our CSA and Farm Store clientele, recipe analyses, and a 4-week nutrition education curriculum for adolescent girls.

Thanks to Michelle and Hayley for their work with us this spring...we look forward to their future contributions to the health of our planet, rooted and nourished in part by their time at Nourse Farm. 

Eat well to be well...

Spring Forward!

Spring Forward with National Ag Day, World Water Day and National Nutrition Month!

Can you feel it?  With warmer temperatures this week, the killdeer chirping, five calves running around the farm, and green leaves in contrast to brown soil, it certainly seems as though spring has arrived at Nourse Farm.  While we wait for its full arrival, there’s cause for pause to celebrate many of March’s special milestones:  National Ag Day, World Water Day and National Nutrition Month.   

National Ag Day—March 15, 2016—Hosted by the Agriculture Council of America, this day is dedicated to raising the public’s awareness about the essential role that agriculture (food and fiber) plays in our communities...did you know that one American farmer feeds ~155 people worldwide?  Or that Massachusetts was one of the few states to have seen a rise in growth of farms and farmland?  Or that First PEAS to the Table is the 2016 America Farm Bureau Book of the Year?  For our part, Nourse Farm will be celebrating by getting back in the greenhouse, planting seeds and transplanting seedlings. 

World Water Day—March 22nd, 2016—an international day created by the United Nations as a way to learn more about the world’s most precious resource.  This year’s theme is “water and jobs” with a focus on the power of water and jobs to transform lives...did you know that ~half of the 1.5 billion workers are employed in the water-related sector (worldwide)?  Or that the Quabbin/Wachusett water system demands in 2015 were 206.57 million gallons/day?  At Nourse Farm, we appreciate our good fortune on World Water Day as we are blessed with natural springs which are utilized during dry periods.  This year we’re investing in increased irrigation capacity to ensure that new plantings will be nourished throughout this and future summers.   

National Nutrition Month—March 2016—the annual campaign hosted by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics to promote the importance of making informed food choices to develop and sustain healthy eating and physical activity habits.  This year’s theme is “Savor the Flavor of Eating Right” and encourages individuals and families to enjoy food and its healthful pleasures.  Did you know that the USDA released new Dietary Guidelines this year?  Or that MyPlate offers free resources about food and nutrition?  We're contributing to the campaign at Nourse Farm by growing some of the most powerful superfoods (blueberries, spinach, pumpkins, red bell peppers) and providing recipes throughout the harvest so customers can use them most effectively.  

Eat well to be well...

CSA Sign-Up Day 2016: Buy a Share, Help Us Grow!

CSA Sign-Up Day 2016:  Buy a Share, Help Us Grow!

What is CSA Sign-Up Day, you ask?  Great question...CSA Sign-Up Day is part of the larger CSA Day, celebrated this year on the 26th of February.  Designed as a way to showcase community supported agriculture, CSA Day is based on the data analysis of Small Farm Central, a company who promotes the experience of farming through quality resources.  One of their resources, the 2014 CSA Farming Annual Report documented that the most popular day for CSA Sign-Ups was Friday, February 28th.  As a result, the first National CSA Sign-Up Day was created in 2015.  And in 2016, the national “sign-up day” is this Friday (only 2 days away).   

Nourse Farm is excited to join over 200 farms and 50,000 CSA members as part of CSA Sign-Up Day 2016 and is pleased to offer its own promotion:  a free week of CSA produce...that’s right, complete your membership application this weekend (Friday, February 26th through Sunday, February 28th) and receive a discount worth $30 off our Family Share, $22.50 off our Two-Person Share, and $15 off our Individual Share.  So, Buy a Share and Help Us Grow and know that Nourse Farm looks forward to serving you yummy fruits and veggies all summer long!  

Eat well to be well...

Enthusiasm, curiosity, and super snack choices = a recipe for success in 2016!

During the first week of January, I had the opportunity to share with students at Armstrong Elementary School (AES) select food and nutrition topics.  As part of AES’ healthful start to 2016, we focused on MyPlate food groups and portions, as well as ways to incorporate real food into snack time.  With a cup of enthusiasm, a pinch of curiosity and some super snack choices (carrots, sunflower seeds, popcorn, raisins, and lentil sticks) almost 400 students evaluated snack choices (super versus silly), selected those that were “super” and shared their learning with family members at home. 

As a special guest teacher, working with the Physical Education team led by Ali Rheaume, I was assigned a two-part task: build on students’ learning regarding the MyPlate food groups, but emphasize healthful snacks and snacking (keeping it all allergy friendly).  Needless to say, I enjoyed this assignment immensely as it allowed me to utilize my nutrition knowledge and facilitation skills while being able to work with an enthusiastic student population. 

I designed the classes to showcase “real food choices” so that the students (and their families) can incorporate these options into snack time.  Each class evaluated different snack choices using a “water test” to determine if a snack would be a super snack choice (appropriate) or a silly snack choice (inappropriate).  The water test assesses a food item’s ability to look the same (or mostly the similar) after having been placed under running water (or in the case of our classes, in a glass container with 6 ounces of water).  If the food item does in fact look the same after having been in water it’s a super snack choice (e.g. carrot sticks).  If the food item looks remarkably different after having been in water, it’s a silly snack choice (e.g., mini powered donut).  The students then used the knowledge gained from the assessment to create their own super snack packs for take home. 

