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.

Farm and Flower Update

flowersWe are reaching our busiest part of our season here at the farm! Every day now we are harvesting, washing, packing and donating hundreds of pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables to our hunger relief partners with the help of our incredible volunteers. So far, we have harvested over 17,000 pounds of produce. That translates into about 80,000 servings of healthy foods that are now available to those in our community experiencing hunger and we are just getting started! We have been harvesting broccoli, cabbage, zucchini, collards, cucumbers, kale, lettuce and many more while we wait patiently for our carrots, eggplants, leeks, okra and bell peppers to be ready for harvesting.

In addition to our fresh produce, our flower field is filling back up with beautiful, ready to pick sunflowers, zinnias and amaranth! Come pick your own bouquet or pick up one of our gorgeous pre-made bouquets. Pick your own hours are 8am-8pm and open seven days a week. Flowers are $1 per stem and pre-made bouquets are $10. It’s the perfect time to come out to our beautiful field, takes some photos (holiday cards! back to school! engagement! anniversary!) and pick some flowers. All proceeds will go to support our mission of hunger relief in Massachusetts. Get all the details and spread the word here.

Read the rest of the August Sprout here!

Top photo by Norm Eggert.

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Where Does Our Produce Go?

IMG_20190806_121241897We’re so grateful for the opportunity to spend our days as we do: enjoying the breeze on a warm day, listening to the chatter of birds, carefully tending rows of veggie plants, and working alongside new and old friends in the fields.  All of these bright points culminate as the fruits of our hard work begin rolling out the door.  At CHP, we work with more than 16 different community partners to ensure that the food we produce is distributed to folks throughout our community that need it.  These partners range from food banks and soup kitchens to addiction recovery programs and health centers.  Many of the partners whom we serve work toward missions of their own which often address a range of issues to which hunger and food access are undercurrents.  These progressive organizations and individuals recognize the power of healthy, fresh food to cure a wide swath of challenges faced by many of our neighbors every day.

Since 2014 Community Harvest Project has been partnering with The Family Health Center of Worcester.  As a federally qualified health center serving inner-city Worcester, FHCW provides care to patients who often lack affordable access to fresh, healthy produce which is often recommended by their healthcare providers.  Program Director Dr. Melanie Gnazzo notes “When asked, patients responded that ease of access and cost were major obstacles to purchasing produce.”  

IMG_20190806_121226313Each week, CHP volunteers and staff harvest, coordinate, and deliver family-sized shares of mixed farm-fresh produce to FHCW patients participating in group-medical visits focusing on specific health conditions and needs.  Building these shares is a great and fulfilling opportunity for our staff and volunteers to consider each recipient family and the variety of produce that will contribute to a full and satisfying offering each week.   

Dr. Gnazzo continues, “Our patients look forward to the produce each week.  They comment on their favorites as well as the new produce they have tried.  We are so grateful to have a community partner like the Community Harvest Project!!!”  We, in turn, are grateful to partner with such a valuable community organization like The Family Health Center of Worcester and look forward to many more abundant years to come.

Read the rest of the August Sprout here!

Harvest Home 5K Registration is Open!

5KRegistration for our annual Harvest Home 5K is now open! Secure your spot in our awesome trail run and plan to spend Sunday November 3rd with us as we celebrate another year of volunteer farming for hunger relief. In addition to our 5K we will have food trucks, beer, apple cannons, kids activities and more! Admission for the Festival is included in the price of race registration. Those not participating in our 5K or fun run can purchase admission for our Harvest Home Fall Festival online or at the door for $10 per adult or $30 for the whole family (family passes are only available at the door). All proceeds from this event will go towards of our mission of providing hunger relief to our community.

Read the rest of the August Sprout here!

Volunteer of the Month: Summer Youth Groups

07.19.2019-ynia-2.jpgOne of the most interesting pieces of the work that we undertake in supporting area hunger relief is bringing a diverse community of volunteers together in order to do the work of our farms. When people come together with their hands in the dirt or over a plant as they weed or harvest there is a greater sense of community and interesting conversation that takes place. With the slower pace of a farm everyone has the opportunity to learn more about farming and hunger relief as well as each other.  Over the summer months we have the opportunity to engage youth groups from near and far in our efforts and always marvel at the community that comes out to support Community Harvest Project year in and year out. We are lucky to have such a loyal and committed following and feel honored that many programs trust our ability to provide a healthy and engaging environment for their groups.  

