Winter on the Farm Starts Next Week

 

pizzaWinter on the Farm is next week! With all the recent snow days you may have exhausted your inside entertainment, but we have the perfect opportunity for your 4th-7th grader. Winter on the Farm is held February 21-24, 8:30am-2:30pm at 37 Wheeler Road in Grafton. Sign up is by the day, so you can pick exactly which ones work in your schedule (or all 4!). Each day we do activities that focus on exposure to new food prepared in different ways, hands-on cooking, science, and the environment. Here’s what we have in store:

On Tuesday we will be highlight stems and leaves. We’ll discuss the roles stems and leaves perform for plants, and then do a leaf tasting. From there we will make kale chips and learn the basics of salad dressing before we launch into our salad dressing lab where each camper will create their own dressing. Even though many trees are without leaves, the conifers around the farm are still nice and green. We’ll learn about conifers then go on a hike to try to identify some. Next the kids will be plant detectives. We’ll learn a few ways to identify problems with plants, then diagnose some ailing house plants. We’ll finish off the day by learning about how greenhouses work and building our own from recycled materials.

Wednesday is all about seeds. 2 special guests and registered dieticians will stop by to make no-bake protein balls. We’ll look at a variety of seeds and their characteristics and then have a seed tasting. Two seeds will be focused on to make seed dips. For our daily outdoor activity we will be learning about seed dispersal and going for a hunt for seeds outside (you’d be surprised what we can find, even now!). In the afternoon we will be learning about complete proteins (many plant based ones come from seeds) and making seed packs.

On Thursday we move underground to root of the plants. We will do our daily tasting with all roots, then talk about the importance of breakfast and make some pancakes with a surprising root vegetable ingredient. We’ll head outside to do some animal tracking then come back in for lunch. Learning about go, slow, and whoa foods will be followed by a creative endeavor featuring some great “go” foods….root vegetables!

For our last day we will learn about flowers and pollinators. We’ll making dumplings with flowers and then spend some time outside. In the afternoon we’ll create feeders for a special pollinator, the hummingbird!

There are still a few spots left in Winter on the Farm! Register by the day for $50/each, or for all 4 days for $190. You child is sure to be kept busy and entertained throughout the days, all while learning about ways to customize nutritious foods, experiencing the great outdoors, and making new friends. Register here , and for more information email tori@community-harvest.org.

Read the rest of the February Sprout!

Where Are Our Interns Now? Part II

interns-iiWe got such great feedback last month about our article on our Summer Internship Program that we figured we would continue to focus on the power of that program.  While winter seems as though it would be a quiet period here at the farm we are knee deep in planning for our 2017 Season.  A key piece of that process is to recruit for our Summer Internship Program with our college partners near and far.  There is time spent at local college recruitment events and on communication with students inquiring about spending their summer here at the farm.  Believe it or not by the end of March most students have their summer commitments in place so the next couple of weeks will be critical for our Internship Program.

We are extremely proud of the work that our interns engage in here at the farm and are even more excited when the seeds that we plant with them grow into great ideas and work after they leave us.  We thought that we would check in with a few more of our former interns and ask how the internship experience impacted them in making future decisions and updating us on what they are doing now.  The emails that we received speak for themselves and we are really proud of all of the students that we have been able to work with over the years.  We are also very proud of our ability to share the great resources of our farms to impact students, their understanding of non-profit work and how they use this learning in to make career decisions.  If you know of a college student looking for an opportunity for this summer please let them know that CHP is an option!  

Matt Moore, Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition and Policy, CHP Intern Class of 2015
Interning at CHP rounded out my food and agricultural education at graduate school by providing me with hands-on experience. Whether you’re trying to effect policy change or help someone eat healthier, it’s extremely important to consider all perspectives on food-related (or any field) issues. As an intern, I had the opportunity to plant vegetables, meet politicians, and engage with staff and volunteers from many different backgrounds. Food brings so many people together, and interning at CHP reinforced how integral it is to people’s lives, but also that there are no one-size-fits-all solutions to policy or nutritional questions. CHP certainly helped to prepare me for future work in the fields of food and nutrition. And of course, being able to literally see the fruits of your labor provides incredible motivation.

