10 Days Until Harvest Home!

5KHarvest Home Fall Festival and 5K will be taking place on Sunday November 3rd from 10:30am to 3pm at 37 Wheeler Road, North Grafton MA. Starting at 10:15am, there will be a kids fun run and 5K trail run. Athletes will run through beautiful trails on and around the farm before enjoying free admission to the festival. Festival tickets will be sold the day of for $10 per adult with a $30 family cap. Kids under 5 are free. Tickets can be purchased ahead of time here. Online registration for the 5K Trail Run will close on Thursday October 31st. There will be day of registration for $35. Register online here.

 We will be selling apples from our orchard in Harvard, merchandise and baked goods. There will be great food including butternut squash soup, chili, hotdogs, pulled pork and apple crisp. You can warm up by the fire with some hot apple cider and hot chocolate. Wachusett Brewery’s Wally Airstream will be joining the festival and will be serving craft beers and wine to attendees over 21. 

craftsThere will be hay wagon rides around the farm, petting zoos featuring rabbits, chickens, alpacas, goats, cattle, donkeys and baby potbelly pigs, a ton of kids crafts and face painting and an antique tractor for the perfect photo op. DJ Jam Events will be providing music for the 5K and the beginning of the day before Big Jon Short performs.

Water’s Corporation will be participating in a pumpkin trebuchet competition, launching pumpkins through the air all day. Guests are invited to shoot apples out of apple cannons.

 There will also be a scarecrow contest determined by popular vote, lawn games and a raffle, made possible by generous donations from local businesses across central Massachusetts. All proceeds from this event will go towards our mission of hunger relief. 

Generously Sponsored By: 

Harvard Pilgrim HealthCare Foundation – Unibank

Wegmans – Homefield Credit Union

 

Waters Corporation – Lampin Corporation – Halstead Insurance

Savers Bank – Window Logic – Mancuso Insurance

Reliant Medical Group – J.J. Bafaro Inc. – Scheier, Katin & Epstein PC

Pyne Sand & Stone Co Inc. – Koopman Lumber – Atchue Opticians

J.F. Cove Insurance Agency Inc. – Clifford Rano & Associates

Gaudette Insurance – Cornerstone Bank – LaBounty Family – Collette Motors

Leominster Credit Union – H&M Bay Inc. – Millbury Savings Bank

 

Read the rest of the October Sprout here!

End of Season Orchard Update

From our Orchard Manager, Susan:

In just a few weeks we will be ending the harvest activities for the 2019 season at the orchard (phew!).  It is a great feeling to see almost all of the fruit off the trees and the last boxes of apples from the cooler being shipped out to our partners.  While apple harvest is my favorite time of year, I do look forward to the quieter days of November and December and the tasks of putting the farm to bed for the winter months.

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Before the temperatures really drop, there are some projects we will be working on to prepare for the winter and also get a jump start on the next growing season.  The apple trees will receive their fall application of fertilizer which will get them off to a good start in the coming Spring.  Mouse guards, which protect the tree trunks from winter mouse damage, will be installed on all of the young trees whose thin bark is most susceptible to girdling. Additionally, the property will get a final mowing, which also deters rodents from entering the orchard as they become exposed to predators without the tall grass to hide in.

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As always, I would like to thank the volunteers that have helped and continue to help us at the orchard this year.  Whether you came to volunteer once or weekly, your hard work was much appreciated.  This year marked our first peach harvest from trees planted in 2017 with the help of volunteers.  We picked 20,000 pounds of apples from our two acre high-density trees, also planted with volunteers in 2016.  Every growing season has challenges but I am always uplifted when I see the people of the community working together to help grow healthy food for others in need.  Thank you!

Read the rest of the October Sprout here!

Help us reach ONE MILLION MORE pounds

Kevin's LetterGenerous volunteers and contributors have made it possible for us to donate more than one million pounds of fresh produce to local hunger relief over the last five years. Fresh, nutritious fruits and vegetables were made available annually to 60,000 of our neighbors who don’t have enough nutrient-rich food to put on the table.

