What’s Cooking: Beta Carotene

carrotsOur October cooking classes were bittersweet because they were the last ones we spent in the garden. Even though most of the garden was put to bed, we still harvested kale, carrots, beets, dill, sage, cilantro, and parsley. In our apple cooking classes we used local apples for an apple tasting and then the Celery Sous Chefs (5-8 year olds) made baked apple oatmeal and apple slices topped with their choice of toppings including sun butter, coconut flakes, dried fruit, and mini chocolate chips. The Broccoli Head Chefs (9-12 year olds) made the same baked oatmeal, plus a raw apple crisp and a kale salad with apples and beets.

Our Halloween classes featured beta carotene. Both ages learned about the health benefits of this vibrant pigment that can be found in carrots, pumpkin, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, and cantaloupe (and other plants too!). It helps our eyes be able to see (but doesn’t improve vision), helps with growth and development, and supports a healthy immune system. The Celery Sous Chef classes made two festive dips: a pumpkin white bean dip and a black bean dip. The Broccoli Head Chef class made both of those dips plus a roasted butternut squash, apple and leek soup, and a grated carrot salad.

This carrot salad does take a bit of work grating, but it was a big hit! The kids wear a pair of these gloves while grating as extra protection against cuts.

Our cooking classes are almost done for the year, but a few are still open! The 2019 schedule will be posted in December.

Broccoli Head Chefs (9-12 year olds)

Magic Eggs – Tuesday, November 27th, 2018, 3:30-5:30pm

It’s a Party! – Monday, December 10th, 2018, 3:30-5:30pm

Shredded Carrot Salad

Recipe adapted from My Paris Kitchen: Recipes and Stories by David Leibovitz

  • 2 pounds carrots
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • Juice from 1 lemon (about 3 tablespoons)
  • 3 tablespoons chopped herbs such as parsley or chives

Using the large holes of a box grater (or using a food processor), grate the carrots.

In a mixing bowl whisk together the olive oil, salt, mustard, sugar, and lemon juice. Toss the grated carrots in the dressing with the chopped herbs.

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Harvest Home Festival and 5K 2018

5kCommunity Harvest Project’s Harvest Home Festival & 5K was Sunday, November 4th and once again it was a HUGE success! The day started with the annual 5K with over 200 runners and walkers that ran the new course through our fields and Grafton Land Trust trails.

The weather was perfect for all our outdoor activities. The kid’s interactive area entertained all ages with a petting zoo, alpacas, CHP hay wagon story time by Grafton Public Library and sing-a-longs.

The grove was bustling with activity lead by Mark from JAM DJ Events who provided music and enhanced the vibe in the grove. Anzio’s Wood Fired Pizza and Say Cheese food trucks served up lunch, and the CHP bake sale had hot homemade soup, delicious cookies, breads, donuts, and not to mention yummy warm apple crisp made by Blackstone Valley Tech with ice cream.

hh1Meanwhile in the barn, the kids craft area and Happy Face Painting were bustling with kids having a blast making sun catchers, spin art, and duct tape wallets to name a few crafts. Our raffle tables had several baskets filled with gift certificates from local vendors and beautiful quilts were available as well!

Back outside, kids (and adults) line up to shoot the apple cannon; this activity always thrills the kids and the audience. The pumpkin trebuchet competition was a huge hit with attendees cheering on the teams working the catapults and sending pumpkins up to 500 feet across our fields. In the afternoon, Big John Short played for several hours by the campfire while everyone had homemade s’mores.

CHP would like to thank the community and all the 150 volunteers for coming out and supporting our mission.  All proceeds from Harvest Home support our hunger relief efforts. We hope you can join us next year on November 3rd, 2019!

Cover crop for healthy soil

covercrop1

Vetch (L) and winter rye (R)

A question we hear a lot here on the farm is “What goes on here all winter?”.  The answer is quite a bit actually! To be sure, just as each year’s field work and clean-up are being finished in the fall, a great deal of planning and preparation is beginning to get ready for the following year. From seed schedules and planting maps to equipment maintenance and supply ordering, many moving parts come together to prepare for a successful growing season at Community Harvest Project. Even during all of this planning and preparation, the farm fields are hard at work as well.

covercrop2

Vetch and winter rye being mixed and inoculated for better germination. 