This month we would like to thank all of our summer youth groups that continue to visit us and help with the summer work of the farm. Whether they come for a day, two days or even spend the entire week with us these groups all are key partners in helping us to have a successful summer. This year we saw teams from all over Massachusetts., Connecticut, Michigan, Washington, Canada and from as far away as Sweden and Hungary. All of them came together to learn about food, hunger relief and community.  They all have left a mark on us and on their efforts have helped to make an impact on the hunger relief partners that rely on Community Harvest Project as a resource for fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables.  

Please join us in thanking and congratulating these teams for a job well done. This years’ programs included Young Neighbors in Action, St. Johns High Senior Leaders, Whitinsville Serve, CSAW from Millbury, Westborough Recreation, You Inc. Career Pathways, Operation Friendship of Grafton and United Way’s Summer Teen Program.  We applaud them for their service to community and for their work in engaging youth by helping to build community. Thank you all for effort on behalf of Community Harvest Project, we appreciate all that you do.

Read the rest of the August Sprout here!

What’s Cooking: Pesto Pasta Salad

What's cooking

Pesto is summer turned into a perfect sauce. In our July cooking classes we picked herbs and greens to make an easy pasta dish you can enjoy hot or cold at a picnic. This easy vegan recipe is packed with vegetables and whole grains to please and nourish.

Our September classes return to the after-school times, but we will still be harvesting from the learning garden for each class! We hope your child can join us to learn about delicious whole grains or make veggie burgers.

Broccoli Head Chefs (9-12 year olds)

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

Celery Sous Chefs (5-8 year olds)

Whole Grain Goodness – Tuesday, September 17th, 2019, 4-5pm

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

Pesto Pasta Salad with Kale

  • 1 lb whole wheat penne pasta
  • 1 bunch kale, stems removed and ripped into small pieces

Pesto Ingredients

  • 3 cups washed herbs and greens, such as basil, cilantro, parsley, chives, kale, or spinach
  • 1 garlic clove
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup shelled sunflower seeds or nuts such as pecans, walnuts, pine nuts, or almonds
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest (the yellow from the outside of the lemon)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon salt

For the pesto: Puree all ingredients in a food processor.

Put pasta in boiling, salted water. Cook for 6-8 minutes, until not quite done. Toss pasta and kale with pesto and serve!

Read the rest of the August Sprout here!

The Perfect Summer Weekend

sunflower 4Come join us for a weekend perfect for the whole family at our second annual “Carolyn’s Garden” Sunflower Festival on Saturday August 3rd and Sunday August 4th from 10am to 3pm. The weekend will be featuring our gorgeous sunflower field that will be open for all ages to explore and pick your own flowers from and will serve as a great background for your summer photos. Pack a lunch or grab a bite to eat from a food truck and enjoy a picnic complete with fun lawn games, crafts and activities for the kids, and ice cream!sunflower 3

Tickets for the event are $10 per adult and include 5 sunflowers. Additional sunflowers, as well as zinnias and amaranth can be purchased for $1 each. Adult tickets do not include kids’ activities, but a $5 Kids Pass will be available for purchase the day of the event. Kid Passes do not include picked flowers, but they can be purchased separately. Kids under 3 are free. Adult tickets can be purchased ahead of time here.

Read the rest of the July Sprout here!

Photos by Norm Eggert Photography.

Our Intern’s Experiences

Our summer interns have already been at our farm and orchard for a month! Since they see so many aspects of the farm, we asked them to tell us about their experienced so far. If you need a refresher on who is interning with us this year, you can read about them here.

Grafton Farm Interns (Maggie, Ellen, and Gabby)

farm photoAs we move further into July, the farm is transitioning from tending season to harvesting season. We are all very excited about the progress on the farm, especially the interns! Most of us haven’t had the pleasure of experiencing the harvesting process here at CHP. Recently, with the help of our volunteers, we harvested cases of lettuce, kale, and collard greens that were distributed to the Worcester County Food Bank. During our tour of the food bank, we even got to see the greens that we harvested separated out on pallets to be distributed to folks in the area. Spending the summer as an intern at CHP is really rewarding and we’ve been learning so much with the help of the staff and regular team leaders that come in each week. It’s been incredibly uplifting to witness each stage the vegetables go through, from planting, tending, and then setting up irrigation, to now harvesting. Also, seeing volunteers return excited to get to tend to the crops that they planted is so awesome!! What was really surprising to us was seeing how involved the volunteers really are in everything we do on the farm. They are absolutely vital in the operation here at CHP and we are feeling very grateful for the amount of people that are involved.