The classes were created as interactive (but quick) ways for students (and their families) to work together to choose super snack foods.  We also highlighted that snacks should be real food, smaller than a meal, and fit easily in the palms of one’s hands. Students (some teachers and even the school principal) actively participated in the assessment and the preparation of our super snack packs.  Thanks Armstrong Elementary School for a fantastic week!   Eat well to be well...Catherine

Nourse Farm Celebrates Food Day 2015

Nourse Farm had a recent opportunity to participate in Food Day.  What’s that...you aren’t familiar with Food Day?!  Read on...

Food Day is a an initiative created by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) as a way to inspire individuals and communities throughout the United States to change our diets and our food policies by addressing food-related issues at our local, state and national levels.  Each year on October 24th, various Food Day events are organized that offer ways in which we can all celebrate real food and advocate for enhanced food policies.  

Nourse Farm was invited to participate in the Central Massachusetts Dietetic Association Food Day event, A Healthy Food System for Healthy Families on a Healthy Planet held on October 14th.  As the Resident Dietitian at Nourse Farm, I presented information about our Community Supported Agriculture program.  I gladly showcased the real food that we grow for not only our CSA members, but Farm Store customers and Pick-Your-Own enthusiasts.  My presentation highlighted the ways in which Nourse Farm seeks to connect folks with good food and celebrated the important role that farms can (and should) play. 

I was also able to share some of my observations of and interactions with our clientele...the ways that you shop together, plan your meals, choose your own produce, try new harvest items, ask food preparation questions, offer suggestions and most of all share your love of quality, local foods.  Though I did present this information on your behalf, I know that we participate in the food system together. 

What's on your plate?  Let's celebrate Food Day every day.  Eat well to be well...


Connect with good food!

It’s been a pleasure to chat with you, share ideas, swap recipes these last few weeks.  I am continually amazed by the spirit of a gastronomic adventure that abounds during discussions with our CSA shareholders, as well as our PYO and Farm Store customers. 

When we featured kohlrabi (a Nourse Farm first in 2015), it was met with curiosity, wonder and an occasional quizzical look, but mostly, I heard “we’re here to try something new”, “that’s why I joined the CSA”, “new harvest products are what we love about Nourse Farm”.  These statements are refreshing, inspiring and why I love coming to work each day.   

Let’s keep chatting...and remember to submit your favorite recipe that features a Nourse Farm product for our 2nd cookbook. Email me at Catherine@noursefarm.com.  For examples of our 2014 recipes, please check out our Food Matters page, a central location for information about different harvest products.  Click on the word cookbook and download your free copy.   

Eat well to be well...


Celebrate National Fruit and Vegetable Month!

June is the month to celebrate fruits and vegetables...from asparagus to zucchini and every bean in between. 

Nourse Farm is certainly pleased to mark National Fruit and Vegetable Month with you.  Two weeks ago we began participation in the Westborough Farmer’s Market and one week ago we launched the 2015 CSA (Community Supported Agriculture.  Needless to say, we certainly enjoy providing Westborough and its environs fresh, local fruit and veggie offerings. 

A few weeks ago the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) suggested a range of actions or activities (from growing your own food to choosing food with less packaging to encouraging policy makers to support sustainable agriculture) in support of World Environment Day.  We connected with the proposal to “consume food more responsibly”.  As participants in a short food chain, Nourse Farm wants to encourage its customers to make conscientious food choices. 

We believe that it is our responsibility to support you to incorporate more fresh fruits and vegetables every day.   As an integral part of our Nourse Farm website, we created the Food Matters page, a central location for information about different harvest products.  We feature a particular “focus food”, its complimentary recipe and suggest other resources to provide you “food for thought”. 

For additional ideas about ways to incorporate fruits and vegetables every day, visit Fruits and Veggies, More Matters or the United States Department of Agriculture.  Nourse Farm would like to know how you celebrate fruits and vegetables this month (or any month).  Share your thoughts and ideas with us in the space below or with an email to catherine@noursefarm.com

Eat well to be well...                                                               

7 Billion Dreams, 1 Planet, Consume with Care...Of Course We Can!

Friday, June 5th marks World Environment Day (WED), a day that showcases positive action and advocacy for the health of our planet.  The 2015 theme, mentioned above, highlights the fact that although we have one planet (with finite resources), we also have infinite ways in which we can promote sustained individual and environmental health.   

The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) suggests a range of actions or activities (from growing your own food to choosing food with less packaging to encouraging policy makers to support sustainable agriculture) on its website.  While these suggestions are important, it is the proposal to “consume food more responsibly” that struck a chord with us. 

Why you might ask?  Well, it’s the Nourse Farm Community Supported Agriculture members, Farm Store clientele and Pick-Your-Own participants who come to mind.  With your concerted choice to support our farm and its operations, we all benefit.  You participate in a short food chain...your food travels fewer miles to reach your plate, is therefore more nutritious and flavorful; less greenhouse gases are emitted in its distribution; and overall, our collective carbon footprint is significantly reduced. 

When we make conscientious food choices, we have the potential to make a big impact on our lives and livelihoods.  U.N. Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon summarizes this idea well:  “Although individual decisions may seem small in the face of global trends, when billions of people join forces in a common purpose, we can make a tremendous difference”.  Nourse Farm would like to know how you consume with care this World Environment Day (and every day).  Share your thoughts and ideas with us (and others) in the space below or with an email to catherine@noursefarm.com  

Eat well to be well...