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!

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Introducing Jen!

Jen_CroppedII-262x262@2xFor those of you who’ve worked with our previous Farm Manager, Bill Harris, you may have noticed that he wasn’t around the farm as much this summer. This year, Bill has slowly ended his time at CHP so he can pursue a lifelong dream of opening a woodshop. While we’re going to miss Bill’s expertise and stories, we are thrilled to introduce our new Farm Manager, Jen Friedlander!

As a student at Middlebury College, Jen found herself falling in love with farming. Over the past several years she has worked on research and community farms, and most recently at Hidden Villa, a nonprofit that works with volunteers just like Community Harvest Project. To get to know Jen better, see what she had to say when we interviewed her after her first few days here in North Grafton.

Why did you choose to come to CHP?
The farm manager position at CHP was a right place at the right time fit for me–I just moved to Boston from San Francisco and knew I wanted to continue farming and growing my skill set as an organic vegetable farmer. CHP will allow me to farm in a new climate, on new land, with new people. Furthermore, some of the most rewarding work  for me has been giving food to those in need, so the mission of CHP is a great fit.
What are you tackling in your first weeks here?
In my first weeks I’ve been getting a better understanding of the growing practices and volunteer programs currently in place, and have already started formulating a work plan for the 2018 season. Also, I’m getting to know all of my new co-workers to build a foundation for my time at CHP.
What skills and experiences are you bringing to CHP that will help in your position?
I have worked on various non-profit farms prior to CHP. In Louisville, Kentucky I worked with a youth apprentice group in the fields as well as conducted various farm to table cooking and nutrition programs for school groups. I then went on to build a research farm for the University of Nevada, Reno where we grew experimental vegetables for the freshman dining hall. For the past two years I worked at a small scale organic vegetable farm in the South Bay of San Francisco, where I learned everything from seed to harvest, to market, about growing vegetables in a “beyond organic” way. I am passionate about being an environmentally conscious steward of the land and hope to bring some of those ideas and experiences to CHP.
When you’re not at the barn, what activities do you enjoy?
I love running, biking, hiking, swimming, being outside…and eating!
What’s your favorite vegetable? How do you like to cook it?
My favorite vegetable changes all of the time, but I think an underappreciated staple in my life is lettuce. It is the vehicle for SO many great dishes and when eaten fresh, is incredibly flavorful and almost buttery. My favorite way to use lettuce is in the spring, when its really tender, mix it with a strawberry balsamic dressing and some fennel.
You can contact Jen at jen@community-harvest.org, or stop by the barn to say hello!

 

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Lunch & Learn Success

LL2Community Harvest Project recently celebrated its inaugural Lunch & Learn, a special event to learn more about our work, with distinguished members from the community including Congressman Jim McGovern. Other speakers shared their moving stories about the meaningful impact we make together as community partners. Lunch, provided by Flying Rhino, was delicious and culminated with a tour of the farm in full swing! It was an excellent day of learning how we can create healthy and engaged communities together with local companies and businesses.

If your company missed the Lunch & Learn, there are still opportunities  to engage your company with Community Harvest Project this season:

  • Nominate CHP to receive Community Grants or Year End contributions from your company
  • Schedule a tour for your Community Engagement Manager to learn how partnering with us creates a healthy community to live and work in
  • Sponsor and attend our Harvest Home Festival and 5K, our biggest fundraiser of the year 
  • Providing professional services or in kind donations
  • Encourage your employees to utilize your company’s matching gift or payroll deduction programs
  • Save your place on our 2018 volunteering schedule!

To thank you for your support, we can:

  • Guarantee that your employees will leave smiling and raving about their experience of making an impact in the lives of individuals and families
  • Expose your team to a healthy lifestyle, connect with nature and get a little dirty
  • Grow and donate over 220,000 pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables to create healthy options for those who need them most.

So are you ready to make a lasting impact?

Support at any level helps contribute to the ongoing success of CHP’s hunger relief efforts.  Please contact Carolyn Ambrose at 774-545-5409 or email at carolyn@community-harvest.org to discuss ways we can continue to partner together. 

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Summertime Reflections

9 (21).PNG“Over the course of this internship, I learned more than I ever thought I would. I learned many valuable skills ranging from public speaking, to leadership in a group, leadership on my own, and how to take initiative. I also learned that I love being outdoors, meeting new people each day, and being part of the work a non profit accomplished.” – 2017 Summer Intern

It has been a month since our 2017 Summer Sustainable Farming Interns finished, but we still miss them! It helps to read through the surveys they submitted at the end of their internship to tell us what they really loved and learn what we can improve for next summer (though we may not be able to prevent the sock tans). The internship had many different components to appeal to varied interests and skill sets. We even passed along some lessons we didn’t know we would, like the benefits of waking up at the same time.

3 (1).JPGThe interns met with each staff member throughout the summer for an informational interview to understand each person’s background and job composition. “The staff chats taught me a lot about how different career paths can be and how the inner workings of a non-profit are run.”

After their chat with our Executive Director, Cordie, the group became interested in grant writing, so they worked together to write and submit a grant. “Compared to a grant writing class, this was real experience in refining applicable grant writing skills and ultimately submitting a working grant application. I am so grateful for that opportunity!” We’re still waiting to hear if we will receive the grant, but the benefit of this experience to our interns far outweighs any monetary gain.

7 (7)Twice a month they had a nutrition lesson with Tori, our Education Coordinator. They learned about fats, carbs, and protein, picking the healthiest options for each, and cooking easy, healthy meals. “I’m interested in nutrition and taking care of myself, as well as trying new and creative foods, and the sessions served as little reminders of healthy habits.” Using fresh produce from the learning garden they made fried brown rice with vegetables, noodles with tahini sauce and cucumbers, pesto, fresh rolls, and hummus.

“I learned a lot about how a non-profit works and engages with the community. It was really interesting to learn how to engage with all types of community members and to learn about how CHP impacts the larger community as well. I may want to work at a non-profit in the future so I found this to be a great first experience.” Our goal was to expose our interns to farming, many different people, and the non-profit world. We hope they take their experience at CHP to inform a future in nonprofit work, and of course, come back to visit us regularly.

If this sounds like an experience that you would like to have in summer of 2018, please email wayne@community-harvest.org to learn more.

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