#GivingTuesday is November 28!

Help CHP raise $5,000 for #GivingTuesday on November 28th! Make sure you donate to our “Coming Together to Give Back Campaign” and have your contributions matched.

Giving Tuesday

Please take a moment this #GivingTuesday to appreciate all generosity in our communities and across the world! Each season Community Harvest Project is astounded and grateful to see busloads of schoolchildren, civic organizations,local corporations, and many dedicated families and individuals coming together to volunteer and give back to those experiencing hunger in our community.

This year, CHP’s is raising #GivingTuesday donations to support our “Coming Together to Give Back” campaign. This is a unique opportunity to DOUBLE YOUR DONATION as contributions to this campaign will be matched up to $10,000. Help us reach our $5,000 #GivingTuesday goal this year and double your impact in the community.

Together in 2017, you came together to give back at our farms!  8,500 community volunteers grew and donated over 265,000 pounds of fresh local produce to partner agencies. The food we grew provided over 1,100,000 servings of fresh fruits and vegetables for individuals and families who may otherwise not have access.

Never doubt that your donations make a difference. The Virginia Thurston Healing Garden in Harvard, MA, has a mission is to optimize the quality of life for all those affected by cancer. As an organization who receives our food donations, they understand first hand the positive impact fresh fruits and vegetables paired with nutrition education can have on a community:

“The Community Harvest Project and Healing Garden Pilot Study has again conclusively proved that providing access to fresh produce in conjunction with nutrition education has markedly improved client health…We are thrilled with its success and we have seen the remarkable impact it has made on the health and well-being of our clients.”

We hope that on this #GivingTuesday you come together to give back and help us reach our $5,000 goal. Thank you for your support!

 

Read the rest of the November Sprout! 

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Healthy Thanksgiving Recipes

Thanksgiving can be a day of indulgence, but as a day of thanks we should consider one thing to be very appreciative of: our health! Thanksgiving may start as a single day, but with the mountain of leftovers the meals stretch to many more. For our health’s sake, we should consider dishes that highlight their vegetable ingredients instead of smothering their nutrition with saturated fat and sugar.

Mashed potatoes can be laden with butter and cream. If you think it is sacrilege to consider a Thanksgiving table with potatoes that are roasted instead of mashed, you could instead make those potatoes with just a tad less butter and cream.

Stuffing is a necessary part of the Thanksgiving meal, but also an excellent place to include some extra vegetables (or fruits!). Sautéed greens like kale are a great addition, especially when their bitterness balanced with a sweeter (but not sugary!) ingredient like caramelized onions, fennel, or apples.

Two ubiquitous dishes, sweet potatoes with marshmallows and green bean casserole, are begging for a makeover. Foregoing sweet potatoes with added sugar and marshmallows for ones that are simply mashed or roasted cuts 150 empty calories per serving. A single serving of the classic condensed cream of mushroom soup used in casserole has 90 calories total, and 50 of those calories are from fat, plus 36% of your recommended daily salt intake. This classic casserole is the inspiration for the recipe below, which highlights the earthiness of mushrooms, sweetness of onions, and brightness from green beans with a much better health report card.

Green beans with sautéed mushrooms and caramelized onions

Serves 8

  • 1 lb. of white or yellow onions
  • 1 lb. of button mushrooms
  • 2 lb. of green beans, stems removed and cut in half cross-wise
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
  • Salt and pepper

Thinly slice the onions. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat and add 1 tablespoon each of the butter and olive oil. When the butter is melted, add the onions and a pinch of salt. Cook them, stirring occasionally, for 45 minutes to an hour. They should lose the majority of their moisture and become a dark caramel color.

Wash and thinly slice the mushrooms. In a separate pan, heat the remaining butter and olive oil over medium high heat. Add the mushrooms in a single layer (working in a couple batches if necessary) and sprinkle with salt. If the pan looks dry wait before adding any more oil – the mushrooms will give off a lot of moisture. Cook until they are browned on both sides and then remove to a bowl.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Fill a large bowl with ice and water, and put it next to the stove. Put the green beans in the boiling water and cook for 3-5 minutes. They should be bright green but still retain some crispness. When they are done shock them in the ice water to stop them from cooking further, and then dry them off in a dish towel.