Our final fall clean-up step in the field is to plant cover crops everywhere that we cultivated during the course of the previous season. A cover crop is an intentionally-planted vegetative “cover” for the exposed soil left behind after all the vegetables have been harvested from the field. This soil is often drained of much of its nutritional content by the season’s crops. When exposed, it is also in danger of springtime erosion as winter snows begin to melt and water runs its course. Here at CHP we plant a mixture of winter rye and vetch during the autumn months. Winter rye grows quickly, is frost tolerant, and establishes strong, complex root systems which hold valuable organic soil in place and help to keep unwanted weeds at bay. Vetch is a legume which, like most bean plants, has the amazing ability to return depleted nitrogen back into the soil. Nitrogen is one of a plant’s most important sources of nutrition. Vetch also produces beautiful, purple flower clusters which are a favorite among many of our most common pollinators.

covercrop3.jpgWhen spring returns, we mow the cover crops to the ground and plow the organic material into the soil. This returns all of the nutrients that the plants absorbed during the fall months. The added benefit is that this process also incorporates a wealth of vegetative, organic material directly back into the ground, thus continuing to build on our beautiful and rich topsoil. Even when the veggies aren’t growing, the farm is working to be ready for many more seasons ahead.

One Step Further Campaign

eggplantThanks to the hard work of our volunteers, over 60,000 food insecure community members received fresh, nutritious produce this summer. Everyday your work helped food insecure individuals live healthy lives.

Hunger is an ongoing issue that does not end just because the summer does, which is why our work never stops and we continue to take steps to ensure that every neighbor has access to the food they need. Nevertheless, we can’t do it without your help.

Today, we are embarking on our One Step Further Campaign and we are beyond excited to share that your donation today will have double the impact, thanks to a generous match! Major General (US Army, Retired) Robert and Karen Catalanotti, Assumption College Trustee and Community Harvest Project Team Leader, respectively, is proud and honored to support our hunger relief efforts this year. The first donations up to $10,000 will be matched dollar by dollar, to make their impact go even further.

Would you be willing to join us  and take your passion one step further to make a donation of $25, $50, or $100 to feed more individuals and families in need? Please join us today by making a donation! Your support will make a real, lasting impact in the lives of food insecure community members.

Thank you!

Volunteer of the Month: Produce Delivery Team Leaders

10.03.2018.Chris Howe.Partner DeliveryIf you know Community Harvest Project, you also know that we rely heavily on our Volunteer Team Leaders to make our operations run smoothly and efficiently on a daily basis. This hearty team of dedicated volunteers is the face of our organization and they always are available to answer a call for help. Fast forward to late spring when we began to have conversations with some of our smaller partners about their weekly pick ups at the farm. Our friends at Loaves and Fishes in Devens, and Visitation House and Family Health Center in Worcester had some specific challenges in their operations that would prevent them from picking up their weekly allotment of fresh produce. After some brainstorming we decided to reach out to our Team Leaders to see if any of them would be willing to help. Challenge solved.

This month we would like to thank our incredibly dedicated Volunteer Team Leader delivery crew that made sure thousands of pounds of fresh healthy produce made it out to our partners. By loading up their personal vehicles and driving hundreds of miles over the past few months this team continued to show what’s best about the Community Harvest Project Team. Thank you to Chris Howe, Linda McPherson, Peach Warren, Russ Anderson and David Small for quite literally going the extra mile to ensure that our partner agencies clients received the bounty of the work that they help facilitate here in our fields.  

To Chris, Linda, Peach, Russ and David we want to say thank you for your amazing commitment to our mission and your drive to help our community.  We appreciate all that you have done in order to make sure those seeking hunger relief had the opportunity to access fresh produce grown on our farms.  Thanks for being part of our team!

Looking Back on the Season

The 2018 season is winding down, and our team has had a lot to reflect on. Here are some end-of-season thoughts from our Volunteer Farming team:

