Volunteers of the Month: Access TCA

DSC_0066We have been very fortunate over the past three years to host the Access TCA Volunteer Day here at Community Harvest Project. They are a large exhibit and event marketing company based right here in the Blackstone Valley in Whitinsville.  This team of volunteers always comes out with great spirit and energy to help their community.  Their creative approach and considerable amount of effort in planning for the day and even doing advance work to prepare is greatly appreciated.  This year they were able to help us with a list of projects around the farm that we would not otherwise be able to complete.  

They spent their day on the farm  trellising cucumbers, replanting eggplant that was washed out by flooding, twining tomatoes, weeding, and cleaning out the small greenhouse.  Because of them the thousands of volunteers that visit our North Grafton farms will have access to a picnic grove of new and newly repaired and painted tables.  They also helped us with some major repairs on the barn deck, making it safer for all of our visitors.  Their gift and talent of the addition of passive education signs will come to life around the farm in the coming months. This project would not have been possible without their expertise and the design execution of Eric Anderson.  In visiting the barn you may notice that we have new graphics in the back of the great room and on the hallway walls.  With innovative techniques they were able to print life size photos on plastic and fabric to help us provide a very inviting environment for our guests.    

We would like to applaud and thank Access TCA for their amazing gift of time, resources and volunteer labor.  Their efforts to make us shine are greatly appreciated.  This team was able to not only help us farm for the day but also used their talents to advance our mission by donating services that we would not be able to fit into our budget.  A special thanks goes out to Jamie Levine for her coordination of these efforts, Dean Cerrati and Jess Thibault for making the day go smoothly, Phil Oikle and his band of magicians for their amazing craftsmanship and the rest of the Access TCA Team for their support and energy during their visit to our farm.  We really appreciate your support of our efforts and of our community.      

Read the rest of the July Sprout!

Apply to Join Our Board of Directors

Here at Community Harvest Project, we know it takes a diverse group of people to make our work possible – just look at thousands of volunteers who visit us each year! And there’s one group of volunteers in particular that ensure the success and progress of our organization: our Board of Directors.

We are currently seeking candidates to fill a small number of vacancies on our Board.  This is a great opportunity to be part of an inspirational organization, working with a dedicated board and staff to provide nutritious food to those in need.

Although we will consider all who are interested for this or other volunteer roles within the organization, please note that we’re particularly looking for those with one or more of the following:

  • Urban food system experience.
  • Experience in the field of education.
  • Knowledge of agricultural practices.
  • Contacts in north Worcester County who may be helpful to CHP, particularly in and around the town of Harvard.
  • Prior experience on nonprofit boards.

In addition, we are seeking to be an organization that reflects the diversity of our community. If interested, please email your resume and a letter detailing your connection to Community Harvest Project and our mission, and what skills you would bring to the Board. All applications and/or questions can be emailed to execdir@community-harvest.org and will be reviewed as they are received. 

Read the rest of the July Sprout!

Harvest Home 2017

Harvest Home I.jpgIt may be the heat of summer, but CHP is already gearing up for our Harvest Home Festival and 5K events on Sunday, November 5th, 2017. This day of family fun begins with a 5K trail race and 1 mile walk on the beautiful Grafton Land Trust trails and is followed by our Harvest Home Festival at our farm across the street. The day is filled with fun activities and brings the community together at our farm to celebrate the harvest, increase awareness of our work, and raise funds to support our mission.

5K registration is now open! For a limited time, you can register for our 5K fundraiser for only $25! Registration moves to $30 on September 1st, so reserve your spot today. Day-of registration and check-in begins at 9am and the race kicks off at 10:30am at 40 N Brigham Hill Rd, Grafton, MA.

harvest Home IIAfter the 5K trail race, make sure to join us at the Harvest Home Festival (11am – 3pm) for a day of family fun. Shoot apples over 500 feet out of our pressurized cannons and watch a trebuchet competition hurl pumpkins over 400 feet down our fields. There will be plenty of live music, craft beer, local food trucks, homemade desserts, kids crafts and bounce houses! New this year in our Picnic Grove will be an open campfire with hay bales for relaxing and s’mores available for roasting. We hope to see you there!

Sponsorships opportunities are now open for this year’s Harvest Home Festival & 5K event. Event sponsorship is the perfect opportunity for you to increase awareness of your business’ support of a great cause! Please contact claudia@community-harvest.org for more information about these opportunities.

