What’s Cooking: Beta Carotene

carrotsOur October cooking classes were bittersweet because they were the last ones we spent in the garden. Even though most of the garden was put to bed, we still harvested kale, carrots, beets, dill, sage, cilantro, and parsley. In our apple cooking classes we used local apples for an apple tasting and then the Celery Sous Chefs (5-8 year olds) made baked apple oatmeal and apple slices topped with their choice of toppings including sun butter, coconut flakes, dried fruit, and mini chocolate chips. The Broccoli Head Chefs (9-12 year olds) made the same baked oatmeal, plus a raw apple crisp and a kale salad with apples and beets.

Our Halloween classes featured beta carotene. Both ages learned about the health benefits of this vibrant pigment that can be found in carrots, pumpkin, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, and cantaloupe (and other plants too!). It helps our eyes be able to see (but doesn’t improve vision), helps with growth and development, and supports a healthy immune system. The Celery Sous Chef classes made two festive dips: a pumpkin white bean dip and a black bean dip. The Broccoli Head Chef class made both of those dips plus a roasted butternut squash, apple and leek soup, and a grated carrot salad.

This carrot salad does take a bit of work grating, but it was a big hit! The kids wear a pair of these gloves while grating as extra protection against cuts.

Our cooking classes are almost done for the year, but a few are still open! The 2019 schedule will be posted in December.

Broccoli Head Chefs (9-12 year olds)

Magic Eggs – Tuesday, November 27th, 2018, 3:30-5:30pm

It’s a Party! – Monday, December 10th, 2018, 3:30-5:30pm

Shredded Carrot Salad

Recipe adapted from My Paris Kitchen: Recipes and Stories by David Leibovitz

  • 2 pounds carrots
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • Juice from 1 lemon (about 3 tablespoons)
  • 3 tablespoons chopped herbs such as parsley or chives

Using the large holes of a box grater (or using a food processor), grate the carrots.

In a mixing bowl whisk together the olive oil, salt, mustard, sugar, and lemon juice. Toss the grated carrots in the dressing with the chopped herbs.

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Harvest Home Festival and 5K 2018

5kCommunity Harvest Project’s Harvest Home Festival & 5K was Sunday, November 4th and once again it was a HUGE success! The day started with the annual 5K with over 200 runners and walkers that ran the new course through our fields and Grafton Land Trust trails.

The weather was perfect for all our outdoor activities. The kid’s interactive area entertained all ages with a petting zoo, alpacas, CHP hay wagon story time by Grafton Public Library and sing-a-longs.

The grove was bustling with activity lead by Mark from JAM DJ Events who provided music and enhanced the vibe in the grove. Anzio’s Wood Fired Pizza and Say Cheese food trucks served up lunch, and the CHP bake sale had hot homemade soup, delicious cookies, breads, donuts, and not to mention yummy warm apple crisp made by Blackstone Valley Tech with ice cream.

hh1Meanwhile in the barn, the kids craft area and Happy Face Painting were bustling with kids having a blast making sun catchers, spin art, and duct tape wallets to name a few crafts. Our raffle tables had several baskets filled with gift certificates from local vendors and beautiful quilts were available as well!

Back outside, kids (and adults) line up to shoot the apple cannon; this activity always thrills the kids and the audience. The pumpkin trebuchet competition was a huge hit with attendees cheering on the teams working the catapults and sending pumpkins up to 500 feet across our fields. In the afternoon, Big John Short played for several hours by the campfire while everyone had homemade s’mores.

CHP would like to thank the community and all the 150 volunteers for coming out and supporting our mission.  All proceeds from Harvest Home support our hunger relief efforts. We hope you can join us next year on November 3rd, 2019!

Cover crop for healthy soil

covercrop1

Vetch (L) and winter rye (R)

A question we hear a lot here on the farm is “What goes on here all winter?”.  The answer is quite a bit actually! To be sure, just as each year’s field work and clean-up are being finished in the fall, a great deal of planning and preparation is beginning to get ready for the following year. From seed schedules and planting maps to equipment maintenance and supply ordering, many moving parts come together to prepare for a successful growing season at Community Harvest Project. Even during all of this planning and preparation, the farm fields are hard at work as well.

covercrop2

Vetch and winter rye being mixed and inoculated for better germination. 

