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!

The year’s end

year-end-donation-photoCHP had a fantastic growing season in 2016:

950,000 servings of fresh fruits and vegetables donated

29,000 hours of community service

10,000 volunteers hosted

4,100 hours of nutrition education provided

1,800 youth participated in educational programs

These numbers are impressive, but here at CHP we know it only takes one person to make a ­­difference. Your generosity is making an impact.

As we gather with friends and family to celebrate the holidays, let us also celebrate the tremendous work being done on our farms to alleviate food insecurity from the lives of our struggling neighbors. We ask you to contribute to Community Harvest Project so we can continue to provide fresh fruits and vegetables to those who need them most. Make your year-end tax-deductible donation today.

Thank you for being part of the healthy solution to hunger in our community. We couldn’t do it without you!

Read the rest of the December Sprout!

Thank you for supporting CHP on #GivingTuesday!

product_28717707_1475259083Thank you to everyone who donated to CHP on #GivingTuesday! You helped CHP meet and exceed our fundraising goal of $3,000 and raise $3,430 to support our mission! Thank you for supporting CHP and engaging with a local non-profit organization on #GivingTuesday.

Across the world, #GivingTuesday is growing as an incredibly impactful day of giving back. 2016 results are still being compiled, but we already know:

  • Over $168 million raised globally, a 44% increase over 2015
  • 1.56 million gifts averaging $108
  • 98 countries and territories participated

The $3,430 that you helped us raise this #GivingTuesday means a lot to CHP. This contribution will allow us to do things like donate 30,000 servings of fresh fruits and vegetables, order 75% of the seeds needed to start our 2017 crops, or provide supplies for all of our nutrition education programming. Thank you to everyone who supported CHP on #GivingTuesday by sharing, liking, and donating to our fundraiser. This community efforts allows CHP to increase our impact on the community and continue to bring people together to donate fresh fruits and vegetables to those who need them most.

Read the rest of the December Sprout!

December 2016 – Volunteer of the Month

wegmansAs we wind down the final days of 2016 the team here at Community Harvest Project would like to thank our thousands of volunteers that volunteered with us this year.  It is no small feat to produce the abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables that we do here, but as always our volunteers make it look easy.  This year we hosted over 10,000 volunteers that served over 29,000 hours in a variety of capacities on our farms.   We could not be prouder to have this great group of people supporting us and are already looking forward to getting back out into the fields in the spring.  All of this effort is a gift to our organization and the community at large as we continue to try to help our neighbors improve their access to fresh and healthy food that is grown locally.

orchardIn 2016 we hosted 19 student interns from colleges and universities as close by as Worcester and as far away as Pennsylvania and Maine.  Our intern program is designed to give students an inside view of the non-profit farming world but in the end they leave a lasting impact on our staff and volunteers.  Their hours of work on behalf of our community is greatly appreciated.  We also could not to the work that we do without the support and guidance of a fantastic volunteer Board of Directors.  This mighty group works tirelessly on our behalf here and throughout the community.   Our dedicated group leaders do the hard work organizing and communicating with the large groups that they organize from their respective organizations.  Year after year we have hundreds of people working on our behalf within organizations throughout Worcester County and beyond.  In addition we have countless teachers, professors, chaperones, program managers, troop leaders and parents to thank for their support in getting their respective groups out to the farm.

lindaIf you are familiar with us you recognize the many different roles that come together but there is one that stands out for their level of commitment day in and day out.  Our Team Leaders allow us to run this organization seamlessly by providing the knowledge, guidance, expertise and general order to the work that we do.  This small but mighty group stood strong with 42 active members in 2016 as they helped to manage each day with an exceptional amount of spirit and grit.   We could not run our farming operation without this group of committed volunteers coming from all parts of Worcester County to help ensure a great experience for all volunteers that visit our farms.  Please join us in offering a hearty thank you for all that they do, their hard work on our behalf is the secret sauce that is the main ingredient of our success.

blueberriesWe therefore would like to thank the over 10,000 volunteers, interns, Board of Directors, group leaders, teachers, professors, chaperones, program managers, troop leaders, parents and Community Harvest Project Team Leaders that selflessly gave their time throughout 2016 in order to help our community.  We could not do this work without your support and stand humbled to be in your presence.  Thank you all!

Read the rest of the December Sprout!

December 2016 – Veggie of the Month

butternut.PNGButternut squash are a champion storage squash, and were our final vegetable to go out for donation in November (even though most were picked in September!). One serving of butternut squash has 25% of your daily value for vitamin C, an especially sought after nutrient in these cold months! The real kicker is almost 70% daily value of vitamin A, plus about 10% daily value of vitamins B6 and vitamin E. They are great to buy from local farms now to store and cook through the winter.

Butternut Squash with Tahini

Adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi

  • 1 butternut squash, peeled, deseeded, and cut into ½ inch wedges
  • 1 red onion, peeled and sliced
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 tablespoons tahini
  • 5 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons water (more if needed)
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon za’atar (or dried thyme)

Preheat your oven to 450F. Toss the butternut and sliced onion with the olive oil, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast for 30-40 minutes. While the butternut is roasting, whisk together the tahini, lemon juice, water, and garlic. If the mixture seems too thick (it should be about the consistency of honey), add a little more water. When the squash can be easily pierced by a fork, remove it from the oven. Allow to cool a bit, then serve with the sauce and sprinkled with za’atar.

Read the rest of the December Sprout!

Get in the giving spirit

#GivingTuesday is coming up on November 29th ! We hope everyone takes a moment on #GivingTuesday to appreciate the tremendous generosity in our communities and across the world. At Community Harvest Project, we see kindness everyday through the actions and stories of our volunteers, supporters, staff, and board members. We hope you see this spirit of compassion and that together we can continue to face challenges with community solutions.

This year, CHP’s #GivingTuesday campaign offers our supporters the opportunity to share their donation as a gift to their family and friends. By donating to our Gift Catalog, supporters can designate their gifts to importance expenses that keep our volunteer farming and nutrition education programs running. Donate today to help jump start our #GivingTuesday campaign by choosing a gift that resonates with you!

Last year, more than 45,000 organizations in 71 countries came together to celebrate #GivingTuesday.  Since its founding in 2012, #GivingTuesday has inspired giving around the world, resulting in greater donations, volunteer hours, and activities that bring about real change in communities. Community Harvest Project is excited to partner with organizations from around the world. Join us today to become part of the healthy solution to hunger in our community and to show support for #GivingTuesday, a global day dedicated to giving back.

Check out the rest of the November Sprout!