Thank you for your support!

Read the rest of the July Sprout!

Make a Difference as a Monthly Giver

peachEven a little means a lot.  It only takes a small commitment from each of us to make a big difference on our farms for the year.  Becoming a Monthly Giver is a great way to provide support for the programs and experiences that make CHP great. I had the awesome opportunity to speak with several of our Monthly Givers and each of them share several common motivations:

They give because:

  • THEY LOVE Community Harvest Project,  LOVE our mission,  LOVE  the organization.
  • THEY LOVE giving back and know firsthand the impact that we are making together in the community.
  • They fully appreciate how helpful it is for the farm to have a steady stream of donations and that we can budget knowing that they have our back during our leaner months.
  • Giving a little bit each month is more comfortable than one larger sum at once.
  • Have pride in seeing their name in our Annual Report every year.
  • It is easy to sign up online and it saves paper, postage and time.

This fall we will be relaunching the Monthly Giving Program and will  invite you to join the increasing number of Monthly Givers who have chosen to make such a wonderful impact and help sustain our farms.  We are excited to introduce some new fun and exclusive benefits for Monthly Givers and cannot wait to share them with you!  We look forward to creating a healthy and engaged community with you.   

In the meantime if you would like to become a Monthly Giver, we encourage you to go online to our website and go to “Donate” and choose “monthly” as the frequency.  We truly appreciate your support.  Feel free to give me a buzz or drop me a note about how we can continue to improve this program.  I’d love to hear from you!

-Carolyn Ambrose, Development Manager

 

Read the rest of the July Sprout!

The 2017 Season So Far

Now that we’re well in to July, our season is truly in full swing. Our team has plenty of updates to share; read on to learn about our summer so far!

The Grafton Farm
BeetsThings on the Grafton farm are going well, despite the cold, wet, and slow start to the season. After our broccoli and cabbage suffered through standing water and chilly temperatures, we have been surprised by a healthy and large harvest in both of those crops. The blueberries are steadily coming out of the field as a sweet treat to our recipients, and the summer squash and zucchini are strong contenders as always. Our heat loving crops are finally getting the temperatures they love, so hopefully the tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers will start producing soon. We have been using our cultivation tractors to keep up with the weed pressure between the crop rows, and the fields have never looked so clean. Come drop by to see the difference!
– Annie Stegink, Farm Coordinator

The Harvard Orchard
We have been busy this summer at Prospect Hill Orchard caring for the newly planted apple and peach trees and finishing construction on our high density apple orchard. We won’t have any fruit from the young apple trees until next year but they require much care in the establishment years. Fertilization, trellising, painting, pest, weed and water management are some of the tasks we do to ensure they have a healthy foundation and can support their first crop of apples next year. The apples on our established trees have been growing rapidly this summer with warm days and a sufficient supply of water, which we did not have last year. It appears we will have a decent crop and will begin harvesting the first apples at the end of August.
– Susan Conant, Orchard Manager

Our Summer Interns
InternsWe are more than halfway through our Summer Sustainable Internship Program and when they are not out working with volunteers or doing farm tasks like weeding they have had plenty of extracurricular activities to round out the summer.  They are regularly meeting with staff members to learn about each individual role within our organization, participating in healthy eating modules and learning to prepare healthy snacks.  Several of them expressed an interest in learning more about funding which has led to the entire group learning how to write a grant request as a project under Cordie’s direction.  They have visited the Worcester County Food Bank for a tour and more in depth understanding of the hunger relief network.  They are working on a special project to research the best method that we should implement for composting on the farm.  They visited the Clark University Freight Farm to learn about growing hydroponically and visited Compare Grocery to get an understanding of produce needs in a diverse community.  They have also spent time working with the YouthGrow Team from the Regional Environmental Council on their urban farm and will reciprocate by teaching their team all about CHP when they visit our farm.  With several more weeks and quite a few more visits planned this team is surely getting a full view of all of the issues involved in supporting hunger relief efforts in our community.
– Wayne McAuliffe, Volunteer Manager 

Read the rest of the July Sprout!

