Orchard Assistant Job Listing

COMMUNITY HARVEST PROJECT ORCHARD ASSISTANT 

Community Harvest Project is a 501(c)3 nonprofit farm that engages volunteers to grow fresh fruits and vegetables to provide to those experiencing hunger. Through our volunteer farming programs and community partnerships, we bring thousands of community members together each year to improve access to healthy foods for individuals and families across Worcester County. 

We are currently seeking an Orchard Assistant to work under the direction of our Orchard Manager at our Harvard site, the Prospect Hill Community Orchard. This 75-acre property includes approximately 27 acres of apples, an acre of peaches, and an acre of asparagus. The vast majority of our apples are grown for donation and harvest from late August to late October, with a small portion sold to select partners. 

The right candidate will have experience in orchard and/or other agricultural work, will be self-motivated, have a friendly personality, and enjoy working with individuals of all ages and abilities. See below for more information. 

Job purpose 

The Orchard Assistant is responsible for assisting the Orchard Manager by executing all agriculture operations at the Prospect Hill Orchard site and by creating a positive volunteer experience for all visitors. 

This is a full-time, year-round position. The typical work week is 40 hours with occasional additional hours with prior notice. 

Duties and responsibilities 

Assist in all orchard operations, including: 

Execute daily agricultural duties :

  • Weeding 
  • Mowing 
  • Planting 
  • Irrigating 
  • Fertilizing 
  • Equipment maintenance

Execute harvest duties 

  • Picking 
  • Processing and packing 
  • Delivery 
  • Assist with distribution partners
  • Execute skilled/restricted farm activities after necessary training 
  • Spraying fungicides, insecticides, PGRs, herbicides and plant nutrients. 

Assist in all volunteer operations: 

  • Work with Team Leaders to plan volunteer sessions
  • Oversee and work with volunteer groups
  • Work with farm interns
  • Provide a positive volunteer experience 

Benefits 

  • Compensation: $15 per hour 
  • Time Off: 20 days of paid time off / 5 days of paid sick time / paid holidays 
  • Employer-sponsored health insurance with 50% of coverage paid by CHP 
  • Employer-sponsored 401k plan (no match) 

Qualifications 

  • 2 years of agricultural experience, preferably in an orchard setting 
  • 1 year of tractor experience 
  • Knowledge of IPM and a Pesticide Applicator License a plus (If you do not have a PAL, training will be provided)
  • Ability to lift 50 pounds 
  • Ability to work in all types of weather including rain and snow 
  • Excellent communication skills 
  • Positive, self-starting attitude 

With your help, we can donate ONE MILLION MORE pounds

Boxes of pepper, cabbage, squashGenerous volunteers and contributors have made it possible for us to donate more than one million pounds of fresh produce to local hunger relief over the last five years. Fresh, nutritious fruits and vegetables were made available annually to 60,000 of our neighbors who don’t have enough nutrient-rich food to put on the table.

Food insecurity is a widespread but often invisible issue in our state. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) defines food insecurity as a lack of consistent access to enough food for an active, healthy life. For over 1 in 9 people, purchasing food becomes an uncertain choice. When limited funds are necessary for expenses such as rent, heat, transportation, and medication, the quality of the food that is available declines. There is an alarming cycle of food insecurity and chronic disease that begins when an individual or family cannot afford enough nutritious food.

A recipient of our produce at our partner organization, the Virginia Thurston Healing Garden Cancer Support Center in Harvard said:

The program has encouraged me to try new veggies and new recipes, and getting fresh produce at no cost has been invaluable since I live on limited income and I’m not working much while recovering from chemo.”

Your contributions and time spent on the farm are so valuable to our operation, but there is another way you can help. Because hunger in our community is not going away, we’re embarking on a campaign to donate ONE MILLION MORE pounds by 2025. Generous donors Dr. Steve and Lindsay Tosi feel so strongly about the impact we can make together, that they have offered to match the first $10,000 in donations to the ONE MILLION MORE campaign.

“As a doctor, I know how critical fresh fruits and vegetables can be to a patient’s health. Community Harvest Project’s mission to provide fresh fruits and vegetables to our neighbors experiencing hunger fulfills a vital need in our community. For that reason, Lindsay and I are delighted to support this much-needed project.”

Please consider making a year-end gift to Community Harvest Project so we can donate ONE MILLION MORE pounds to those experiencing hunger. Together, we can ensure our neighbors have the nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables they need to thrive.

Thank you for your support!

Read the rest of the December Sprout here!

