Job Posting: Orchard Assistant

Community Harvest Project is a 501(c)3 non profit farm that engages volunteers to grow fruits and vegetables to provide to those experiencing hunger.  Through our volunteer farming programs and community partnerships, we bring thousands of community members together each year to improve access to healthy foods for individuals and families across Worcester County and other local communities.  

We are currently seeking an orchard assistant to work under the direction of our orchard manager at our Harvard site, the Prospect Hill Community Orchard.  This 75-acre property includes approximately 27 acres of apple trees, an acre of peaches and an acre of asparagus.  The vast majority of the crops are grown for donation to our partner agencies.

The right candidate will have experience working in an orchard and/or other agricultural work, will be self-motivated, have a friendly personality, and enjoy working with individuals of all ages and abilities.  See below for more information.

Job Purpose:

  • Assist in all orchard operations under the direction of the Orchard Manager:
    • Help execute daily agricultural duties
      • Planting
      • Weed control
      • Irrigation
      • Fertilization
      • Mowing
      • Pruning
      • Equipment maintenance
      • General property maintenance
      • Other farm duties
  • Help execute Harvest Duties
    • Picking
    • Grading and packing
    • Partner distributions
    • Occasional deliveries
  • Execute skilled/restricted farm activities after necessary training
    • Operate trucks, atvs, tractors, loaders, mowers, fork trucks, sprayers, weed trimmers, chainsaws, plows, fertilizer spreaders and other farm equipment and tools
    • Apply fungicides, insecticides, PGRs, herbicides, rodenticides, and plant nutrients 
  • Assist in all volunteer operations
    • Work with team leaders to plan volunteer sessions
    • Oversee, train and work with volunteer groups
    • Oversee, train and work with farm interns
    • Provide a positive volunteer experience

Benefits:

  • Compensation: negotiable based on experience
  • Time off:  two weeks paid time off in year 1 and 2 to increase in following years per employee handbook guidelines.  5 days of paid sick time.  13 paid holidays.
  • Employer-sponsored individual health insurance with 50% of coverage paid by employer
  • Employer-sponsored 401k plan (no match)
  • Education/workshop fees for necessary licensure and credits 

Qualifications: 

  • 2 years working in a farm setting
  • 1 year of tractor experience, other farm equipment and power tool experience a plus
  • Knowledge of Integrated Pest Management and a Pesticide Applicator License a plus
    • If you do not have your PAL, training will be provided and CHP will pay for licensure.
  • Ability to lift 50lbs
  • Ability to work in all weather conditions
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Positive, self-starting attitude

To apply please send a resume and cover letter to susan@community-harvest.org.

311,500 individual servings to feed our neighbors.

July was an extremely busy month at both our locations! Over 69,000 pounds have been donated for hunger relief so far this season! Our farm team has been working day in and day out to harvest all the produce still in our fields. Just this week, okra, cucumbers, cabbage and tomatoes have been picked, washed and packed with the help of our wonderful volunteers. Our orchard has started their harvest season as well!


Thank you to the following July funders for their support of our mission to provide fresh, healthy produce for individuals in our community experiencing hunger. Ludcke Foundation, Greater Worcester Community Foundation, Bridging Peace of Tides Foundation, Fletcher Foundation, Mathworks, The Vela Foundation and Bristol Myers Squibb have granted critical funds that will help us continue to harvest for hunger relief throughout the 2020 season.

Volunteers Needed!!

Your help is needed at our Harvard Orchard, It’s apple season! 


It’s time to begin getting our apples off the trees and all we need now is some group volunteers to fill in our schedule. There is no better activity than being outside in an apple orchard on a fall morning. These apples will be donated directly to hunger relief partners throughout Central Massachusetts making your time a great way to support our community. We have strict social distancing protocols in place and the work is outdoors in the orchard or in our open air packing room to keep you safe during your visit. 


We have a significant amount of volunteers needed from now through the end of October. Consider organizing a group visit with your colleagues, neighbors, family and friends. To sign up and request a volunteer date please fill out and submit this form. Any questions, please email Wayne McAuliffe directly at wayne@community-harvest.org

Over 36,000 Lbs Harvested For Hunger Relief So Far!!

We are in the middle of our busiest season around the farm – harvest season! Our farm team and volunteers have been harvesting vegetables everyday including eggplant, tomatoes, okra, tomatillos and zucchini. Carrots and beets were planted just last week and our second planting of summer squash and zucchini has germinated and will be ready for harvest in late August and into September.