Volunteers of the Month: South High

South High groupOur volunteer highlight for June focuses not on one individual but on a group that has come together to define the power of hard work and applying newly mastered skills.  This group of students from South High has been working on leadership skills and learning the ropes at the farm as part of a partnership with Unum Insurance.  All of their hard work during the month of May was focused on three dates in June where they will have the opportunity to showcase their skills and lead adult groups of volunteers from Unum in farming activity.  The group has been through the same training as our Team Leaders with a focus on communication and youth leadership of south unum (2)adults.  This is not always an easy task but this team has the will and great personality to prove their merit.  In their time with us they learned the “sandwich” technique of giving feedback and how to engage volunteers by communicating about the work that we do here.  They also learned creative ways to focus volunteer efforts, how to redirect work, how to network for success, troubleshoot on the fly and how to succeed in trying weather conditions.  The teamwork, innovative thought process, mutual respect and fun that they brought to all of the challenges thrown their way was incredibly powerful.  In fact we likely learned more from this amazing group of students than they did.  We could not be prouder of their energetic approach to learning and their focus and determination in learning the skills that they needed to do the job right.  

south unum (3)We would like to thank and congratulate Waly Duran, Austin Truong, Net Andino, Ryan Hale, Anasia Williams, Xeron Piper, Alexi Rithcotte, Shirley Acero, Tayla Weeden, Leslie Sleywion and Ben Kam for volunteering to participate in this program.  Their ability to remain flexible, ask the right questions and test what they have learned with each other made this program go extremely smoothly.  Their commitment to take on this challenge at the end of the school year and to still do all of the hard work to wrap up loose ends at school speaks volumes to their character and effort in giving back to their community.  We would also like to thank Mrs. Papadoupoulos, South High’s Assistant Principal for helping to coordinate all of their training and visits to the farm and Unum Insurance for sponsoring this program.  

Read the rest of the June Sprout! 

Welcome to our 2017 Summer Intern Team

Interns 2017.JPGAs always we anticipate the arrival of our Summer Intern Team as something that marks the calendar as the official start of our Summer Volunteer Season.  This team of students comes to  us from far and wide to learn about some aspect of the work that we engage in. Their varied interests in non-profit work, farming, volunteer organizing, partnerships, fundraising, hunger relief and food access or the myriad of other things that you can learn on our farms is what brings them here.  Their time spent with us gives the team a good snapshot of what it takes to engage over 10,000 volunteers and grow almost a million servings of fresh produce for donation throughout our community.  

In just over the two full weeks that they have been with us we think they have already experienced quite a contrast of activity.  From temperatures in the 40’s just a week ago to the 90+ degree weather that we have experienced recently they have seen the challenges that Mother Nature brings to farming.  Add in the record breaking rains and flooding and our subsequent concern about the health of the plants trying to survive in low temperatures and saturated soil and they really have been through the gauntlet.  Their first days were spent trying to understand how we engage a group of 125 elementary school students all at one time and then spend the afternoon with a group of adults from a local business.  They have seen the full gamut of greenhouse operations, met all of the critters that visit the farm and seen how some of them can do great damage to our crops.  They were instrumental in setting up our irrigation system to prepare for July and August and helped to protect our blueberry field with netting to keep the birds at bay.  In the past week they have become familiar with the June doldrums of “tending the plants” in friendly farm terms, most of you would recognize that as weeding.  While this is not the favorite of tasks it is a necessity as weeds rob water and resources from our developing plants at this stage.  Just yesterday they began their off site visits with a stop at the Worcester County Food Bank, all in an effort to give them a well rounded snapshot of the hunger relief network that we support.  In retrospect it really has been a fast and furious two weeks on the farm.  

If you are visiting please join us in welcoming David (Holy Cross), Liz (Clark University), Charlie (University of Rochester), Olivia (Worcester Academy), Nathan (Kansas State University), Fatima (Holy Cross), Becca (Unity College), Kelsey (Holy Cross), Savannah (Clark University) and Maddy (Suffolk University) to our farms.  We are delighted to have them join us for what we are sure will be an amazing learning experience for them as well as us.  Your help in making them feel at home here as part of the Community Harvest Family would be greatly appreciated.  

Read the rest of the June Sprout! 

Local Schools Support CHP

Sprout Schools PhotoCommunity Harvest Project is exceptionally grateful to hundreds of students from four of our incredible school partners: Mill Pond Middle School, North Street Elementary School, St. Marks School, and Goddard Scholars Academy at Sullivan Middle. These schools have each visited our farms countless times and donated over 3,500 hours of service at our farms. This month, these students went above and beyond by coordinating and participating in some great fundraising for CHP’s mission!