2019 by the numbers

vegIn 2019, 35 Volunteer Team Leaders were trained to lead groups of other volunteers in all of our farm tasks, including seeding, transplanting, tending, harvesting, washing, sorting, and boxing 33 different varieties of fruits and vegetables. Those 35 Team Leaders guided 7,563 volunteers of all ages and abilities, from parents with newborns looking to get out of the house, to elementary school students seeing their plant life cycle lessons come to life, to tech company employees taking a break from the office and bonding as a team, to seniors looking to give back in during their retirement, and so many others in between.

Their collective efforts made it so 94,919 pounds of nutritious, local produce was distributed to out 16 partner agencies, who ensured that it got in the hands of our food insecure neighbors. Those pounds translate to 417,644 servings of fruits and vegetables that helped relieve the burden of healthy eating from people who are already struggling to put food on their tables. This work was made possible by 664 donations from generous volunteers and community members, who believe that your health should not be dependent on your income.

Thank you, for donating your time, skills, and funds to create our community, whose mission is provide fresh fruits and vegetables for hunger relief.

Read the rest of the December Sprout here!

 

Giving Tuesday succeeded because of YOU!

GT TYBecause of the incredible generosity and support of our community, we were able to raise enough funds to purchase a new gator for our farm on Giving Tuesday. Small farm vehicles, like gators, are essential to day to day farm operations. Our staff uses them to transport equipment, vegetables and people. This gator will allow full access and usage of the land we have available, therefore doubling the impact we would otherwise have on hunger in our community. Thank you again to everyone who participated by donating or spreading the word – your support is the reason Community Harvest Project works.

Read the rest of the December Sprout here!

Volunteer of the Month: 7,563 Thanks! 

05.14.2019 WegmansAs we wrap up our year there are some very special people that we would like to highlight. The work of our farms would be impossible without the 35 Volunteer Team Leaders who led all of the volunteers that visited our farms in 2019. This selfless group of leaders gives us their all day in- day out, helping with the first seed being planted and are there when the last field is being prepped for winter. They are the friendly and welcoming force that makes Community Harvest Project a leader when it comes to marshaling community efforts to support hunger relief. Thanks to them we were able to host the 7,563 volunteers that visited our farms in 2019. It does not stop there however as we have 12 Volunteer Board Members who serve at our monthly meetings and events, 12 Tuesday Volunteer Crew Members helping both farms on a weekly basis and we hosted 5 amazing Volunteer Interns this past summer. Without all of these hands we would be unable to donate hundreds of thousands of pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables to our hunger relief partners annually. 

Please join us in congratulating and thanking the 7,563 individuals who took time to help their communities by volunteering with Community Harvest Project in 2019. We are incredibly lucky to have you on our side doing this important work and are thrilled that you chose us as a place and cause worthy of your time. To that we say a hearty thanks to each and everyone of you.

Read the rest of the December Sprout here!

06.05.2019 SouthHighUnum06.25.2019 AccessTCA 207.19.2019 YNIA 1

What’s Cooking: Creamy Spinach Dip

pickle classThis month’s cooking classes featured easy and fun party foods! This spinach dip is packed with vegetables and spices for a flavorful appetizer. Kids love squeezing out the spinach, measuring all the spices, and stirring it all together.

Creamy Spinach Dip

Ingredients:

  • 1 box (10 oz.) frozen chopped spinach, cooked, cooled and squeezed dry
  • 2 cups full-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 can (8 oz.) water chestnuts, drained and chopped 
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons dill
  • 2 teaspoons dried chives
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons salt

Procedure:

Combine all ingredients and chill. Serve with sliced vegetables for dipping.

Read the rest of the December Sprout here!

Thank you for making Harvest Home a success!

hhThis year’s Harvest Home Fall Festival was held on Sunday November 3rd. Over 270 athletes took to the trail at 10:30am for our 5K trail race. Evan Griffith finished first place overall with a time of 21:25 and Kathryn McCarthy took first place female finisher with a time of 26:35. More race results can be seen here.

 Mr. Moneybags by Homefield Credit Union won our people’s choice scarecrow contest. It was a wonderful day filled with live music from Big Jon Short, face painting from Happy Face Paint, hay wagon rides, pumpkin trebuchets sponsored by Waters Corporation, petting zoos from Farm Visits Petting Zoo and a local 4H Club, a bouncy house  and so much more. 

Guests enjoyed local beer from Wachusett Brewery and food generously donated by the Worcester Restaurant Group all while raising over $37,000 for hunger relief in Massachusetts. We’d like to extend yet another thank you to all of the incredible volunteers, sponsors and vendors that made our festival such a successful and enjoyable day. See you all next year on November 1st!

