Meet Cordie!

unnamedWe are so excited to welcome our new Executive Director, Cordelia Lyon! Cordie joined CHP in time to see harvest in full swing in Grafton and the apple season get underway in Harvard. Now that she’s had some time to get settled, she answered a few questions for us to get to know her better.

Why did you choose to come to CHP?

I grew up in rural Vermont and learned early in my professional career that I wanted to be involved in farming and the outdoors. I’m not a grower (I don’t think I can keep a cactus alive) but I do have a number of skills that fit very well in nonprofit agriculture. I was really impressed with CHP in particular not only because of how much food CHP produces for donation, but that we do so using volunteer power. Having a community that strong and that dedicated is unique, and I immediately wanted to be a part of it. When I then volunteered at CHP over the summer, and had a fantastic morning picking blueberries, I was sold – CHP was where I wanted to be. And now I am!

What are you tackling in your first weeks here?

I’ve had a busy few weeks really diving into anything and everything CHP. Of course I’m getting to know the fantastic staff and Board here at CHP and meeting as many community members as I can. I recently completed my Team Leader training, so I can learn more about our volunteer program, farming practices, and keep my hands dirty. Fundraising is an important piece of my work, and I’ve of course dived right in there. And since I arrived as the season begins to wind down I’m also tackling our planning for 2017.

What skills and experiences are you bringing to CHP that will help in your position?

I have a varied background that will serve me well at CHP. I previously worked on a similarly sized nonprofit farm, and that experience really prepared me for becoming the Executive Director at CHP. I’m used to going from the fields to a desk to an event and more! Additionally, I have experience in development work, marketing and communications, strategic planning, operations, and financial management.

What are you most excited to do as Executive Director?

CHP has experienced tremendous growth over the past few years. What I’m most excited about is charting CHP’s course for the future; taking that growth and refining it, sustaining it, and building upon it. With a community this engaged and vibrant, there are endless possibilities. It’s a strategic planner’s dream!

What is your favorite farm task?

I really like transplanting in the spring. Getting into a rhythm, planting seedling after seedling, while it’s not hot out yet? That to me makes a great morning. I also really enjoy seeding, and being sure to get the precise number of seeds in each tray. Can you tell I like the details?

When you’re not at the barn, what activities do you enjoy?

Like most of the team at CHP, I love to spend time in the kitchen, baking savory goodies. I recently bought a 101-year old farmhouse that I’ve slowly been renovating with my partner. I love to read, paint ceramics, and spend as much time as possible with animals!

What’s your favorite vegetable? How do you like to cook it?

Cabbage! It’s underrated, so delicious, and endlessly usable. My two favorite ways to prepare it are in a nice big pot of colcannon in the winter, or sauteed with kohlrabi in the summer.

Read the rest of the September 2016 Sprout!

Photo by Norm Eggert Photography.

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Girl Scouts accomplish more together

girl-scouts

In the past we’ve worked with many Eagle Scouts and Girl Scouts completing large projects to earn their awards. They’ve constructed a pump house, picnic tables, learning garden signs, vertical garden, trellis, and many more things that have been incredibly beneficial. It is always wonderful to see the scouts talents and creativity emerge as they complete their projects. This year we very pleasantly surprised when not just one scout approached us with a project idea, but a whole troop!

Since January Harvard Girl Scout Cadet Troop 30892 have been hard at work on their project at Prospect Hill Farm in Harvard. They brainstormed with our Orchard Manager, Susan, to come up with a list of project that would benefit the farm. They created a cable access video to promote CHP, made row markers to make it easy to navigate the orchard, donated apples to Kylee’s Kare Kits for Kids, created a kids activity, and hosted an open house for the community.

You can watch the cable access video they created to get a better sense of what we do at Prospect Hill Farm and how you can become more involved!

row-signs

A huge part of the project they undertook was created color coded row markers for the orchard. There are 30 acres of apple trees, which are in multiple sections and many rows per section. The scouts created a numbered and color coded sign for the end of each row, so now it is incredibly easy for staff to keep track of where we are picking and direct volunteers to the appropriate place.

Kylee’s Kare Kits for Kids is a non-profit started by Kylee when she was just 10 years old to provide food for children in need over the weekend when they do not have access to meals at school. Janice Kennedy, one of the troop’s leaders, is a doctor that practices in Leominster which is how they first heard about Kylee.  The girl scouts thought that it would be great to tie in a gift of apples to this amazing program started by a young girl similar in age to themselves.

The group created a whole packet of kids activities for the orchard to use, and then hosted an open house to the community. They had family apple picking, a scavenger hunt, face painting, apple activities, games and a photo area for kids to take farm pictures.

Projects like this give us the chance to improve our farms and become better known in the community so that we can grow more high quality fruits and vegetables to donate to those experiencing hunger. Thank you Harvard Girl Scout Cadet Troop 30892 for dedicating your time and talents to CHP in such creative ways!

Read the rest of the September 2016 Sprout!

The power of community

Blueberries.pngOur harvest is winding down, and it’s been quite the season! Thousands of community members have been volunteering at our North Grafton and Harvard farms. Because of you, Community Harvest Project now supplies 44% of the fresh produce received at the Worcester County Food Bank. Whether it’s starting seeds, tending the fields, pruning trees, harvesting and washing the crops, volunteers are doing it all. With your help, fresh fruits and vegetables are being donated to over 100,000 people living in Worcester Country who experience hunger and food insecurity.