Mill Pond School held a student Read-A-Thon for 6th graders as an educational fundraising program. Students were sponsored by family and friends to achieve their reading goals and rewarded by their sponsors with a donation to the chosen non-profit. CHP is proud to be part of their learning and honored to once again be the recipients of a donation for their hard work. We were also privileged to be round table representatives at your Model U.N. Summit and learned so much!

North Street Elementary School and Goddard Scholars Academy at Sullivan Middle both raised money for CHP though our Dimes for Dinners program this month. St. Mark’s School has been volunteering in our fields this season and wanted to participate in our Adopt-A-Row and Adopt-A-Tree programs. They generously adopted a row of broccoli and are excited to watch it grow this season!

Together, students from these schools showed that every dime counts and cumulatively donated $7,200 to Community Harvest Project. We are so humbled by the enthusiasm of students who visit our farms and thankful for their generosity and spirit. Thank you all!

Read the rest of the June Sprout! 

Kids Cooking Classes Coming Soon

_MG_2459.jpgDo you have a child who loves hanging out in the garden and the kitchen? We have two great opportunities for them this summer! On July 25th and August 8th from 2:30-4pm we will be hosting cooking classes for 4th to 7th graders. The exact recipes we will make will depend on what is ripe in the garden at that time. We will learn how to tell when different vegetables are ripe, taste through what is ripe, and then cook together!

_MG_2526.jpgThe more interaction kids have with vegetables, the more likely they are to eat them so we will engage all the senses in our lesson. We will look at everything in the garden and see the different growth stages of vegetables. We will compare and contrast different varieties of produce, like the six varieties of tomatoes, three varieties of carrots, and all the different herbs we are growing. Then we will work our way towards the kitchen by harvesting produce for our different recipes. Each child will participate in the cooking process (after we go over knife and kitchen safety, of course).

Sign up your child for either or both cooking classes here. If you have any additional questions please email tori@community-harvest.org.

Read the rest of the June Sprout! 

Accepting Applications: Farm Manager

Community Harvest Project (CHP), a 501(c)3 organization, is dedicated to improving access to healthy foods through community engagement. Through our volunteer farming, education, and leadership programs and partnerships, we bring thousands of community members together each year to build an engaged and healthier Worcester County. In 2016, thanks to over 10,000 volunteer visits, CHP grew over 220,000 pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables, the majority of which were donated through partnerships including the Worcester County Food Bank’s hunger relief network, Community Servings, and other area hunger relief agencies.

JOB DESCRIPTION

We are currently seeking a Farm Manager to join our team this summer and oversee our 12 acre vegetable growing operation. This position focuses on growing high quality produce best suited for donation to area hunger relief agencies (we do not sell what we grow). Through overseeing the agricultural operations, the Farm Manager will ensure a positive volunteer experience. The Farm Manager is supported by the Farm Coordinator, Farm Assistant, summer interns, and Volunteer Manager.

DUTIES & RESPONSIBILITIES

**Management of all planning activities:
Yearly crop plan
Yearly planning of acreage rotation
Yearly planning of equipment needs
Yearly pest and weed management plan

**Management of all farming operations:
Planning, monitoring, and modifying the daily agricultural duties
Planning, monitoring, and modifying the daily produce distributions
Monitoring of equipment and executing related repairs/replacements
Monitoring of safety plan and ensuring its execution
Execution of skilled/restricted farm activities
Oversight of basic property maintenance (mowing, limbs, etc)

**Management of all farm staff:
Hiring, scheduling, and training
Assigning duties and priorities
Communicating with the Orchard Manager on shared agriculture needs

**Management of the volunteer experience:
Assigning duties and priorities to the Farm Coordinator
Assisting the Farm Coordinator in meeting volunteer needs
Working with volunteers as needed

**Fiscal management of the Grafton agriculture budget:
Vendor management and ordering of supplies

LOGISTICS & BENEFITS

**This is a full-time, year round position with flexible scheduling options.
**Salary is commensurate with experience.
**Benefits include 4 weeks of paid vacation, additional sick time and paid holidays, and 401k access.

Interested applicants should submit a cover letter and resume to cordelia@community-harvest.org.