Claire Weston, Holy Cross, CHP Intern Class of 2015/2016
I am the Outreach Coordinator at a small non-profit (deja vu) called the Community Science Institute (CSI), that enlists volunteers to monitor water quality in nine different watersheds, including those that feed into Cayuga and Seneca Lake. I manage volunteers, coordinate events, create educational presentations and displays, and dabble in fundraising. From that description you can probably tell that working at CHP strongly guided my interests and influenced my projected career path. I’ve found that I have a strong desire to engage with the community in a meaningful way and I can say that, without a doubt, interning at CHP helped to cultivate that passion. Furthermore, CHP provided me with the skills needed to work effectively with large groups of volunteers and the awareness needed to guide and inspire them. As any CHP staff member can testify to, engaging the community and utilizing the passion and drive of volunteers is hard work but incredibly rewarding and of paramount importance. Finally, CHP prepared me for, and instilled in me, the desire to play an integral role as part of a small staff. I don’t fade into the background at CSI and interning at CHP made me really appreciate that. I felt valued at CHP, and so, moving forward, I have made it a point to maintain that sense of pride and importance in my work.   

Leta Branham, Clark University, CHP Intern Class of 2016 (currently studying in Senegal)
Interning at Community Harvest Project has really inspired what I want to focus my academics on. I’ve become very interested in food security and food justice, along with agriculture and issues of race. Studying in Dakar Senegal for the semester provides the perfect backdrop for all these interests to come together. While here, I’m taking classes in environment and development as well as history of the Atlantic Slave Trade. Additionally, I hope to learn about agricultural practices are here and how that relates to food justice, especially in a country where water is very scarce and expensive.

Stephanie McCulloch, Ithaca College, CHP Intern Class of 2015
During my junior year of college, I was offered an internship at two different nonprofit organizations, one of them being Community Harvest Project. At the time, I had become extremely passionate about food justice issues, and I was looking to learn more about how sustainable farming could play a role in remediating these issues.  Looking back, I know that I accepted the internship with CHP because I would truly be a part of their mission statement.

When I first started working for CHP, I did not know a lot about farming. However, within two and a half months, not only did I learn how to do everything to keep the land productive, but I became much more aware of how CHP’s work benefited the community. I believe it is CHP’s success in providing food to so many people in need that influenced me to continue on to graduate school. CHP has found a way to incorporate sustainable practices into its system while providing people with healthy food. It is the idea that all efforts to produce this food are not to make a profit, but to make a difference in a person’s life by promoting health that convinces me my efforts at Tufts can help me do the same. The incredible feelings of love, empowerment, and joy I had during my time at CHP, I hope to have again when I assist in making agriculture policy changes that benefit the health of people and the environment.

I owe a great deal to Community Harvest Project for giving me the bulk of my farming knowledge because without it, I would not understand the work involved in producing food. If I did not have this farming and educational experience, then I believe I would not be as prepared to determine what changes to the food system need to be made, from the soil plants are grown in and how the food is distributed. I have so much more to learn to make my career goals a reality, but interning for Community Harvest Project convinced me that working hard in this next life chapter will be worth it.

Read the rest of the February Sprout!

Winter at Prospect Hill Orchard

Orchard Pruning_Resized.jpgThe winter months at the orchard are busy ones.  We began pruning our roughly 3000 apples trees in the first week of January and will continue through the end of March.  It can be a daunting task but is a very satisfying one.  There is something gratifying about approaching a tree that has grown vigorously throughout the last season and carefully shaping and cutting the branches with the thought of the good fruit that is to come from your efforts.

Annual pruning is one of the most important cultural practices in apple growing for many reasons.   Probably the most obvious reason is to reduce tree size for its allotted space in the orchard. It is important to keep the aisles open for orchard equipment and easier harvesting.  We remove any large limbs first with a chainsaw.  Pruning is also used to form a strong framework that will support a heavy fruit load.  Broken, dead or diseased branches should always be removed, but the most important reason for pruning is thinning the branches so light penetrates throughout the tree.  Sunlight helps produce high quality fruit and the buds the fruit are grown from.