This year we are on track to host over 11,000 volunteers, from pre-K to seniors, faith groups to corporate workers, people with individualized needs to seasoned farmers. It only takes one person to make a difference but when people come together at our farms, we are reminded of the power of community and how much more we can accomplish together.

Contribute to our Appeal and help us provide our volunteers important supplies such as clippers, produce baskets, apple bags and so much more. 

Thank you for your help and support.  We couldn’t do it without you!

Read the rest of the September 2016 Sprout!

September 2016 – Volunteer of the Month

annika-and-nellWe have been fortunate to work with a series of incredible UMASS Medical Students to implement the Farm to Health Initiative at the Family Health Center of Worcester since 2014. At Family Health Center of Worcester, 90% of patients are low income and over 40% identified as food insecure. Our participant groups included: Adult Diabetes Groups, Prenatal Groups, and a group of families interested in participating in programming to combat youth obesity. Different from previous years, the distribution was able to operate out of a meeting room within the health center, and served exclusively populations who were participating in the above-mentioned groups. Beyond distributing produce, this year’s program emphasized the role of produce as a tool for patients to increase their consumption of fruits and vegetables, and thereby achieve their health goals.

This year, Annika Bannon and Nell Pinkston led the charge. The star students developed and administered patient surveys to gauge baseline data. They were involved in the early stages of planning this year’s programming, which was drastically different – more personalized – from any previous year. They trained with Cooking Matters to be able to assist with the class subsequently offered at the Family Health Center of Worcester. Once the distribution started and Cooking Matters classes were still operating, that meant that the students were involved in the program each Wednesday from 8:30am in the morning to roughly 8:00pm, with some breaks in between. They were instrumental in facilitating the new program model, which focused on serving small groups and getting to know individuals within those small groups. Annika and Nell made personal phone calls to remind each patient about the program each week, a recommended practice in the field, and enjoyed building relationships with the patients who received the fresh vegetable shares through home delivery. Their calm personalities and strong focus helped patients easily build trust with them. The students diligently tracked participation, maintaining thorough notes from week to week, so that when it comes time to look back on what happened, we have data, not doubts.

As in the past, UMASS Medical School paid the two students to devote their summers, June through early August, to the project. However, just like the medical students before them, Annika and Nell didn’t stop their involvement in early August. Despite resuming their academic obligations, they both continued to make time to call patients weekly to remind them about the distribution, communicate with providers in the health center who led each health group, deliver shares to patient homes, and weigh in on the end of season logistics. They went above and beyond what we had expected of them, and we are truly grateful for their help in making this year’s program a success!

Both students said they really enjoyed getting to know the patients we worked with this summer – especially through the home visits. They shared a story about one of the 11 year old students who participated in the Cooking Matters cooking classes at Family Health Center of Worcester. This young student has been prepping food for meals and cooking at home ever since she started the classes – and even as of a month later! Each week, she proudly invited the UMass Medical School students helping out to see what she has made in the fridge. These relationships came to mean so much to Annika and Nell, who we could easily see, are going to make wonderfully compassionate and grounded doctors. We will miss them, and wish them the absolute best in their studies!

Read the rest of the September 2016 Sprout!

September 2016 – Veggie of the Month

cubanelle-and-bellCubanelle peppers are our delicious vegetable of the month! They are also known as Italian frying peppers and Cuban peppers. They grow to be about 7 inches long and can turn from yellow-green to a well-ripened bright red. Whether this pepper is picked in the color of green or red it is sweet as can be. With this sweetness it makes for a great snack or addition to any meal. A few enjoyable ways to prepare this pepper are raw (eaten as is, in a salad, or with some dip), grilled (seasoned or sprinkled with olive oil), and sautéed (toss in an omelet or with some brown rice).

This smaller pepper is currently growing in popularity due to its bright colors and nutritional qualities but are commonly be found in Slavic, Spanish, Italian, Puerto Rican, and Dominican cuisines. CHP has worked with Frank Mangan at UMass Stockbridge, who focuses on growing crops popular with immigrant communities and recommended this variety for us to grow and donate.

The nutritional benefits to Cubanelle peppers are almost identical to those of bell peppers. With its red and green colors the peppers supply vitamins A, C, K, B1, B6, and folate; all of which play some type of role in our immune systems to keep our eyes, skin, and bones healthy. Low on vitamin C? Just one cup of Cubanelle peppers can provide you with 200% of the Recommended Daily Amount of vitamin C! That’s amazing! Another nutritional benefit these peppers provide is the mineral potassium which supports proper function of cells and organs by conducting “electricity” though the body.

Source.

Grilled Chicken Kabobs: (serves 3- 4)

Adapted from: http: //glitterandgoulash.com/grilled-chicken-kabobs/

  • 8 Cubanelle peppers
  • ½ yellow onion
  • 1 small zucchini
  • ¼ pineapple
  • 2 chicken breasts
  • ½ bottle of Italian dressing

Begin by cutting the chicken into large cubs and place into a bowl. Then pour Italian dressing over the chicken and leave in refrigerator for 30-60 minutes. While waiting slice the peppers, onions, zucchini, and pineapple into pieces the size of the end of a fork. After the chicken is done marinating begin to skewer the vegetables, fruit, and chicken in alteration. When done start the grill and heat to medium setting, as soon as it comes to temperature place skewers on the grill and cook for 10, or until the juices of the chicken run clear when cut. Enjoy!

Read the rest of the September 2016 Sprout!