To date, our team has harvested over 36,316 pounds of vegetables; that is over 166,565 individual servings going to neighbors in our community currently experiencing hunger. And there are still thousands of pounds of produce in the fields to harvest. If you are interested in volunteering with us this summer – we would love to have you! We are now holding early shifts from 7am to 9am on Tuesdays and Thursdays in addition to our 9am-12pm shifts Monday-Saturday. We are also now accepting group volunteer requests (25 people or less) for our orchard schedule starting August 28 through October 9th. For more information and to signup, click here.

Harvard Residents Support APR!

On June 20, 2020 at their Annual Town Meeting, voters in the Town of Harvard agreed to contribute $150,000 of Community Preservation Funds toward the purchase of an agricultural preservation restriction (APR) for our Prospect Hill Orchard!

To ensure the long lasting future of harvesting fruit for hunger relief at our orchard, we have teamed up with the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources, the Town of Harvard, Harvard Conservation Trust (HCT), and the Sudbury Valley Trustees (SVT) to raise funds to endow our orchard through the sale of the APR, which will allow farming to continue on the land and prevent the property from ever being developed.

The Impact of One Million

2019 was a milestone year. At the conclusion of the 2019 harvesting season, we had officially donated over ONE MILLION pounds of produce for hunger relief in just 5 years. Nutritious fruits and vegetables were made available to 83,538 of our neighbors who don’t have enough nutrient-rich food to put on their tables.
This benchmark, however, would not have been possible without our community of dedicated volunteers, staff, board members, hunger relief partners, interns, monthly givers, corporate sponsors and our hundreds of individual donors. To read about the Impact of One Million in our 2019 Annual Report, and all the people who helped us get there – click here!

Blossoms, Asparagus and A Farewell

Spring is always a busy time at our Harvard orchard. 130 Ambrosia trees were planted which have already started to leaf out and some even have blossoms. The flowers will be pulled off for a few years to let the trees focus their energy on growing strong roots and branches. The other apple and peach trees are in fruit setting mode! Now that fruit is beginning to grow, fertilizing around the orchard will start. Spring is a critical time for pest management – our orchard team has been scouting for insect and disease issues. 

We have also been harvesting asparagus daily and delivering it to Loaves & Fishes Food Pantry for donations on Wednesday and Fridays. Asparagus is the first crop we harvest from either property for donation. 
Last week was our Orchard Assistant, Savannah’s, last day. Savannah has been a part of the CHP Team since 2017 when she joined as a summer intern. After graduating from Clark University in 2018, she re-joined the team in the fall of 2018 as the orchard assistant. She hit the ground running in the busy harvest season – and never stopped. “I can’t express how much I will miss working with Savannah. Not only is she a hard worker with a great attitude, but she is also a wonderful individual that I have been lucky enough to get to know” says Susan Conant, Orchard Manager. Savannah has been essential in implementing so many projects at the orchard during her time here. While we are excited to see what her next chapter brings and wish her nothing but good luck, she will be truly missed by the staff and volunteers.

Adjusting plans to continue to support our community.

Like many of you, we have spent the last several weeks evaluating how all of the variables associated with the current Covid-19 pandemic affect our operations. We realize the far-reaching impact and disruption that this is causing throughout our communities and hope that you and your loved ones are well and remain safe. 

Thus far, we have maintained our focus on preparing our orchard for spring blooms, seeding for eventual transplanting outdoors, and preparing our fields for planting. Our staff has been working diligently with the help of a small but mighty team of volunteers and we are pleased to report that everything is right on schedule here on our farms. All of this is in an effort to stay on track and ultimately provide much needed fresh fruits and vegetables to the 60,000+ in our community seeking hunger relief from our partner agencies. That need is likely to grow and our crops will be a critical piece of community support in the coming months. 

With the current restrictions placed on large gatherings we have had to rethink how we will go about our work during the planting season. As an organization that thrives because of the thousands of volunteers that support our work each year, this is particularly challenging. However, to protect the health of everyone in our community, we are cancelling all group volunteer requests through June 13.

Despite this, we remain committed to fulfilling our role as the largest or only source of free fresh fruits and vegetables for our 16 hunger relief partners, especially as the need now grows. In these unprecedented circumstances, we have resorted to using a mechanical planter to ensure that our crops are in the ground on time so that we are still able to provide fresh fruits and vegetables to those who rely on us. As with everything, we will continue to reevaluate and update you on our next steps in the coming weeks. 

While we can still provide essential nutrition to our neighbors in need, we will deeply miss the connections fostered between volunteers both veteran and new on our farm this spring. Recognizing the deep good in friends and strangers, the light and joy of working hard and working together – that will be harder but equally important to try to replicate as we are now called to take care of each other in new ways amid social distancing.