Our final fall clean-up step in the field is to plant cover crops everywhere that we cultivated during the course of the previous season. A cover crop is an intentionally-planted vegetative “cover” for the exposed soil left behind after all the vegetables have been harvested from the field. This soil is often drained of much of its nutritional content by the season’s crops. When exposed, it is also in danger of springtime erosion as winter snows begin to melt and water runs its course. Here at CHP we plant a mixture of winter rye and vetch during the autumn months. Winter rye grows quickly, is frost tolerant, and establishes strong, complex root systems which hold valuable organic soil in place and help to keep unwanted weeds at bay. Vetch is a legume which, like most bean plants, has the amazing ability to return depleted nitrogen back into the soil. Nitrogen is one of a plant’s most important sources of nutrition. Vetch also produces beautiful, purple flower clusters which are a favorite among many of our most common pollinators.

covercrop3.jpgWhen spring returns, we mow the cover crops to the ground and plow the organic material into the soil. This returns all of the nutrients that the plants absorbed during the fall months. The added benefit is that this process also incorporates a wealth of vegetative, organic material directly back into the ground, thus continuing to build on our beautiful and rich topsoil. Even when the veggies aren’t growing, the farm is working to be ready for many more seasons ahead.

One Step Further Campaign

eggplantThanks to the hard work of our volunteers, over 60,000 food insecure community members received fresh, nutritious produce this summer. Everyday your work helped food insecure individuals live healthy lives.

Hunger is an ongoing issue that does not end just because the summer does, which is why our work never stops and we continue to take steps to ensure that every neighbor has access to the food they need. Nevertheless, we can’t do it without your help.

Today, we are embarking on our One Step Further Campaign and we are beyond excited to share that your donation today will have double the impact, thanks to a generous match! Major General (US Army, Retired) Robert and Karen Catalanotti, Assumption College Trustee and Community Harvest Project Team Leader, respectively, is proud and honored to support our hunger relief efforts this year. The first donations up to $10,000 will be matched dollar by dollar, to make their impact go even further.

Would you be willing to join us  and take your passion one step further to make a donation of $25, $50, or $100 to feed more individuals and families in need? Please join us today by making a donation! Your support will make a real, lasting impact in the lives of food insecure community members.

Thank you!

Volunteer of the Month: Produce Delivery Team Leaders

10.03.2018.Chris Howe.Partner DeliveryIf you know Community Harvest Project, you also know that we rely heavily on our Volunteer Team Leaders to make our operations run smoothly and efficiently on a daily basis. This hearty team of dedicated volunteers is the face of our organization and they always are available to answer a call for help. Fast forward to late spring when we began to have conversations with some of our smaller partners about their weekly pick ups at the farm. Our friends at Loaves and Fishes in Devens, and Visitation House and Family Health Center in Worcester had some specific challenges in their operations that would prevent them from picking up their weekly allotment of fresh produce. After some brainstorming we decided to reach out to our Team Leaders to see if any of them would be willing to help. Challenge solved.

This month we would like to thank our incredibly dedicated Volunteer Team Leader delivery crew that made sure thousands of pounds of fresh healthy produce made it out to our partners. By loading up their personal vehicles and driving hundreds of miles over the past few months this team continued to show what’s best about the Community Harvest Project Team. Thank you to Chris Howe, Linda McPherson, Peach Warren, Russ Anderson and David Small for quite literally going the extra mile to ensure that our partner agencies clients received the bounty of the work that they help facilitate here in our fields.  

To Chris, Linda, Peach, Russ and David we want to say thank you for your amazing commitment to our mission and your drive to help our community.  We appreciate all that you have done in order to make sure those seeking hunger relief had the opportunity to access fresh produce grown on our farms.  Thanks for being part of our team!