We have been very fortunate to have a few dedicated volunteers helping us prune.  These folks range from people who have a small orchard on their property to apples enthusiast and those who just enjoy working outdoors and wanted to learn a new skill.   If you are interested in helping us prune, we will be hosting an open volunteer day on Saturday, February  25th from 9am-12.  No experience is necessary but you will need to bring your own saw and loppers.  Click here for more information!

Read the rest of the February Sprout!

February 2017 – Recipe of the Month: Collards

collards_resizedDid you know that collard greens were among our last crops of the 2016 season? These hardy greens can survive cold temperatures, and we harvested ours right into December. Not only do we love their long growing season and versatility, but we also love the health benefits of collards – they’re high in dietary fiber and vitamins B9, C, A, and K. So this month, to ward against winter colds, we’re giving creamed collards a try!

Creamed Collard Greens

Adapted from Nourished Kitchen

  • 2 tbsp of butter
  • 1 large yellow onion, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 bunches of collard greens, stems removed and leaves chopped into ribbons
  • 1 cup of heavy cream
  • Salt and nutmeg, to taste

Melt butter in a skillet on moderate heat until it froths, then toss in the sliced yellow onion, frying in melted butter until caramelized on the edges. Add chopped collard greens to the skillet and stir until slightly wilted, about two minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low and stir in the cup of heavy cream. Simmer for five to six minutes, until the cream is largely reduced. Season with nutmeg and salt to taste, and serve hot.

Read the rest of the February Sprout!

What’s New at Winter on the Farm

dsc_0116Winter on the Farm is one month away! Our February vacation camp for 4th-7th graders takes place 2/21-2/24, from 8:30am to 2:30pm. Sign up is by the day, so you can pick the 1,2,3, or all 4 days that work best in you and your camper’s schedules. Activities are different each day, but all focus on nutrition, hands-on cooking, plants, and the environment.

Even though there will likely be snow on the ground, we’ll still go outside every day to experience the winter wonderland around the farm! There is still plenty to explore and search for, like animal tracks, evidence of seeds, and identifying the flora and fauna in our midst.

DSC_0012.JPGDuring Winter on the Farm we focus on learning, tasting, and experimentation. Knowing what foods are healthy does little use if you don’t like to eat them! So we focus on learning a few key concepts, then providing many opportunities to taste healthy foods in different forms, like raw, cooked, or in different dishes. Campers are also given the chance to develop their own creations! We might learn the basics of salad dressing or personal pizzas, then give everyone the chance to make their own. We hope this personalization and ownership of healthy food can continue at home for happy and healthy eating.

When we aren’t exploring the great outdoors or cooking up a storm, we’ll do a variety of active games and creative projects to engage all learners. Space in this program is limited, so sign up early to reserve your camper’s spot! More information and sign up on our education page. Questions? Email mailto:tori@community-harvest.org.

Read the rest of the January Sprout!

 

Top 5 Benefits of Becoming a Monthly Grower

UNUM Interns at CHP on 7.5.16

Photo by Norm Eggert Photography

Our team knows YOU are the reason CHP continues to make a wonderful impact in our community! It only takes a small commitment from each of us to make to make a big difference on our farms for the year. A monthly gift of just $5 enables CHP to provide five pairs of sturdy and safe clippers for volunteers while $25 a month supports the purchase of seeds for an entire acre of crops! Every contribution is meaningful and our Monthly Growers know the impact they have when they come together each month.

Still not convinced? Here are the top benefits Monthly Growers enjoy:

  1. Unique updates from our farms
  2. Simplified monthly budgeting
  3. Special acknowledgements in our Annual Report
  4. Hassle-free donations and a convenient year-end tax receipt
  5. Making their gift go further by streamlining the donation process and providing dependable support for CHP’s mission

Your hard work and support each season enables us to grow and donate hundreds of thousands of pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables to those who need them most. Monthly Growers allow their contributions to reflect their ongoing commitment to our mission. Spread your impact throughout the year and become a Monthly Grower today!

CHP’s Monthly Growers program is an online recurring gifts program. Members sign up online and choose their monthly donation level to be automatically charged each month. At the end on each fiscal year, Monthly Growers are sent a year-end tax receipt with each itemized donation and their cumulative gift for the year. Community Harvest Project is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization and all donations are tax-exempt to the extent permitted by law. To change or suspend your donation at any time, please contact claudia@community-harvest.org.