To finish the dish, add the mushrooms and green beans into the pan with the onions. Toss to combine all the vegetables, season with salt and pepper, and finish with the vinegar. Taste and adjust the seasonings as needed. Keep on the stove for another 5 minutes, until just heated through.

Read the rest of the November Sprout! 

Healthy Thanksgiving Recipes

_B9A4473

Thanksgiving can be a day of indulgence, but as a day of thanks we should consider one thing to be very appreciative of: our health! Thanksgiving may start as a single day, but with the mountain of leftovers the meals stretch to many more. For our health’s sake, we should consider dishes that highlight their vegetable ingredients instead of smothering their nutrition with saturated fat and sugar.

Mashed potatoes can be laden with butter and cream. If you think it is sacrilege to consider a Thanksgiving table with potatoes that are roasted instead of mashed, you could instead make those potatoes with just a tad less butter and cream.

Stuffing is a necessary part of the Thanksgiving meal, but also an excellent place to include some extra vegetables (or fruits!). Sautéed greens like kale are a great addition, especially when their bitterness balanced with a sweeter (but not sugary!) ingredient like caramelized onions, fennel, or apples.

Two ubiquitous dishes, sweet potatoes with marshmallows and green bean casserole, are begging for a makeover. Foregoing sweet potatoes with added sugar and marshmallows for ones that are simply mashed or roasted cuts 150 empty calories per serving. A single serving of the classic condensed cream of mushroom soup used in casserole has 90 calories total, and 50 of those calories are from fat, plus 36% of your recommended daily salt intake. This classic casserole is the inspiration for the recipe below, which highlights the earthiness of mushrooms, sweetness of onions, and brightness from green beans with a much better health report card.

Green beans with sautéed mushrooms and caramelized onions

_B9A4471Serves 8

  • 1 lb. of white or yellow onions
  • 1 lb. of button mushrooms
  • 2 lb. of green beans, stems removed and cut in half cross-wise
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
  • Salt and pepper

Thinly slice the onions. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat and add 1 tablespoon each of the butter and olive oil. When the butter is melted, add the onions and a pinch of salt. Cook them, stirring occasionally, for 45 minutes to an hour. They should lose the majority of their moisture and become a dark caramel color.

Wash and thinly slice the mushrooms. In a separate pan, heat the remaining butter and olive oil over medium high heat. Add the mushrooms in a single layer (working in a couple batches if necessary) and sprinkle with salt. If the pan looks dry wait before adding any more oil – the mushrooms will give off a lot of moisture. Cook until they are browned on both sides and then remove to a bowl.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Fill a large bowl with ice and water, and put it next to the stove. Put the green beans in the boiling water and cook for 3-5 minutes. They should be bright green but still retain some crispness. When they are done shock them in the ice water to stop them from cooking further, and then dry them off in a dish towel.

To finish the dish, add the mushrooms and green beans into the pan with the onions. Toss to combine all the vegetables, season with salt and pepper, and finish with the vinegar. Taste and adjust the seasonings as needed. Keep on the stove for another 5 minutes, until just heated through.

Read the rest of the November Sprout! 

Volunteers of the Month: Harvest Home & 5K Volunteers!

D81_20171105_130243_01aOur season is officially over now that we have the Harvest Home Festival and 5K under our belt.  If you were one of the people that came out to support our work that day it is likely that you came into contact with one of the many volunteers that it takes to support an event of that size.  The day went off very smoothly thanks to the almost 100 volunteers that donated their time and energy to make sure each of our visitors enjoyed their time.  Between making sure everyone is able to park and cross our roads safely to hayride guides, trebuchet safety monitors and beer servers everyone is a critical part of ensuring the day is a success.  Some  work is also done in advance so it took an army to get our trails ready and set up for the big day.  We are very lucky to be able to round up a great team of volunteers in order to support the event which is our largest of the year and helps to fund our operations.  

This year Tori our Education and Volunteer Coordinator took the reins and recruited, scheduled and communicated with our Harvest Home Volunteers.  It was her first time taking on this responsibility and she did an amazing job ensuring that we had the right people at the right time in all of the right places.  She even took it one step further by recruiting her mother to help out at the front gate with admissions.  So, we would all like to applaud Tori for a job well done in supporting the event with great volunteers, including her mom.  