Food insecurity is a widespread but often invisible issue in our state. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) defines food insecurity as a lack of consistent access to enough food for an active, healthy life. For over 1 in 9 people, purchasing food becomes an uncertain choice. When limited funds are necessary for expenses such as rent, heat, transportation, and medication, the quality of the food that is available declines. There is an alarming cycle of food insecurity and chronic disease that begins when an individual or family cannot afford enough nutritious food.

This letter we received from a student volunteer named Kevin highlights just how critical fresh produce donations are:

Thank you for taking on this amazing role in the community that other people wouldn’t take on. It’s difficult to be so helpful, so I’m grateful that you guys are taking on such a hard but extremely helpful task. Seriously, believe me, I appreciate you guys so much because for two years of my life my parents had to rely on food pantries to give me, my brother, and themselves proper nutrition. Without that, I wouldn’t be as healthy as I am today. What you guys do is save people, so I, and many others, want you to be recognized.”

Volunteers and contributors funded the vital supplies and tasks needed to get vegetables from our fields into the hands of those who need them, like Kevin. 

Because hunger in our community is not going away, we’re embarking on a campaign to donate ONE MILLION MORE pounds by 2025. If you donate today, $25 will provide 75 servings of green beans, $50 will provide 150 servings of leafy greens, and $100 will provide 300 servings of cabbage.

Please consider making a year-end gift to Community Harvest Project so we can donate ONE MILLION MORE pounds to those experiencing hunger. Together, we can ensure our neighbors have the nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables they need to thrive.

Thank you for your support!

Read the rest of the October Sprout here!

Volunteer of the Month: Team Leaders

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Team Leaders and Staff at our orchard in Harvard

As we finish out the farming season here at CHP it is always a great time to reflect on our successes over the past months. As always the first thing that comes to mind is the power of our programming thanks to the dedicated team of Volunteer Team Leaders that support our work. Without this great group of welcoming, engaging and committed volunteers the work of our farms would not be possible. We are incredibly lucky to have this group on our side and on the front lines representing us as the face of the organization on a daily basis. If you visited our farms this season you are likely to have a story of your own about how inspiring our Volunteer Team Leaders are.  

We regularly hear great comments from our volunteers about their visits and are always impressed when someone leaves our farms and remembers a name. Comments like “Bruce was an awesome team leader. He was knowledgeable and friendly. Thank you for having us. We will be sure to come back again!” let us know just how valuable these connections are. Every day we are lucky enough to be surrounded by this great group as a supporting cast. There are so many ways to describe all that they inject into our work and how much they give of themselves to make our programming run smoothly day in and day out. 

With that we could not miss the opportunity to applaud our Volunteer Team Leaders as our Volunteers of the Month for October. We would like to thank them for all that they are and all that they do to make it look seamless to the thousands of volunteers that support us over a season. We would like to offer a sincere thanks and acknowledgement of their role at Community Harvest Project. We can’t thank them enough and are humbled by their presence on a daily basis. Thanks to an amazing group of Volunteer Team Leaders, we can’t do this great work without your support!

Read the rest of the October Sprout here!

What’s Cooking: Quinoa Salad

whats cooking oct

For September’s cooking classes we learned all about whole grains! Whole grains are grains that are less processed than refined grains, leaving the bran and germ intact (refined grains are just the endosperm of the seed). This makes have a higher fiber content which means they take longer to digest and therefore make you feel full longer, and more vitamins and minerals than their refined counterparts.

For the cooking class we made a summery version of this quinoa salad with peaches, cherry tomatoes, and corn. Now that we’re well into fall we adapted it with apples and roasted squash.

There are just a few more cooking classes for the year left! Click the class titles below to see the full class descriptions and sign your child up.