So we encourage you to stay in touch with each other – and with us. Follow our Facebook and and Instagram to stay informed. Stay tuned for other changes as we continue to adjust our plans for this season. 

With your support, we can help our neighbors in need as illness, unemployment, and instability make having enough healthy food that much harder. Any donations made during this time will ensure that we are able to continue to provide healthy hunger relief as our community recovers. Your support and understanding in the coming weeks and months is critical and we will strive to get back to normal operations as soon as the situation allows.

A Word From Our Farmers – Spring Update

Spring is showing its face here in North Grafton as we plant our first seeds of the season. We’re grateful and excited to start another year on the farm. Our theme for this year is soil health and fertility as a strategy to grow even more fresh produce. This emphasis is a nod to the cycle that keeps us all alive and healthy — we feed our soils, they in turn nourish the thousands of plants across the farm, those plants yield thousands and thousands of servings of fresh vegetables for distribution throughout our community. Though our volunteer operations are currently on hold, early season volunteer crews were working hard to get our greenhouses set up, blueberry bushes pruned, and seeds planted. Currently, our greenhouse is home to the baby kale, collard, broccoli, and cabbage plants that will be nourishing neighbors across our region in just a few months time. New crops at the farm this year will include peas and onions while we increase our production of green leafy veggies. We’re looking forward to a fertile and robust growing season and to working side by side with our community to grow healthy crops for hunger relief. 

Farming for Hunger Relief: Sustainable Farm Internship

Spend your summer working with a leading Central Massachusetts non-profit organization as they continue to improve operations and expand their reach of healthy produce to Worcester County’s most vulnerable. Gain valuable experience and learn about mid-size farming practices, the basics of non-profit operations, and volunteer organizing while you spend your summer outdoors working with a diverse group of staff and volunteers.  Be part of a dynamic team aiding hunger relief in Worcester County while exploring your future.  

Responsibilities

Our Interns will participate fully in all aspects of operating a non-profit volunteer farming organization.  They will have direct hands-on engagement in farming over 10 acres of vegetables and 30 acres of fruit trees.  The internship includes working with and leading volunteers in farm activity while gaining valuable leadership and communication skills.   

Tasks include but not limited to:

  • Lead diverse groups of volunteer farmers in daily activities at our farms primarily in North Grafton, MA. 
  • Assist with maintaining a positive volunteer experience for all who visit the farm
  • Support farm maintenance tasks (mowing, harvesting, weeding, irrigation, etc.) 
  • Occasional visits to work with our orchard team in Harvard, MA will be required    
  • Support and work on some organizational events as needed 
  • Other tasks as needed

Educational Components 

  • Interns will have the opportunity to work with and learn from all staff members of the non-profit and will gain insight into the multi-faceted operations of the organization 
  • Interns will be responsible for completing a group farm project to be completed by the end of the internship.
  • The internship also includes off-site visits to partner organizations which allows students an opportunity to learn more about local hunger relief efforts and non-profit partnerships.

Preferred Qualifications, qualified applicants will:

  • Be an excellent communicator and be able to demonstrate previous leadership responsibility
  • Have interest and/or some experience in farming or gardening
  • Be able to lift farm equipment and/or produce weighing up to 50 pounds
  • Be comfortable using or learning to use power tools like weed-whackers and lawn mowers 
  • Be prepared for work in outdoor weather conditions, we operate rain or shine
  • Work within a team or independently, be self-motivated, with great attention to detail
  • Have reliable transportation   
  • Be available for 30 hours per week, June through August, working primarily-morning hours with an occasional late afternoon/early evening or Saturday.  Unique scheduling needs may be negotiated in advance and are subject to operational needs of the organization 
  • Be flexible and have a sense of humor! This is a true farming operation and we operate at the whim of nature, so flexibility is key 

Organization Information: 

Community Harvest Project (CHP), a 501(c)3 organization, is dedicated to improving access to healthy foods through community engagement.  Through their volunteer farming, education, and volunteer programs and partnerships, they bring thousands of community members together each year to build an engaged and healthier Worcester County.  In 2019 working together with over 7,500 volunteers they produced significant fresh produce resources for individuals and families in need throughout our community who otherwise may not have had access.  The produce is donated through numerous partner organizations such as The Worcester County Food Bank, Community Servings, Loaves and Fishes, Jeremiah’s Inn, and The Hector Reyes House.  CHP operates at Brigham Hill Community Farm and White’s Farm in North Grafton, MA and at Prospect Hill Farm in Harvard, MA.  

For more information about their programs and impact, please visit www.community-harvest.org

Contact

To apply send letter of interest and resume via email to Wayne McAuliffe, Manager of Volunteer Programs, at wayne@community-harvest.org