Harvard Orchard Interns (Josh and Carly)

orchard photoIn our time at the Orchard, we have been doing the out-of-season maintenance that is required to produce the apples that CHP distributes every year. The orchard is 75 acres, so there is quite a bit of work that must be done in order to ensure the quality and health of our apple trees. One of our biggest projects has been painting the trunks of the apple trees white to protect them from sun damage in the winter. In the winter, the tree trunks are so much darker than the snow, that they get burned in the sun, which can kill them. We have also spent a lot of time replacing mouse guards, small wire cages that are wrapped around the tree trunks to prevent mouse damage to the bark. These tasks seem tedious, but are crucial to the growth of the trees, and they ensure apples will continue to thrive year after year. In addition to maintaining the apple trees, we have done some general upkeep work around the orchard, such as clearing plant growth from the fences and breaking down an unused greenhouse, which opens up more land to be utilized by CHP in the future. 

Some of the biggest surprises have been realizing just how much work goes into growing just one crop and how much labor goes into the food I eat that I don’t think about. Additionally, it has been eye opening to learn just how much science is used in farming.

Read the rest of the July Sprout here!

We need you!

TeamLeader.MikeBenSarkis.6.19.2015Have you been thinking about volunteering and getting involved in your community?  Do you have strong communication and leadership skills? Would you like to support hunger relief efforts while spending time in the great outdoors? Does leading diverse groups of volunteers in farm activities sound of interest? Would you consider volunteering in a key position at Community Harvest Project as a Volunteer Team Leader? If so, we need you!  

We are actively seeking engaging, active individuals to help us “cultivate community” and help to organize and lead our daily work with volunteer groups. We host groups of all ages and backgrounds in daily farm activity and the Volunteer Team Leader position is the key to our success. You would join a very active and engaged group of Volunteer Team Leaders that have made Community Harvest Project the dynamic organization that it is today. The commitment is as much or as little as you would like it to be. We will work to train you and get you ready for the role, but we guarantee that you will have a great experience as part of our team. We have opportunities at both our North Grafton farms (April through October) and our Harvard orchard (September/October).    

Come join our community in supporting local hunger relief through volunteer farming.  Please share this widely with anyone that you may think is interested, bring a friend and come join our team. For more information please visit the volunteer page on our website or email the Community Harvest Project team at volunteer@community-harvest.org

Read the rest of the July Sprout here!

Volunteer of the Month: Access TCA

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This month we would like to recognize the entire team from Access TCA for their continuing support and partnership of the Community Harvest Projects mission.  This creative and spirited team holds their annual volunteer visit at our Grafton farm and we are very lucky to have them on our side. Just a few short weeks ago their visit coincided with our first push on tending (read as weeding) at the farm.  Not being afraid of a difficult task this team jumped right in and really did impressive work in our fields. They left us with almost four of our fields completely weeded and with the second stage of plant growth in a much better place now that those pesky weeds were out of their way.   What’s even more impressive is that they approached the task of the day with amazing team work and had fun while they were here.  

Not wanting to stop their work with a one day visit however this team continues to find creative ways to support the mission and help us do better work presenting ourselves to the outside world.  Their creativity in marketing, design and fabrication is taking shape this year on several fronts. Their design team has been instrumental in helping to “cultivate community” with support on t-shirt design work, signage throughout the farm and materials to help market our upcoming Sunflower Festival.  Their fabrication team has been hard at work helping to update our learning garden, provide benches for our volunteers to enjoy the landscape and signage to help us get our message out. We can not say enough about how much we appreciate their support and also how lucky we feel to be able to work with this great team.  

Please join us in a round of applause and a heartfelt thank you to our friends at Access TCA.  It takes a community to do the work of volunteer farming to support hunger relief and we truly appreciate all of their work on our behalf.  

Read the rest of the July Sprout here!