June 2016 Meet our Intern Crop!


We are so excited to have this group of interns on the farm their summer, sharing their passions and making the farm an even more fun place to be. We asked each of them to share what brought them to CHP and what their experience has been so far.

Jenny“My name is Jenny Rubin and I’m a rising junior at Clark University, though I’m originally from Baltimore, MD. I’m majoring in International Development and Social Change and I have a minor in Sociology. I’m interested in going into community development work and non-profits, so working at CHP is a great introduction to that field! CHP is such a unique organization because it incorporates so many different aspects of community growth and health under one roof. It’s been incredibly rewarding watching volunteers, of all ages and walks of life, come together to work for an incredibly important cause, and I’m looking forward to meeting members of the groups that CHP donates to (like the Worcester County Food Bank) and seeing the impact on the other end. One of the most poignant moments for me so far was when a fourth grade student turned to his friends who were complaining about being hungry and said, ‘The more time we spend not eating lunch, we get to spend planting lunch for other people.’ It’s small moments like these that show what an impact Community Harvest Project’s mission has on people who volunteer, even for a short while.”

leta“My name is Leta Branham and I’m originally from Dallas, Texas. I’m currently a rising junior studying Geography and International Development and Social Change at Clark University. I am very interested in community outreach and love seeing how agriculture and farming can lead to community and social development. Working with Community Harvest Project is my first introduction to farming, however I have discovered a passion that I hope to pursue in both my studies and my extracurriculars. Working as an intern at Community Harvest Project has been incredibly rewarding. It is the best feeling to look around and see all that has been accomplished and the impact the organization has on the community that surrounds it. Not only does Community Harvest Project impact the lives of those that receive the produce from our farm, but since working at Community Harvest Project I have seen students’ -as well as my own- eyes light up after discovering interest in farming and planting. The volunteers and staff are not only full of knowledge and wisdom, but genuinely care about every person that passes through the farm.”

DaniMy name is Dani Rossignol, I’m from Warren, Massachusetts, and I’m a super senior studying Biology at Becker College. I enjoy working hard and being able to see the impact that a small group of people can have on such a large community. Working at Community Harvest Project has shown me that anyone can help make a difference in the realm of hunger relief. Interning at Community Harvest Project has to be one of the best ways to spend a summer as a college student. Each day brings new tasks to learn and accomplish, there is never a sense of repeating the same tasks day-in and day-out, and there is nothing like having a beautiful piece of farmland as the daily view. There is a feeling of belonging at CHP that I felt immediately after walking onto the property, each and every staff member makes you feel welcome and as if you have been a part of the team since the day that the project started. The best feelings that I have felt working at CHP would be the sense of accomplishment and success that is felt while putting in the hard work to plant, maintain, and harvest the crops, and also the happiness that is shared every day amongst the volunteers and the staff members working to solve the hunger problem in the Worcester county. I have personally learned an abundance of knowledge about farming and solving hunger problems that I am looking forward to utilizing daily in my life.”

jane“My name is Jane McGrail and I am from Leicester, Massachusetts. I am a rising senior at the College of the Holy Cross where I study English and Philosophy. I love to be outside working hard and I think that it is vital to encourage everybody to love spending time outdoors starting at a young age so I am very passionate about the work that Community Harvest Project does. I have already learned so much about farming, and about myself, and I am eager to experience all that my internship will continue to teach me. This is such a wonderful way for me to spend my summer! Since beginning my internship at Community Harvest Project I have woken up every morning excited to go to work to see what the day has in store for me, and every single day I have learned something new. The volunteers and staff foster a spirit of  kindness and enthusiasm that makes every task on the farm – from washing gloves, to hanging blueberry netting, to leading a group of volunteers in the field – feel like an exciting new adventure. I love how the farm serves the community dually by providing food to people who are experiencing hunger and by giving volunteers the opportunity to spend time outside in an environment that makes farming extremely accessible to a wide range of people. Community Harvest Project is a loving place that makes everybody feel welcome, valued, and eager to come back!”

grace“My name is Grace Beck and I’m from Stratford, Connecticut. I’m a rising senior at College of the Atlantic – a small college on an island in Maine where I major in Human Ecology. I’ve been studying agriculture, theatre, literature, and anthropology/ethnography. I also work on one of COA’s farms – Beech Hill Farm, which primarily grows vegetables and apple trees and raises pigs in the summer months. Working at CHP has helped expand my love of farming towards social change – similarly to Beech Hill’s ‘Share the Harvest’ program – but on a much larger scale. I’m so happy to work at a place where I can do what I love and make a huge impact while doing it! Working with CHP has helped me to rethink my perspectives on agriculture – especially with regards to education. Every day is something new – new volunteers, new groups helping out, new tasks to be done – and all of it is so wonderful and exciting! The team leaders and staff members are so passionate about what they do and it becomes infectious in the groups they lead. Seeing the excitement from the kids who come in for their school field trips early in the summer has been amazing – it’s great to see how they light up when they learn where food comes from (or that broccoli doesn’t grow on trees!) I love waking up, going to work, and knowing that the food we’re growing isn’t going to go to waste. Everyone here has been so welcoming and friendly – especially the volunteers, I think it takes a special kind of place to get people coming back to volunteer time and time again – and CHP is definitely that kind. One moment that really punctuated this for me was receiving a bunch of handmade cards from a fourth grade class that I had helped transplant kabocha squash the week prior thanking us (me and one of our team leaders, Jim) for helping them plant and saying they hoped we continued to help the lives of others. I’m so incredibly lucky and proud to be working here!”