Broccoli Head Chefs (9-12 year olds)

Celery Sous Chefs (5-8 year olds)

Quinoa Salad with Apple and Squash

Adapted from https://www.twopeasandtheirpod.com/summer-farro-salad/ 

INGREDIENTS:

FOR THE SALAD:

  • 2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 5 kale leaves, torn into small pieces
  • 1 large apple, pitted and chopped
  • 2 cups roasted squash or sweet potato
  • A large handful basil, torn into pieces

FOR THE DRESSING:

  • ⅓ cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a jar combine olive oil, vinegar, a pinch of salt, and a few grinds of pepper. Shake to combine.
  2. In a large bowl combine the quinoa, kale, roasted squash/sweet potato, and basil. Add the dressing and toss to combine. 
  3. Enjoy!

Read the rest of the October Sprout here!

Give CHP Your Ongoing Support

collardsAs the busiest part of our harvesting season begins to wind down, it is important to remember that hunger and the needs of those experiencing it go on year round. While we prepare for slower days on the farm, we also plan and prepare to combat hunger in our communities throughout the months we are not harvesting. Our Monthly Givers and their consistent donations help us in this preparation with donations we can count on. 

For just a few dollars a month, you can join this wonderful club and support hunger relief year round. Monthly Givers receive a convenient yearly acknowledgement for tax purposes, along with special recognition in our Annual Report and invitations to exclusive events. Monthly Givers also receive two free tickets to our Harvest Home Festival! Become a Monthly Giver by October 15th to receive your tickets. Learn more and join our growing Monthly Giving Program here

Read the rest of the September Sprout.

Susan’s Apple Picks

Our Orchard Manager, Susan, has a wealth of knowledge and opinions about apples. We asked her to share some of her favorite varieties and what they are best for:

During this time of year, the orchard is buzzing with activity as we get the apple harvest in. Over the next three months, with the help of hundreds of volunteers, we will pick over 3,000 apple trees with the majority of the apples going towards hunger relief.

One of the most frequent questions I get asked by the volunteers at the orchard is what my favorite kind of apple is. That’s sort of like asking me which child of mine is my favorite!  The answer I give is, I don’t have a favorite, but rather, I have several that I love equally for different reasons.

ft021-web.jpgThe Best Baking Apple: In my opinion, using a mix of different apples is best when baking. Each apple lends its own flavor and texture to your pie or crisp and the results are delicious. But if you did have to choose just one apple for your Thanksgiving pie, choose Cortland. This apple variety is widely known as the best baking apple for good reason. It cooks to a perfect texture, not too mushy, like its parent the McIntosh and not too crunchy. It has the tartness you want with a baking apple but a hint of sweetness, as well. Fun fact: Cortland apples have beautiful white flesh and are slow to brown so use them on your cheese and fruit platter or in salads too!

20190917_154018.jpgThe Best Fresh Eating Apple: Again, it’s impossible to choose just one! Macoun tend to be my go-to around this time of year. To me they are one of the very best fresh eating apples. Crisp, and juicy, with a complex sweet-tart flavor, this apple is a New England favorite. Macoun, like its McIntosh parent, is also very good for apple sauce. Other delicious fresh eating favorites: Esopus Spitzenburg is an explosion of flavor in one bite (if you can find it, try it!) and Honeycrisp, of course, are rated one of the best.

20190917_154723The Best All Purpose Apple: The Ginger Gold apple fits easily into this category. They are a very good baking apple and are also excellent for fresh eating.  This early season apple is the first to ripen at our orchard so I look forward to these beautiful yellow apples as they mark the start of apple season. They are not great keepers so get them while they are in season!  Runner up: Baldwin apples are not easy to come by these days even though they were once one of the most widely planted varieties in the U.S.  They ripen late in the season and are another great all-purpose apple.  Unlike the Ginger Gold, they store very well.

Read the rest of the September Sprout.

Save the Date: Harvest Home Festival and 5K 11/3/2019

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The leaves are beginning to change, the air is getting cooler, our harvest is slowing down; fall must be on it’s way! Though the changing leaves mark the end of our busiest time on the farm, their colors also means that it is time to celebrate another successful year of volunteer farming for hunger relief at our annual Harvest Home Fall Festival. 

