Get in the giving spirit

#GivingTuesday is coming up on November 29th ! We hope everyone takes a moment on #GivingTuesday to appreciate the tremendous generosity in our communities and across the world. At Community Harvest Project, we see kindness everyday through the actions and stories of our volunteers, supporters, staff, and board members. We hope you see this spirit of compassion and that together we can continue to face challenges with community solutions.

This year, CHP’s #GivingTuesday campaign offers our supporters the opportunity to share their donation as a gift to their family and friends. By donating to our Gift Catalog, supporters can designate their gifts to importance expenses that keep our volunteer farming and nutrition education programs running. Donate today to help jump start our #GivingTuesday campaign by choosing a gift that resonates with you!

Last year, more than 45,000 organizations in 71 countries came together to celebrate #GivingTuesday.  Since its founding in 2012, #GivingTuesday has inspired giving around the world, resulting in greater donations, volunteer hours, and activities that bring about real change in communities. Community Harvest Project is excited to partner with organizations from around the world. Join us today to become part of the healthy solution to hunger in our community and to show support for #GivingTuesday, a global day dedicated to giving back.

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WPI students dive deep at CHP

wpi-students

This fall, we are so fortunate to be hosting a team of 4 fantastic students from WPI that are completing their Interactive Qualifying Project (IQP) with us. Our fantastic team of four and their respective majors are: Abigail (Abby) Hanson (biomedical engineering), Rose Gougian (chemical engineering), Seungjoon (Peter) Lee (biomedical engineering), and Garrett Peters (civil engineering). Their involvement with various aspects of the food system, including from volunteering at soup kitchens, churches, community service projects, and an on-campus food activism group, inspired each of them to select us as their project site.

The goal of their project here is to gather information from and about similar organizations regionally and nationally to identify strategies that CHP can use and learn from. Their focus areas for strategies include volunteer farming, food distribution, education programming, and financial support. This team is hard at work interviewing organizations near and far, from Gaining Ground Concord, MA to the Arizona County Food Bank, who has a wealth of nutrition education and community engagement programs. While they are seeing themes arise throughout their interviews and conversations, they are also seeing just how different each farm and organization is in their programs and approach. Simultaneously, they have been hard at work creating our Giving Tuesday video.

To share a bit more about their research and experience here, We turned the tables and asked them a few questions! Here are the results.

Their favorite interview so far: The team agrees “that America’s Grow A Row has been our favorite interview. We loved talking with Chip (the founder) and hearing about the story on how it became an organization and how much passion he has for it.”

Their favorite thing about spending their project at CHP: They cite the CHP team’s passion.  “Being around people that are so enthusiastic about what they do and seeing the dedication towards hunger relief and bringing communities together is motivating for our project.”

Their biggest learning so far: The team notes that learning all of the details that support an organization’s operation has been quite a process. It also sounds like they are already carrying these learnings with them when not working on their project. Garrett said that he heard about a food hub on the radio and prior to the project, he wouldn’t have thought twice about it, but when he heard it recently, it made him contemplate all of the factors and details that would go into it to be successful.

We marvel daily at this team’s dedication to the project at hand, working diligently and thoroughly to produce the best results they possibly can. The team will be completing their project for mid-December: we are eagerly awaiting their findings and so grateful for their help!

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Harvest Home

startDid you have a chance to join us at our 2016 Harvest Home Festival & 5K? We hope you did because it was an amazing day of fall family fun! In case you missed the festivities, we had over 285 walkers and runners participate in our 5K trail race on the beautiful Grafton Land Trust trails (race results here). All runners received our revamped shirts (new color and design!), which are now for sale at the barn for $15 a t-shirt. After the 5K, over 1,600 community members joined CHP at our Harvest Home Festival across the street.

picnicOur Harvest Home Festival had many highlights including the great food, beer and music. We were joined by great performers such as Big Jon Short, The Mill Town Rounders, Matt Genese, and Chuck and Mud! Chuck and Mud invited a very special guest up to sing with them which we will be rewatching all year. On the back fields an exciting pumpkin trebuchet competition took place (learn more about those teams as they are the Volunteers of the Month!). Four different trebuchets were hurling pumpkins in the sky throughout the day, some went over 450ft horizontally and 150ft into the air! There are videos of these very impressive contraptions on our Youtube page. As always the hay wagon ride offered a great view of both the pumpkin competition and apple cannons.

If you didn’t make Harvest Home this year, we hope you can join us next fall (mark your calendars from November 4th!). The Harvest Home Festival & 5K is an event intended to bring the community together at our farm. While it offers a variety of activities, the day serves as a celebration of the seasons harvest and all of the work dedicated to growing fresh fruits and vegetables for donation. Harvest Home also serves as a fundraiser for CHP to raise money to support the upcoming growing season. Thank you for supporting us at Harvest Home this year! All proceeds support our mission of creating healthy and engaged communities through volunteer farming and education.