For our November Volunteer of the Month we would like to thank all of the volunteers who participated.  From our regular Volunteer Team Leaders who make this place run like a fine machine day in day out, to our Volunteer Board Members who work tirelessly on our behalf everyone in our community pitching in together is what makes it work.  We would also like to thank our volunteers from Douglas High School, Assumption College’s Baseball Team, Worcester Restaurant Group, The Junior League of Worcester, Grafton Job Corps, Grafton Boy Scout Troop 106, Waters Corporation, our very own Harvest Home Committee and each and every volunteer that spent their day with us.  Your help and selflessness in supporting our event is greatly appreciated!  We could not do all that we do in supporting hunger relief throughout the community without your help.  Thank you!   

Read the rest of the November Sprout! 

An Update On Our 2017 Initiatives

Each year we challenge ourselves to do more, be better, and make a bigger impact on our community. This year was no exception, and we undertook a number of Initiatives to improve our Volunteer Farming and Education programs. Below are just a few of the many projects you may have seen us working on this summer!

Produce Varieties.jpgIncreased Produce Variety: Each year we work with our partners to create our crop plan, so we can ensure that we’re growing the right types of produce for our recipients. It’s not enough to grow nutritious food, it needs to be tasty too! This year we trialed a number of new varieties including tatume squash, tomatillos, ground cherries, and different varieties of sweet peppers and eggplant. Some crops fared better than others, but we received great feedback and are looking forward to trying new plantings next year. In Harvard, we also planted an acre of peaches! Although these won’t bear fruit right away, they will eventually help to diversify our fruit donations.

Partnership Diversification: As our vegetable and fruit production increases, we continue to work with new community partners to reach food insecure individuals. This year was our largest group yet, with a great mix of new and returning partners in both our Grafton and Harvard communities. These organizations included: Worcester County Food Bank, Community Servings, Family Health Center of Worcester, Grafton Food Pantry, The Virginia Thurston Healing Garden, Hector Reyes House Kylie’s Kare Kitz for Kids, Loaves & Fishes, Key Program, YouInc, Bread of Life Food Pantry, Boston Area Gleaners.

StudentsEducation Improvements: Since we started operating nutrition education programs we’ve learned more and more each year about how we can better educate our students. In 2017 we offered a new series of cooking classes and scholarships for our Sprouting Minds programs. We also introduced educational signs around the farm, so our visitors can learn more about our practices (like composting!) and we debuted a new presentation for our student volunteers to better engage them in nutritional principles before they headed out to the fields.

Cover Cropping: One question we were asked by several volunteers this year was why one of our fields looked like it was growing grass instead of vegetables. Well, it wasn’t grass, but cover crop! Farming can deplete the nutrients naturally found in soil, but by planting certain crops like rye and vetch, you can add those nutrients back year. We have traditionally cover cropped in the fall, but this year we began a rotating acreage program where one field will be out of production each year so it can receive longer care. But don’t worry, we still planted plenty of vegetables, and we used succession planting to ensure we didn’t decrease our production.

TractorEquipment Changes & Upgrades: Thanks to the generosity of our donors we were able to make several changes to increase our farming efficiency. First, we repaired our rototiller for field maintenance, and purchased two Cub cultivators (from the 1970s!) to help us keep the weeds down. Then, we improved our irrigation in both locations: in Harvard our newly planted peaches now have a new irrigation line to match, and both our greenhouse and outdoor irrigation was automated for greater efficiency. Lastly, we purchased a chisel plow, which helps to till the fields and reduce soil compaction. These changes gave our farmers more time to spend with our volunteers, and will continue making a difference in the years ahead.

These improvements would not be possible without the hard work of our staff, volunteers, and community supporters. We are especially thankful to the following funders for their assistance in making these changes a reality:  Agnes Lindsay Charitable Trust, Amelia Peabody Charitable Foundation, Avidia Bank, Bank of America Foundation, DCU for Kids, Eastern Bank Charitable Foundation, French Family Foundation, Fuller Foundation, Hoche-Scofield Foundation, Nypro Foundation, People’s United Community Foundation, Project Bread, TJX Foundation, Tufts Neighborhood Service Fund, Worcester County Food Bank Fund to End Hunger, and the Worcester Garden Club.