Dave Johnson, Farm Manager:
As farmers we are uniquely fortunate to experience the nuances of day to day change throughout our New England seasons.  We strive to align ourselves and our work with the rhythm of this cycle on a daily basis.  With leaves beginning to turn and autumn’s characteristic crispness on the air, we are reminded that when we walk in step with our natural surroundings, many things are above our control.  We’re gifted the opportunity to work alongside the plants, soil, critters (the helpful and the less-helpful), and even the weather to grow delicious, nutritious, and beautiful fruits and vegetables for neighbors in our community to enjoy and give to their families.  Here at the farm, this season has brought thousands of individuals and groups together to work and have fun in service to a mission bigger than any of us alone.  The 2018 growing season has presented us with a good number of challenges, but we’ve enjoyed our successes too.  Some of our all-stars this year include peppers, eggplant, butternut squash, and the seemingly never-ending green beans!
As we embark on the process of planning and looking toward the coming year it is both humbling and exciting to apply the lessons that the farm continues to teach.  There is an abundance of potential living in the soil we till, the seeds we plant, and the countless community members who give of their time and effort.  We continue to do our very best to realize and cultivate that potential and treat each new season as a gift.
Susan Conant, Orchard Manager:

Over the past two months, we have been very busy at Prospect Hill Farm harvesting and packing apples and are looking forward to some quieter days ahead.  This growing season was not without its challenges, but a growing season on a farm rarely is.  The unseasonably warm temperatures in August and September combined with the very wet weather had an impact on the already medium to light apple crop.  We have had some wonderfully resilient volunteers this harvest season picking in all kinds of conditions from near 100 degree heat to heavy cold rain.  Thank you to all the volunteers that made this season a success!  Despite the weather obstacles, we are on track to donate over 100,000 pounds of apples to local hunger relief organizations this year.

Volunteers of the Month: Dell EMC

VolunteerGroup.Dell.2017 (17).JPGThis month we would like to applaud a very large and mighty volunteer group that offers unique support to Community Harvest Project year in and year out .  Our friends at Dell EMC continue to connect with our work in large numbers and over the last couple of years they have volunteered at such a rate that they account for almost a quarter of our total volunteer count.  Year after year Dell EMC group coordinators do the work of organizing teams to come out and help with our hunger relief efforts. Because of this effort this year brings to a total of over 10,000 volunteer visits to our Grafton and Harvard since they began visiting.  

Our Dell EMC volunteers also find creative ways to help us drive our mission with interesting events such as holiday luncheons or an inside mini golf tournament at headquarters with proceeds being donated to support our work.  They recognize the great need in our community to provide healthy produce to those seeking hunger relief services. It is fitting that this level of support comes to us via Hopkinton as that is where our little project started with the Abbotts original Elmwood Farm.  We like to think that they would be proud to see the amount of support sprouting out from Dell EMC just down the road from their farm.

We would like to thank the entire Dell EMC Team for their incredible support in 2018 and look forward to seeing them back on our farms next year.  We could not do this work without their help and are humbled that they continue to choose to work with Community Harvest Project.

 

One Step Further Campaign

YE IconsThanks to the hard work of our volunteers, over 60,000 food insecure community members received fresh, nutritious produce this summer. We were recently reminded of their impact by one our hunger relief partners, Community Servings. After receiving fresh lettuce, tomatoes, and squash, Kevin Conner, Director of Food Services, remarked:

 “Our partnership with Community Harvest Project enriches our meals with top-quality local produce. Community Servings’ culinary and nutrition teams use the fresh, local produce to carefully construct 15 different diets to accommodate the nutritional and medical needs of our clients suffering from a variety of critical and chronic illnesses.”

Everyday your work helped food insecure individuals live healthy lives. Hunger is an ongoing issue that does not end just because the summer does, which is why our work never stops and we continue to take steps to ensure that every neighbor has access to the food they need. Nevertheless, we can’t do it without your help.

That is why today, we are embarking on our One Step Further Campaign. Our goal is raise $50,000 by December 31. We know you are as passionate about hunger relief we are and we hope you be willing to take your passion one step further to make a donation to feed more individuals and families in need.

We are beyond excited to share that your donation today will have double the impact, thanks to a generous match! Major General (US Army, Retired) Robert and Karen Catalanotti, Assumption College Trustee and Community Harvest Project Team Leader, respectively, is proud and honored to support our hunger relief efforts this year. The first donations up to $10,000 will be matched dollar by dollar, to make their impact go even further.

Please join us today by making a donation! Your support will make a real, lasting impact in the lives of food insecure community members.

Thank you!

Now Hiring: 2019 Farm Coordinator

We are currently seeking a Farm Coordinator to work under the direction of our Farm Manager at our North Grafton site for 2019. This location farms 12-15 acres of vegetables per year; other small crops include blueberries and flowers. Volunteers work alongside the farm team daily from March to October, and all produce from this location is donated.