claire“My name is Claire Jordy from Taos, NM. I am a rising senior at Dickinson College in PA where I am majoring in Environmental Studies. Many facets of the environmental realm interest me but community work and sustainable agriculture are two of those things. Recently, my focus of interest has been apple-related. Lucky for me, Community Harvest Project had an intern position available in their newly acquired apple orchard. My internship at CHP’s orchard thus far has been everything I imagined and more! The hands-on training is incredibly valuable to me; I couldn’t have learned this day-to-day information of orchard management from a book if I tried. Although we don’t have many volunteers and educational programs at the orchard yet, we still interact and consult with community members daily. Observing these interactions between the orchard manager and other pros in the field has taught me how important community connections and collaborative work is to any project. Everyone has something to offer, whether it is skill, knowledge, humor, or muscle – it takes a village to grow some apples! CHP has been an amazing place to spend my summer, and I am looking forward to my continued learning in the CHP orchard and related field trip locations.”

Next time you volunteer at the farm or orchard, make sure to stop by and say hi to our hard-working interns!

Read the rest of the June 2016 Sprout!

June 2016 Summer on the Farm

summer on the farm.PNGThis summer marks the fourth year of our camp, Summer on the Farm. Summer on the Farm was the first education program we offered, and that first year we started with just a trial week of 3 students. From that first summer it has grown every year in the number of campers and range of activities that we do. The ethos is still the same: give kids a stimulating and unique experience on our farm, while constantly learning about agriculture, nutrition, health, and the environment – without everything feeling like a lesson. We spend almost the whole day outside (weather permitting).

summer 4The only activities we repeat daily are volunteering on the farm and hands on cooking. Even though these are a part of the daily schedule, they are never the same. The farm task can rotate from harvesting different vegetables, to washing, sorting, or packaging produce, making boxes, or even cleaning buckets (which is a welcome water activity in the summer heat!).  Each day for the cooking activity we survey the learning garden, find what is ripest, and then learn how to pick it. Then we practice our knife skills to make simple dishes like tomato salsa, or salad with homemade dressing.

summer 3The rest of the day is spent in a mix of activities. There could be a lesson about pH and an experiment testing different household ingredients to see if they are acidic or basic. We could learn about all the different uses for herbs and then plant our own herb garden to take home. After a lesson about seed dispersal, we might create our own seeds. Or we could go on a hike and search for different flora and fauna that are most active in summer.

Summer on the Farm is an immersive experience that capitalizes on the best experiences and lessons of the season. This year we are running camp for two weeks. The first, August 8-12, is for students entering 2nd-6th grades. The second week, August 15-19, is for students entering 4th-8th grades. The activities will be different across weeks and age groups. To sign up and for a sample schedule please visit www.community-harvest.org/camp or email tori@community-harvest.org with additional questions.

Read the rest of the June 2016 Sprout!

June 2016 Local Students Magnify their Impact

DSC_0102Here at Community Harvest Project we know it only takes one person to make a difference. We also see the incredible impact made when many people come together. This month these sentiments were illustrated by two exceptionally dedicated groups. Mill Pond School 6th graders in Westborough, MA and North Street Elementary School students in Grafton, MA. Mill Pond and North Street students are frequent volunteers at our farms, helping us plant, harvest, wash and pack the fresh fruits and vegetables we grow for hunger relief. The students at these schools are so committed to helping their community that they came together and raised money to donate to CHP!

Mill Pond School raised over $3,400 for Community Harvest Project during a 6th grade Read-a-Thon where family, friends, and faculty sponsored students to read through their list of books. Mill Pond School has been doing this for several years now and raised and donated over $2,500 last year as well. Thank you Mill Pond students for loving to read and choosing to donate the money you raised to CHP!

North Street Elementary School students collected over $630 worth of dimes for our Dimes-for-Dinners fundraiser. This is the largest one time donation CHP has received for our Dimes-for-Dinners fundraiser! This fundraiser makes us realize how much every dime counts and what a great contribution elementary students can make by searching through the family car and deep in the couch cushions! Thank you North Street for this gigantic contribution to our Dimes-for-Dinners fundraiser.