Read the rest of the January Sprout!

Photo by Norm Eggert Photography

2017 Summer Sustainable Farming Internship

Spend your summer at the only farm in Central Massachusetts that donates all of the fresh produce it grows to support the hunger relief network in Worcester County!  Work with a leading Central Massachusetts non-profit organization as they continue to improve operations and evaluate farm production.  Learn the basics of large scale sustainable farming and volunteer organizing while you spend your summer outdoors working with a diverse group of staff and volunteers.  Be part of the solution to hunger in Worcester County while exploring your future.

Responsibilities

Our Summer Farming Interns will participate fully in all aspects of operating a non-profit volunteer farming organization.  They will have direct hands on engagement in farming, opportunities to participate in special group projects and to assist in developing new programs/systems/ideas in order to continue CHP’s future growth.

Tasks include but not limited to:

  • Assist with farm tasks like maintenance (tending, harvesting, irrigating, mowing, etc.) and lead diverse groups of volunteer farmers in daily operational activities at our farms in North Grafton, MA
  • Assist with maintaining a positive volunteer experience for all who visit the farm
  • Complete projects in specific areas of interest (Marketing and Outreach, Education, Agriculture, Environmental Sciences, Nutrition, Non-Profit Management, etc.)
  • Other tasks as needed

Requirements, qualified applicants will:

  • Have interest and/or some experience in farming or gardening
  • Be an excellent communicator and be able to demonstrate previous leadership responsibility
  • Be able to lift farm equipment and/or produce weighing up to 50 pounds
  • Be prepared for work in outdoor weather conditions, we operate rain or shine
  • Work within a team or independently, be self-motivated, with great attention to detail
  • Have reliable transportation
  • Be available for 40 hours per week, June through August, working primarily morning hours with an occasional late afternoon/early evening or Saturday

Community Harvest Project (CHP), a 501(c)3 organization, is dedicated to improving access to healthy foods through community engagement.  Through their volunteer farming, education, and volunteer programs and partnerships, they bring thousands of community members together each year to build an engaged and healthier Worcester County.  In 2016 working together with over 9,800 volunteers they produced significant fresh produce resources for individuals and families in need throughout our community who otherwise may not have had access.  The produce is donated through numerous partner organizations such as The Worcester County Food Bank, Community Servings Jeremiah’s Inn and The Hector Reyes House.  CHP operates at Brigham Hill Community Farm and White’s Farm in North Grafton, MA and at Prospect Hill Farm in Harvard, MA.

For more information about their programs and impact, please visit www.community-harvest.org.

Contact

To apply send letter of interest and resume via e-mail to Wayne McAuliffe, Volunteer Program Manager, at wayne@community-harvest.org

Looking Forward to Summer and Our 2017 Intern Program

dsc_0012jpgIt goes without saying that from the time we begin planting seeds in later winter/early spring until the time we get our last crops out of the fields and get the farm ready for winter rest, this is a busy place.  One question that we often get asked is what do we do in the winter months.  From a volunteer standpoint this is one of the busiest times of the year as we prepare our programming, materials and recruiting for the needs of a new year.  On top of beginning to schedule the thousands of volunteers that we will have coming out to do the work of the farm this time is particularly important in recruiting for our Summer Intern Program.  As students begin to return to school after their long winter breaks they begin to focus on planning their summer months to explore opportunities and apply more learning to their future.

It seems funny that we are thinking about our summer intern program this early in the year doesn’t it?  The fact that we have been focused on this important part of our operation led to an interesting discussion over lunch last week.  We thought that we would check in with a few of our former interns and ask how the internship experience impacted them in making future decisions.  The emails that we received speak for themselves and we are really proud of all of the students that we have been able to work with over the years.  We are also very proud of our ability to share the great resources of our farms to impact students, their understanding of non-profit work and their futures.  If you know of a college student looking for an opportunity for this summer please let them know that CHP is an option!