The right candidate will have at least two years of experience in agricultural work, will be self-motivated, have a friendly personality, and enjoy working with individuals of all ages and abilities. See below for more qualifications.

Interested applicants should email a cover letter, resume, and 2-3 references to Farm Manager Dave Johnson at dave@community-harvest.org.

Duties and responsibilities

  • Volunteers – assist Farm Manager with:
    • Assigning duties to all volunteer groups and overseeing their proper completion
    • Overseeing all volunteer supplies and other needs to ensure proper volunteer support
    • Managing the volunteer Team Leaders while on active duty
    • Ensuring a positive volunteer experience through all of the above
  • Planning – assist Farm Manager with:
    • Yearly crop plan
    • Yearly variety plan and seed order
    • Yearly planning of acreage rotation
    • Yearly planning of equipment needs
    • Yearly pest and weed management plan
  • Operations – assist Farm Manager with:
    • Executing daily agricultural duties
    • Executing daily produce distributions
    • Monitoring of equipment and recommending related repairs/replacements
    • Monitoring of safety plan and ensuring its execution
    • Execution of skilled/restricted farm activities
    • Execution of administrative work (records, etc)
  • Oversight of property maintenance in conjunction with the Farm Manager

Qualifications

  • 2+ years of agriculture experience
  • Experience with tractor work
  • Experience with equipment maintenance
  • Experience with volunteers, nonprofit work, and/or interns is highly desired
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Excellent problem solving skills and a ‘can do’ attitude
  • Ability to work in all weather
  • Ability to lift 50 pounds
  • Ability to spend long periods standing

Position Logistics & Benefits

  • This is a full-time, year round position.
  • Compensation: dependent on experience
  • Time Off: 20 days of paid time off / 5 days of paid sick time / paid holidays (after a 90 day probationary period, with the expectation that the majority of PTO will be used outside of October – April
  • Employer-sponsored health insurance with 50% of coverage paid by CHP
  • Employer-sponsored 401k plan (no match)

What’s Cooking: Whole Grains

What's Cooking - October.PNGIn our September cooking class we learned about whole grains! First we started with what a grain is (the seed from many different plants in the grass family) and examined the seeds from the winter rye we grow as cover crop on the farm. Then we talked about the difference between a whole grain and a refined grain. A grain is made up for 3 parts: the bran, endosperm, and germ. The majority of the nutrients and fiber are in the bran and germ, which are removed when a grain is refined (like when making white rice or white flour). The benefit to refining is the grain product can last longer, but it is not nearly as nutritious. The Harvard School of Public Health recommends the majority of the grains we eat be whole grains.

Our recipe for the class was a salad with farro, a kind of wheat that is often consumed as the whole seed (like rice), as opposed to ground in to a flour. It cooks up in about 20 minutes, and freezes well. Since we still had summer produce to work with we made the salad with tomatoes and peaches, but this is easily adaptable with other vegetables. Root vegetables, broccoli, cauliflower, eggplant, asparagust, and just about any other vegetables you can think of would be great.

Coming up we have classes featuring orange foods for Halloween, eggs, pizza, and party food for the holiday season! All classes are open enrollment, and proceeds support our hunger relief efforts.

Broccoli Head Chefs (9-12 year olds)

The Beta Carotene Monster – Tuesday, October 30th, 2018, 3:30-5:30pm

Magic Eggs – Tuesday, November 27th, 2018, 3:30-5:30pm

It’s a Party! – Monday, December 10th, 2018, 3:30-5:30pm

Celery Sous Chefs (5-8 year olds)

The Beta Carotene Monster – Tuesday, October 23rd, 4-5pm

Personalize Your Pizza – Tuesday, November 13th, 2018, 4-5pm

Delightful Dips – Monday, December 3rd, 2018, 4-5pm

 

Summer Farro Salad

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

Ingredients:

For the salad:

  • 2 cups cooked farro
  • 5 kale leaves, torn into small pieces
  • 1 large peaches, pitted and chopped
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes (halved) or chopped tomato
  • 1 cup corn (raw or frozen)
  • A large handful basil, torn into pieces

For the dressing:

  • ⅓ cup olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. In a jar combine olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, a pinch of salt, and a few grinds of pepper. Shake to combine.
  2. In a large bowl combine the farro, greens, peaches, tomatoes, corn, and basil. Add the dressing and toss to combine.