Read the rest of the November Sprout!

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

Each season a number of seasonal farmers join us to help support our Volunteer Farming Program. This year’s seasonal team has proven to be exceptional, and we hope you enjoyed your time with them. Here are just a few of their highlights from the summer:

Austin Moline, Orchard Assistant

AustinAustin’s interest in farming for hunger relief began long before he started work at CHP. For some years he has been looking to get involved in the non-profit agricultural sector. Austin is particularly interested in working directly with low income populations to help facilitate community sustainability through farming. His passion for growing healthy food with the community has made him a perfect fit for CHP.

This season, Austin has been busy working on many projects at the orchard including tree trellising, weed management, equipment maintenance, harvesting, and distributing produce. He has recently been spending much of his time leading volunteer groups as we work to pick and pack the apple crop. Thank you, Austin, for your dedication this season. Your willingness to lend a hand whenever needed has been a great help at both our farms this year. We appreciate all your hard work that has helped make this apple harvest at CHP the best yet! – Susan Conant, Orchard Manager

Jennessa Piccirilli & Brandon Sills, Farm Assistants

In a year of changes, we had two farm assistants who helped us through the season and we couldn’t have done it with out them. Jenessa Piccirilli has been with us since the beginning of the season, and brings so much cheer and joy to the team. Team leaders and regular volunteers appreciate her great attitude and willingness to do whatever task is needed to make the farm run smoothly.

Brandon Sills joined us midway through the season, and was a natural fit to the team. He often accomplishes our to-do lists before we even write them down, and also brings a lot of joy and energy to the job. We are so grateful to all that our farm assistants have done. Thank you guys!   – Jen Friedlander, Farm Manager

Read the rest of the September Sprout!

Volunteers of the Month: Dell EMC

IMG_2187.JPGAs we are winding down our volunteer season we would like to give a hearty thank you to our volunteers from Dell EMC.  As is always the case this group of volunteers is with us from the beginning of our season right to the end.  In fact the last group that will volunteer in North Grafton this year is one of our regular teams from Dell EMC. Whether it be early planting in cool temperatures or bad weather, weeding or harvesting in the heat of summer, helping to pick apples or working to prepare our fields for winter these teams always answer the call for help.  Coming from all parts of their company and all over the area and beyond we are lucky to have this team on our side.  

20170913_113421It’s funny how things around here take root, at this point there are Dell EMC Team Members who return year after year and look forward to visiting our farms.  These roots run deep and our estimate for Dell EMC Team Members that volunteered with Community Harvest Project this year is 909 volunteers that served over 2,700 hours helping us grow and distribute healthy locally grown produce to those seeking hunger relief services in our community.  Individually this is powerful work but cumulatively this group of volunteers is a force to be reckoned with.

With that being said we would like to collectively thank this group of volunteers for their impact on our work.  This relationship has grown immensely over the years and we are awestruck by the level of commitment we receive from the Dell EMC Community.  So, to each and everyone of you who came out to help or coordinated a group from the office we would like to say thank you.  Thank you for all of your effort, working through the cold, rain, heat and mud and giving us your energy and drive.  We can’t do this great work without the dedication of thousands and we are humbled by the fact that you choose to work with Community Harvest Project.  Thank you Team Dell EMC, we really appreciate this partnership and are already looking forward to your visits in 2018.    

Read the rest of the October Sprout!

 

 

Make an Impact All Year-Long

TractorFarming is always unpredictable, but this year we faced some particularly challenging situations. The heavy spring rains flooded our fields, delaying our plantings. The summer sun helped make up some lost time, but the unusually cool nights set our plants back again. As a result, our harvest season began several weeks later than normal, and our farm team had to get creative when it came to keeping the plants alive and happy!

It’s these unforeseen circumstances that remind us how grateful we are to have a special group of supporters, our Monthly Givers.  Monthly donations financially prepare the farms for summers just like this one.  Peach, one of our beloved Volunteer Team Leaders and a Monthly Giver, experiences the inconsistency of working with weather and knows her monthly donations are valued throughout the year.