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November 2016 – Volunteer of the Month

Waters Trebuchet Team

waters.PNG

This month we have a lot to celebrate after a historically successful Harvest Home Festival and 5K and our Volunteers of the Month have a direct relationship to that day. We are always amazed when our calls for help get answered and Jim McPherson answered the original call some five or so years ago. We wanted to liven up our annual Harvest Home Festival with some pumpkin trebuchets. The thought of pumpkins flying through the sky and crashing to the ground really had us excited and fit right into our family friendly event. Jim and his family took on the challenge and designed and built the first trebuchet used here at CHP. Fast forward four years later and Jim’s colleague Michael Fogwill happened to see the Jim and his trebuchet in action last year and that got his wheels spinning. They both worked at Waters Corporation in Milford and thought that this could become a team competition between their two departments. Both Jim and Michael came to the farm through other dedicated volunteers – their wives are regular Team Leaders here. It’s funny how you can connect the dots at the farm and get everyone involved with their unique talents.

Fast forward to the end of August 2016 and things really heated up. Jim, Michael, and their respective teams began designing and building two pretty spectacular trebuchets with the November 6th date as their focus. Lots of weekends and late afternoons were spent by both of the teams as the dream began to come to fruition with the building process. There was plenty of camaraderie and even friendly challenging between the two teams as they went into test mode. One took the path of size and mass to do the job and the other took the path of proven success from years past. They created so much excitement that two team members even engaged their younger children in building two smaller machines. In the end everyone won with a spectacular day of pumpkin chucking and quite a draw for one and all as everyone watched in awe as these teams machines operated flawlessly again and again.

So please join us in thanking and congratulating Jim, Michael, and their respective teams for all that they did to help make our Harvest Home Event a success. The excitement and energy that they helped to create for our visitors as they arrived to the sight of pumpkins flying in an arc so high that they could be seen from the road was amazing. Their commitment was obvious from the outset but they stayed through and saw the job completely done as they disassembled their machines and put them away for storage until next year.  They truly embodied the spirit of our volunteers and we could not have done it without them. Thanks, Jim, Michael, and the entire Waters Trebuchet Team!

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November 2016 – Veggie of the Month

onionsThis month’s Veggie is the humble onion. Rarely does it get to be the star of the show, but a long and slow cooking soup is where it really proves its worth. With all the hands on cooking for the holidays, it is nice to have a dish that has few ingredients and comes together quickly. Onions benefit gut health, and are also a great source of Vitamin C, fiber, and folic acid. They are also a great supplier of Quercetin, an antioxidant that helps protect against the effects of various types of cancer and other disorders such as breast and gastric cancers and cataracts.  An easy soup chock full of an ingredient so good for us is easy to get behind!

French onion soup
Serves 6

3 tablespoons of butter
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
5 sweet onions (4 pounds), sliced thinly
½ teaspoon sugar
3 tablespoons flour
2 quarts of beef broth
Kosher salt
Pepper to taste
5 sprigs parsley
3 sprigs thyme
1 bay leaf
8 ounces Gruyère cheese, shredded
2 ounces Parmesan cheese, shredded
1 loaf crusty bread

Melt butter and oil in a large pot. Add sliced onions one large handful at a time. After each layer, sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Let the onions sweat undisturbed (no stirring) at medium heat for 20 minutes, then add the sugar. Stir occasionally until the onions are uniformly brown, about 45 minutes to an hour. Make sure the heat is on medium; if it is too low the onions will reduce but not brown correctly.

Once the onions are a lovely, rich brown, sprinkle in three tablespoons of flour, mix in with the onions, and cook for three minutes. Tie the parsley, thyme, and bay together with kitchen twine to make a bouquet garni. Add the broth and the bouquet garni to the pot. Stir and scrape up any onion bits stuck to the bottom. Simmer partially covered for an hour. Remove and discard the garni. Add pepper, then taste and adjust seasonings if needed. The soup should taste rich and complex, not like hot broth with lots of onions.

To serve, slice the crusty bread into rounds about ½ inch thick (enough to cover the top of the soup, so adjust how many slices based on the top surface area of your bowls and how many people you are serving). Put the bread on a baking sheet and place on the rack six inches from the broiler for 1-2 minutes. Place oven-proof soup bowls on that same baking sheet, then ladle in hot soup, leaving about one-inch at the top free. Place croutons toasted side down in the soup and sprinkle liberally with a mixture of the shredded cheeses. Put the pan back under the broiler and watch very attentively for about three minutes until the cheese is bubbling aggressively. Remove and serve with multiple warnings about bowl temperature.

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