Alex Cohen, CHP Intern Class of 2014, Clark University

Interning with CHP provided me with hands-on experience in both the nonprofit and environmental justice worlds. I had the opportunity and the pleasure of working with other employees as well as volunteers on something bigger than ourselves. I was also able to build relationships with other interns living and going to school in Worcester who I wouldn’t have known otherwise. Even though my summer internship was almost three years ago, I talked to one of the other interns as recently as last week, which I think speaks to the culture that CHP cultivates and their emphasis on people to people interaction. Because of the versatility of CHP’s internship program, I was able to farm and do research for them, which are now two things that I care about and continue to advocate for. CHP opened the door to food and environmental related policy work, which is a topic I am planning on pursuing during graduate school.

Tyler Buckhout, CHP Intern Class of 2015/16, College of the Holy Cross

In the summer of 2015, I spent most of my days serving as a college intern at Community Harvest Project with my friends and peers, teaching volunteers how to grow fresh produce, and helping to foster the community that is so vital to the project. I learned what it meant to work hard, engage with others professionally, and develop communal relations. Due to that experience, I started asking how I could get more involved in food justice and service work. I could not find a solution in many of the mainstream avenues of business or finance. So, after college I wanted to do more for CHP than just intern. Having a foundation set in community engagement and volunteer farming, I accepted a role as Partnership Fellow serving CHP through AmeriCorps VISTA. I had to come back.

My new position keeps that ethic of hard work, professionalism, and community engagement. The internship, volunteer experience, and staff provide the fabric which holds those values close to Community Harvest Project’s whole organization. Without those pieces, I would miss out on the opportunity to learn and grow in a place deeply committed to serving others with food and community. And with those pieces, my future will be devoted to impactful work and service.

Claudia Frazer, CHP Intern Class of 2014, Clark University

My experience as the Development Intern at CHP provided me the opportunity to explore my interest in non-profit management while working on a beautiful farm. I spent the summer with one hand in the dirt and the other in the office – two roles I am lucky to maintain today. When the internship ended and I graduated from college, I joined the AmeriCorps VISTA program and served as the Fundraising and Events Coordinator at CHP. Today, I am still involved with the organization, working as the Development and Events Coordinator as a staff member. Each step I take at CHP is an incredible learning experience which allows me to grow both professionally and personally. From the first day of my internship, CHP has inspired me to harness the power of community, planting seeds of positive change wherever I go.

Joel Simonson, CHP Class of 2015, Clark University

Interning with CHP during the summer of 2015 absolutely had a direct impact on my desire to pursue nonprofit work, specifically involving access to healthy food. I am currently an employee of Lovin’ Spoonfuls, a Boston-based food rescue nonprofit that facilitates same-day collection and distribution of fresh food from groceries and a variety of additional vendors, and this would not have been possible without my experience at CHP.

CHP is driven by an inspirational mission, and while utilizing community volunteers and partnerships, the organization brings thousands of people together each year to grow fruits and vegetables to provide for those experiencing hunger. As a result, I was constantly interacting with community members of all backgrounds as a Sustainable Farm Intern. This influenced my desire to work for Lovin’ Spoonfuls, and I firmly believe I am better equipped for my current role as many of my daily responsibilities mirror those that I practiced while interning at CHP.

Read the rest of the January Sprout!

January 2017 – Recipe of the Month: Garlic

 

garlic

Roasted garlic is one of those wonderful recipes where the execution is easy and the results are astounding. This recipe deepens the unique flavor of this allium, while also removing some of the intensity of raw garlic. With this recipe you can eat the roasted garlic as is for a quick snack, or add your results to any dish that calls for garlic.

Whole Roasted Garlic

Adapted from Froment Free

  • One whole head of garlic
  • California olive oil
  • Aluminum foil
  • Small pan for roasting

Preheat your oven to 350F. Prepare the garlic by cutting off the top of the head, so that all cloves are exposed and their tops are cut off. Take your cut head and place it in the center of a sheet of aluminium foil, cut side up. Drizzle olive oil on top of the garlic, until all gaps are filled. Then wrap the aluminum up around the head until it is completely covered. Place in your pan and roast for approximately 1 hour. Let cool in the foil for 10 minutes, and let cool for another 10 minutes outside of the foil. Peel the garlic so each clove falls from the head. Then either eat your garlic as is, or add it to your next dish!

Read the rest of the January Sprout!