PeachPeach perfectly captures why monthly donations make a difference:

“Giving a little bit every month is easy and convenient for me. Just as our neighbors rely on donations of fresh fruits and vegetables, CHP counts on my donations to help the farm through lean months and periods of severe weather. Even a little means a lot.”

Now is the perfect time to join Peach and become a Monthly Giver. As a thank you for your support, we are delighted to offer the following benefits for the first time:

  • An invitation to a “Special Spring Celebration”
  • A private “Monthly Giver Pick-Your-Own Day” at our apple orchard in 2018
  • Two complimentary tickets to our Harvest Home Festival
  • Recognition in newsletter, social media and Annual Report
  • Hassle-free donations and convenient year-end tax receipt
  • Above all, your donations are helping us bring in a great harvest to feed our neighbors and communities (185,000 pounds to date!)

It only takes a small commitment from each of us to make a big difference on our farms for the year.

Become a Monthly Giver today. It’s simple, just go online to www.bit.ly/CHPMonthlyGiver.

Thank you for your generosity!

Read the rest of the October Sprout!

 

Ready, Set, Go! It’s Harvest Home Time!

HH1.jpgEVENT DETAILS:
Sunday, November 5th (rain or shine)
37 Wheeler Road, North Grafton, MA

5K Kick Off: 10:30am (pre-registration begins at 9am)
Festival: 11am – 3pm

Admission: $10, 5 & under free, $30 max per family.
All kid’s activities are FREE after entry.

Join Community Harvest Project on Sunday, November 5th for our annual Harvest Home Festival & 5K! This fall festival is the perfect way to celebrate the season (and a Patriot’s bye week!) on our beautiful farm in North Grafton.

5KThe day kicks off with a 5K trail run or one-mile walk on the beautiful Grafton Land Trust trails and is followed by our Harvest Home Festival directly across the street. There will be plenty to do for the entire family including live music from Big Jon Short and the Mill Town Rounders, a selection of local food trucks and a variety of local beers.  Your kids will enjoy our popular crafts room, shooting apples out of cannons, bouncing on inflatables and watching our pumpkin catapult contest! Don’t forget to stop by the bake sale, pick up some raffle tickets for a chance to win great prizes, or make some s’mores in the picnic grove!

AlpacaIn addition to being a wonderful fall event, all proceeds support  Community Harvest Project’s mission of building a healthy and engaged community through volunteer farming and nutrition education. This event is an important part of our fundraising plan for the year so we hope you come have some fun at our Harvest Home Festival & 5K.

REGISTER for the 5K trail race and 1 mile walk here!

For more information visit community-harvest.org/events or contact claudia@community-harvest.org.

Read the rest of the October Sprout!

 

Another Successful Season of Farm to Health

BeetsIt’s hard to believe but our harvest season is beginning to wind down. It’s a bittersweet time of year for us, and an excellent time for reflection on our partnerships. This month, we wanted to highlight one partnership in particular, the Family Health Center of Worcester. Our partnership with the Family Health Center is part of our Farm to Health Initiative, that works to pair nutrition education with our donated produce. This program is generously funded by the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Healthy Food Fund, and it’s enabled us to reach hundreds of individuals experiencing food insecurity. 

Broccoli FeaturedThis year, we once again had a very successful season of providing fresh produce to the Family Health Center. In past years, we have sent boxes of bulk produce to set up a farmers market- style distribution at the Family Health Center, but this year and last, we decided to make up family-sized shares that were pre- bagged and ready to go. These went out to various patient support groups so that physicians could educate about nutrition and healthy eating as it relates to medical treatment, and track the benefits of receiving fresh produce. The shares always included 4-6 varieties of produce including cherry tomatoes, collard greens, eggplant, peppers, squashes, and cucumbers.

We were able to engage many community members in making this program possible this year as well. Our interns prepared many of the bags, our Education Coordinator provided tastings, and our Team Leaders made the deliveries each week. It was truly a group effort, and we’re already looking forward to next year!

Read the rest of the September Sprout!