Each year we see thousands of individuals volunteering side by side as an engaged community, learning and growing together. We are so appreciative of all of this work that gets done by volunteers and also of the behind the scenes donors who make our operations possible. Thank you Mill Pond School and North Street Elementary for making these very special donations. Thank you to all of our donors, who appreciate the importance of continuing their engagement after they leave the farm by contributing to Community Harvest Project. We couldn’t do it without you!

Read the rest of the June 2016 Sprout!

June 2016 Volunteer of the Month

Douglas High School National Honor Society and Dudley Middle School National Junior Honor SocietyVOTM

As everyone already knows New England has a long history of farming traditions. Some of the earliest cultivated crops in the Americas were actually grown right on this hill by the Hassanamisco Nipmucs. With that in mind we here at Community Harvest Project really enjoy when we can cultivate traditions of our own. Whether it is a repeat visit of a school group, the comradery that our interns create over the summer months or hosting two great events annually we really like our traditions here on the farm.

This months “Volunteer of the Month” is actually two groups that we have cultivated tradition with, so much so that they now are a key part of our Plantapalooza Event. The Douglas High School National Honor Society and the Dudley Middle School National Junior Honor Society have been regular volunteers for the past several years. In their roles at our Plantapalooza Event these students can be found helping our supporters carry plants to the checkout area, staffing checkout, helping people put their plants in their vehicles and other assorted tasks. If that is not enough for one day they also rotate through planting in the fields and help us with a smooth and seamless cleanup. All of this hard work is done with great energy and enthusiasm as they connect their work to the cause of helping neighbors in need. With their all in approach they help us to ensure a great experience for everyone that visits the farm that day. We received numerous accolades from both volunteers and shoppers about what a great team we have working and supporting the event. With their effort year in year out we have been able to continue to grow Plantapalooza into the area’s biggest and best plant sale.

So for our Volunteer of the Month we would like to applaud and thank the amazing students from the Douglas High School National Honor Society and the Dudley Middle School National Junior Honor Society for all of their efforts. In addition, none of this would be possible without great teachers leading the charge. Thanks to Todd Babola from Douglas High and Kelly Bonner from Dudley Middle School for making this all happen.    The continuing support and outstanding service of these students, parents and staff to Community Harvest Project is greatly appreciated!

Read the rest of the June 2016 Sprout!

June 2016 Veggie of the Month

Collard Greens

collards.PNGOur June Veggie of the Month is collards! These hearty greens are among the first of our crops transplanted into the fields, along with other plants in the brassica family such as broccoli and different cabbage varieties. Brassicas can withstand much lower temperatures than the likes of the nightshade family (tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, etc) so they are a perfect candidate to go in the ground in early May. This also means that they are our first crops ready to be picked! We will be picking a few for a small distribution this week, and then starting to pick them in earnest next week.

The benefit to planting collards does not just come with their early harvest date. Not only are they easy to grow, but you can harvest leaves from the same plant repeatedly like you can with kale. The plant will continue to produce new leaves throughout the summer and into the fall.

Collards are a great source of vitamin C, soluble fiber, vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin K, vitamin B1, potassium, calcium, iron, and omega-3 fatty acids. While they are crammed with vitamins, collards don’t have as strong of a flavor as some of their kin like kale, so they are a good beginner green. The age of the leaves does not affect flavor, but older leaves are tougher and should be cooked for longer. Though in the traditional Southern way they are braised for a long time, collards are also a great and fresh tasting green when cooked just briefly or eaten raw. Collards are also used in many other cuisines, such as those of Africa, India, Egypt, Spain and Pakistan. They are spiced with many different flavorings not limited to garlic, ginger, chiles, coconut, turmeric, coriander and cardamom. Since collard leaves are large and sturdy they also make excellent wraps (see our Pinterest board for a few recipes!). Don’t be scared by the seemingly odd addition of peanut butter in this recipe, it makes for a great peanut sauce and will quickly convert collard skeptics!

Collards with Peanut Butter

20150714_185029.jpgRecipe from Vegetal Matters. Serves 4-6.

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon minced ginger
  • 1 lb collards, washed, large stems removed, and roughly chopped
  • ¼ cup vegetable stock or water
  • 3 tablespoons peanut butter (or other nut butter, or tahini)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice

Heat the oil in a large deep skillet or pot with a lid over medium heat. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for 3 minutes until it is slightly colored and fragrant. Add the collards, stock/water, peanut butter, salt, and pepper. Cover and cook until they are wilted, about 5 minutes. Uncover, and cook at a low bubble for 5 minutes more. If the pan looks dry add more stock/water, but you want to have a thicker sauce. Finish with the lime juice and serve as a side or over brown rice.

Read the rest of the June 2016 Sprout!