Volunteer of the Month: Community Servings

Community Servings 07.13.2018Sometimes the best solutions to a challenge that you may be facing can be solved by speaking to others and exploring different approaches with unique solutions.  That is exactly how our relationship with Community Servings began several years ago. Our executive director happened to be at an event and had the great fortune to run into David Waters from Community Servings.  One question about what we were doing with produce that could not be sent out due to imperfections or small bruises led us into a relationship that continues to grow. Last year we sent over 24,000 lbs. out to their kitchen to be processed and utilized in the medically tailored meals that are delivered direct to the door of clients with critical illnesses throughout the community.  These highly nutritious and appealing meals are a bright spot during difficult times for the families in Worcester, Leominster and Fitchburg that receive meals from Community Servings that contain produce grown at Community Harvest Projects farms.

The entire team over at Community Servings has seen our produce arriving weekly and marveled at how the team there is able to incorporate it into the meals they have planned.  They have seen coolers filled with marinara sauce made from a shipment of tomatoes coming from our farm or how their kitchen team uses green tomatoes in soups and salsas. What they had not all experienced however was a visit out to our farm to see our operation in progress.  That was of course until we planted the seed a few years back about bringing the entire Community Servings Team out for a visit to our farm. On a beautiful Friday a week ago the team visited and got to see where and how the vegetables that are used in their kitchen are grown.  

This month we would like to celebrate the entire team that makes up Community Servings.  Not just for coming out to learn more about us, or for the 100 lbs. of blueberries that they picked, or the weed wrangling that they completed in 2.5 rows of cabbage or the 79 boxes that two members of their team assembled while visiting.  We would like to celebrate Community Servings for by the impressive work that they do on a daily basis providing over 675,000 medically tailored meals to over 2,000 critically ill individuals and their families throughout our community annually.  Thanks to you all for the work that you do on behalf of our community.

 

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Our Sunflower Festival is Almost Here!

Sunflower FestWhere else can you enjoy a perfect summer day and help support hunger relief efforts all year? Grab your friends and family and join us for our first Sunflower Festival at Community Harvest Project!

Wander through our sunflower maze, take some beautiful pictures, pack a picnic lunch (or visit the Food Trucks), play corn hole, indulge in a cool treat from the ice cream truck or just relax an in our picnic grove.  For $5 your kids can have a blast participating in fun, creative activities in the Learning Garden and around the farm!

Come on out rain or shine, Saturday and Sunday, July 28th & 29th from 10:00am – 4:00pm. Admissions is $10 for Adults and includes five flower cuttings from our gorgeous zinnia or sunflower fields!

Tickets can be purchased at the farm or you can buy them online from our website through Eventbrite at: http://bit.ly/CHPSunflowerFest

Generously sponsored by:

Country Bank_TransparentHomefield_TransparentCroppedOsterman_TransparentWegmans_Transparent

 

 

 

A Summer Update from the Farm

IMG-0213.JPGThings on the farm are starting to come into full swing, despite our later start in the fields! We have already harvested blueberries, green beans, zucchini, summer squash, and lettuce and each week a few new items are added to that list. We look forward to the days of a cooler full of colorful pallets of fresh produce. As always, us farmers are doing our best to keep on top of the pest situation, and keep all the plants watered and happy during the last couple weeks of extreme heat.

One of our new crops this year, lettuce, has been a real all-star. Beautiful heads of Red Sails and Buttercrunch lettuce were our earliest harvest, and we expect several more rounds of lettuce throughout the season. Summer ball summer squash and eight ball zucchini have also been an awesome addition to harvest, coming in early and strong. We have staggered our plantings of summer squash and zucchini in hopes of extending the usual tidal wave of squashes that usually overwhelms us during July.

Many visitors on the farm may see the farmers running all over the property, but not always know what it is they’re up to. In addition to the routine tasks of planting, weeding, and harvesting that our volunteers assist with, every day is filled with interesting challenges and unexpected issues that arise, as on any farm. An irrigation leak, a broken mower, or a sudden arrival of pests can change the whole day in the blink of an eye, and it is part of what makes farming so exciting and full of variety. To deal with pests that arise, the farmers use Integrated Pest Management, or IPM, which is a system to reduce the amount of spray we are using in the fields. We routinely scout for pests, make note of the damage and pressure, and only spray when necessary to protect the crops. We are also trying new methods of pest prevention including row covers and trap crops. Although we have learned some lessons of how to better use row covers for next season, they proved to be successful at excluding flea beetles in the majority of rows we tried. It is exciting to think of using some of these methods in the future to further reduce spraying.

To see the harvest, observe more about our farming methods, and just enjoy a day in the great outdoors, come stop by during drop in hours! We’d love to see you.

What’s Cooking: Eat Green!

whats cookingOur June theme was green foods. June is high time for greens in the garden. We have two kinds of kale (curly and Red Russian), rainbow chard, collards, lettuce, and spinach, plus baby beets and radishes which you can eat the greens of! This class started (as the rest of our summer classes will) harvesting from the garden to cook with. Many of the kids expressed that was their favorite part of the class, and we’re so excited to harvest the tomatoes, cucumbers, summer squash, green beans, beets, carrots and herbs for classes as the summer goes on.

As a bit different way to eat our greens we had them in falafel! Falafel is a chickpea fritter that is usually fried, but we baked ours in the oven. The kids especially loved using the microplane to zest the lemon and forming the falafel balls. Once cooked you can eat them straight (like a chicken nugget, but so much healthier!), on a salad, or in a sandwich.

Green Falafel

Adapted from:

https://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/green-falafel-bowl-recipe.html

Green falafel:

  • 1 pound / 16 ounces spinach or kale, washed, trimmed, cooked, and finely chopped (frozen and defrosted is fine)
  • 2 eggs
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup cooked chickpeas
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup / 20g grated Parmesan
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • zest of one lemon

Preheat the oven to 450°F.

Combine the eggs, garlic, chickpeas, breadcrumbs, cheese, baking powder, and salt in a blender or food processor. Blend until combined. Transfer to a large bowl, add the lemon zest and chopped spinach, and stir until uniform.

With your hands, form the mixture into small, 1 1/2-inch balls. You should end up with 20-30-ish balls. Place on a baking sheet, smush them down a bit, and put in the oven for 20 minutes or so, until very golden, flipping once along the way.