Our 13th Annual Harvest Home Fall Festival and 5K Trail Run will be taking place on Sunday November 3rd and will include a new Scarecrow Contest! The contest invites community groups to pool their money and support hunger relief in a new, fun and creative way while also getting their name in front of the hundreds of people who attend Harvest Home. Spots are limited, so submit your application today!

craftsThe race kicks off at 10:30am and the festival will begin at 11am. The day includes a 5K trail run, a raffle, bouncy houses, good food, beer and wine, live music, pumpkin catapults, apple cannons, kids crafts, a petting zoo and much more! There is truly something for all ages. Be sure to register for the 5K and buy your festival tickets! Use the discount code “FALL” to get 15% off your 5K registration until September 27th.

Read the rest of the September Sprout.

Volunteer of the Month: Apple Pickers

_DSF5512It’s that time of year where the air is showing a hint of crisp coolness even on the warmest of days and the leaves are telling us that the season is changing. Fall in New England holds a very unique place and is at the heart of many of our traditions. Thoughts of the leaves turning color as though they are flowers and the brightness of light due to the changing angle of the sun all give us a sense of warmth and change. We also can think back to the excitement we experienced as children on a trip to an orchard or farm to pick apples and select pumpkins.  The smells of apples, fallen leaves and crisp fall air all help to make this a most magical time of year.  

For the last several weeks our orchard has been a buzz of activity with hundreds of volunteers helping us to pick, sort and package thousands of pounds of fresh apples. Without these energetic and committed volunteers we would not be able to get these fresh and nutritious apples out for donation to our hunger relief partners. This month we would like to thank and congratulate the many hands helping to do the work of the orchard. Please join us in a hearty thank you and congratulations to all of our volunteers from Bristol Myers Squibb, Dell, Hype 9, Bose, Olympus, PolyOne, Wegmans, Charles River Labs, Bromfield Boys Cross Country Team, Middlesex School and South High. We can not do this work without the help of many and these groups came out in force to support our work. Thank you all for your effort in making our 2019 apple season a success.  

Read the rest of the September Sprout.

What’s Cooking: Pickles

pickle classOur August classes take place while the garden is at its peak and we use that bounty to make pickles! Many of the herbs in the garden are going to seed at that point in the year, so we harvest seeds from dill and coriander to make pickling spice. That pickling spice went into pickled chard that all our cooking class students brought home. This spice mix and brine is a great use for any vegetables you have an overabundance of.

Upcoming classes have some great themes including veggies burgers, apples, whole grains, and orange foods for Halloween. Sign up is for individual class so you can pick the ones that fit in your child’s schedule.

Broccoli Head Chefs (9-12 year olds)

Between Two Buns – Monday, September 30th, 2019, 4-6pm

Apples! – Thursday, October 24th, 2019, 4-6pm

Celery Sous Chefs (5-8 year olds)

Whole Grain Goodness – Wednesday, September 25th, 2019, 4:30-5:30pm

Beta Carotene Monster – Wednesday, October 9th, 2019, 4-5pm

Beta Carotene Monster – Monday, October 28th, 2019, 4:30-5:30pm

Pickling spice

Adapted from Food in Jars by Marisa McClellan

  • 1 tablespoon crushed bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seed
  • 1 tablespoons mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon whole cloves
  • 1 teaspoon dill seed

Put all spices in a small bag or jar and shake to combine. 

Pickled Chard Stems

Adapted from Love and Lemons

Ingredients

  • about 1 cup chard stems (halved lengthwise if thick)
  • 1 tablespoon pickling spice
  • ½ cup vinegar
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 tablespoons sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Add vinegar, water, sugar, and salt to your jar. Microwave for 30 seconds, or until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Add in the pickling spice. 

Chop your chard stems so they fit in your jar. 

Place the chopped stems and sliced shallot in a jar, cover them with the brine and refrigerate overnight before eating them.

Read the rest of the September Sprout.