And a special thank you to all of our sponsors:

Harvard Pilgrim HealthCare Foundation – Unibank 

Wegmans – Homefield Credit Union

Waters Corporation – Lampin Corporation – White Corporation – Elm Rock Estates by Eastland Partners – Halstead Insurance – Savers Bank – Window Logic – Mancuso Insurance – Fidelity Bank – Reliant Medical Group – J.J. Bafaro Inc. – Scheier, Katin & Epstein PC – Pyne Sand & Stone Co Inc. – Koopman Lumber – Atchue Opticians – Worcester Restaurant Group – J.F. Cove Insurance Agency Inc. – Clifford Rano & Associates – Congressman McGovern – Gaudette Insurance – Cornerstone Bank – LaBounty Family – Collette Motors – Leominster Credit Union – H&M Bay Inc.- Millbury Savings Bank – Templeman Tree Services – Acorn Business Advisors – Fitness Asylum – Sunshine Signs

Read the rest of the November Sprout here.

Save the Date: Giving Tuesday is 12/3!

gtIn recent years, Giving Tuesday has taken hold as a global giving movement with local impact. Started in 2012 by the 92nd Street Y and the United Nations Foundation as a day to counter the commercialism that immediately follows, Giving Tuesday has become one of the largest single days of the year for fundraising.

This year, CHP is fundraising to replace a John Deere Gator. The use of small farm vehicles, like a gator, is essential to day to day farm operations as our staff uses them to transport equipment and vegetables. They allow full access and usage of the land we have available, therefore doubling the impact we would otherwise have on hunger in our community.  We have already secured $5,000 of the $12,000 needed to replace the gator. You can join the growing Giving Tuesday movement by setting a reminder to donate on December 3rd and spreading the word about our campaign to help us raise the remaining $7,000 needed to purchase a gator by the end of the day on Giving Tuesday.

Read the rest of the November Sprout here.

Volunteer of the Month: Jan from Germany

If you have visited the Grafton Farm over the summer or this fall, you may have met one of the people who regularly visited the farm to help out. We were lucky that Jan from Barsinghausen, Germany chose to spend part of his gap year visiting his aunt who just happens to be a neighbor to our farm. After a few weeks he was a familiar face with everyone here and became an impactful presence for all of our volunteers. A regular question that we heard from our visitors was “where is Jan”? In his effort to utilize his gap year to improve his English language skills while meeting new people he found the right community to do both. His ability to communicate with the diverse volunteers that visit our farm was remarkable, in the process he has made many friends and will leave a lasting impact with volunteers, neighbors, and staff. 

When Jan was asked about his experience here with Community Harvest Project he said Spending time at CHP felt like being part of a big family. School classes, students volunteering for school on their own, families, corporate groups, team leaders and the farm team all welcomed me. Everyone was doing their part to help relieve hunger in the community. I really enjoyed spending time with this amazing variety of people. Everybody was willing to spend their time to do whatever was needed to make a difference, even if they had to come visit on a Saturday. Another thing I will remember, was driving with a team leader to the apple orchard in Harvard to help harvest some of the late apples. So in a nutshell, I met a lot of great people, got to improve my English and found myself doing good things with great people while I learned about this unique approach to helping others.”

With that please join us in applauding Jan as our Volunteer of the Month for November. The time and effort that he spent with us is very much appreciated. Congratulations Jan!

End of Season Farm Update

IMG_20191011_092334843As the Grafton farm season is wrapping up, we engage in our final harvest of the year — sweet potatoes! The 2019 season is proving to be a great year for these sugary tubers with a heavy harvest. As we work alongside local elementary students to hunt for, dig, and clean these tasty nuggets, it really feels like digging for buried treasure. Excitement runs high as volunteers across the field triumphantly hold their harvests in the air and yell “I found one!”. Working with this crop serves as a reflection on our work here at Community Harvest Project and farm life in general. We plant sweet potatoes at the beginning of the season alongside the many acres of other crops. However, while harvest baskets are been loaded with veggies of all colors and shapes throughout the season, the sweet potatoes quietly develop under the soil surface, where we can’t see them, until they are fully formed and ready during the crisp, final weeks of the growing season.

Farming is often like that…we plant a seed in the soil. For a time, we have to wait and see what germinates. We can’t force it to happen; we can merely do our best to provide for each seed’s needs and manage conditions to encourage a healthy crop. Each year, we rely on the outstanding generosity of our donors and volunteers to support and act on our mission. We can’t force or demand this support; we instead strive to plant seeds in the minds and hearts of our neighbors, cultivating a community of giving and collective accomplishment. We’re incredibly grateful for the community connection and collaboration that makes our farm thrive. The rush of excitement when you spot that golden sweet potato peeking from the soil is a reminder of the treasures that lie under the surface, waiting to be revealed. The seeds we plant truly go on to grow strong and provide much needed nourishment. We’re thankful for our community!

Read the rest of the November Sprout here.