Give CHP Your Ongoing Support

collardsAs the busiest part of our harvesting season begins to wind down, it is important to remember that hunger and the needs of those experiencing it go on year round. While we prepare for slower days on the farm, we also plan and prepare to combat hunger in our communities throughout the months we are not harvesting. Our Monthly Givers and their consistent donations help us in this preparation with donations we can count on. 

For just a few dollars a month, you can join this wonderful club and support hunger relief year round. Monthly Givers receive a convenient yearly acknowledgement for tax purposes, along with special recognition in our Annual Report and invitations to exclusive events. Monthly Givers also receive two free tickets to our Harvest Home Festival! Become a Monthly Giver by October 15th to receive your tickets. Learn more and join our growing Monthly Giving Program here

Read the rest of the September Sprout.

Susan’s Apple Picks

Our Orchard Manager, Susan, has a wealth of knowledge and opinions about apples. We asked her to share some of her favorite varieties and what they are best for:

During this time of year, the orchard is buzzing with activity as we get the apple harvest in. Over the next three months, with the help of hundreds of volunteers, we will pick over 3,000 apple trees with the majority of the apples going towards hunger relief.

One of the most frequent questions I get asked by the volunteers at the orchard is what my favorite kind of apple is. That’s sort of like asking me which child of mine is my favorite!  The answer I give is, I don’t have a favorite, but rather, I have several that I love equally for different reasons.

ft021-web.jpgThe Best Baking Apple: In my opinion, using a mix of different apples is best when baking. Each apple lends its own flavor and texture to your pie or crisp and the results are delicious. But if you did have to choose just one apple for your Thanksgiving pie, choose Cortland. This apple variety is widely known as the best baking apple for good reason. It cooks to a perfect texture, not too mushy, like its parent the McIntosh and not too crunchy. It has the tartness you want with a baking apple but a hint of sweetness, as well. Fun fact: Cortland apples have beautiful white flesh and are slow to brown so use them on your cheese and fruit platter or in salads too!

20190917_154018.jpgThe Best Fresh Eating Apple: Again, it’s impossible to choose just one! Macoun tend to be my go-to around this time of year. To me they are one of the very best fresh eating apples. Crisp, and juicy, with a complex sweet-tart flavor, this apple is a New England favorite. Macoun, like its McIntosh parent, is also very good for apple sauce. Other delicious fresh eating favorites: Esopus Spitzenburg is an explosion of flavor in one bite (if you can find it, try it!) and Honeycrisp, of course, are rated one of the best.

20190917_154723The Best All Purpose Apple: The Ginger Gold apple fits easily into this category. They are a very good baking apple and are also excellent for fresh eating.  This early season apple is the first to ripen at our orchard so I look forward to these beautiful yellow apples as they mark the start of apple season. They are not great keepers so get them while they are in season!  Runner up: Baldwin apples are not easy to come by these days even though they were once one of the most widely planted varieties in the U.S.  They ripen late in the season and are another great all-purpose apple.  Unlike the Ginger Gold, they store very well.

Read the rest of the September Sprout.

Save the Date: Harvest Home Festival and 5K 11/3/2019

petting

The leaves are beginning to change, the air is getting cooler, our harvest is slowing down; fall must be on it’s way! Though the changing leaves mark the end of our busiest time on the farm, their colors also means that it is time to celebrate another successful year of volunteer farming for hunger relief at our annual Harvest Home Fall Festival. 

Our 13th Annual Harvest Home Fall Festival and 5K Trail Run will be taking place on Sunday November 3rd and will include a new Scarecrow Contest! The contest invites community groups to pool their money and support hunger relief in a new, fun and creative way while also getting their name in front of the hundreds of people who attend Harvest Home. Spots are limited, so submit your application today!

craftsThe race kicks off at 10:30am and the festival will begin at 11am. The day includes a 5K trail run, a raffle, bouncy houses, good food, beer and wine, live music, pumpkin catapults, apple cannons, kids crafts, a petting zoo and much more! There is truly something for all ages. Be sure to register for the 5K and buy your festival tickets! Use the discount code “FALL” to get 15% off your 5K registration until September 27th.

Read the rest of the September Sprout.

Volunteer of the Month: Apple Pickers

_DSF5512It’s that time of year where the air is showing a hint of crisp coolness even on the warmest of days and the leaves are telling us that the season is changing. Fall in New England holds a very unique place and is at the heart of many of our traditions. Thoughts of the leaves turning color as though they are flowers and the brightness of light due to the changing angle of the sun all give us a sense of warmth and change. We also can think back to the excitement we experienced as children on a trip to an orchard or farm to pick apples and select pumpkins.  The smells of apples, fallen leaves and crisp fall air all help to make this a most magical time of year.  

For the last several weeks our orchard has been a buzz of activity with hundreds of volunteers helping us to pick, sort and package thousands of pounds of fresh apples. Without these energetic and committed volunteers we would not be able to get these fresh and nutritious apples out for donation to our hunger relief partners. This month we would like to thank and congratulate the many hands helping to do the work of the orchard. Please join us in a hearty thank you and congratulations to all of our volunteers from Bristol Myers Squibb, Dell, Hype 9, Bose, Olympus, PolyOne, Wegmans, Charles River Labs, Bromfield Boys Cross Country Team, Middlesex School and South High. We can not do this work without the help of many and these groups came out in force to support our work. Thank you all for your effort in making our 2019 apple season a success.  

Read the rest of the September Sprout.

What’s Cooking: Pickles

pickle classOur August classes take place while the garden is at its peak and we use that bounty to make pickles! Many of the herbs in the garden are going to seed at that point in the year, so we harvest seeds from dill and coriander to make pickling spice. That pickling spice went into pickled chard that all our cooking class students brought home. This spice mix and brine is a great use for any vegetables you have an overabundance of.

Upcoming classes have some great themes including veggies burgers, apples, whole grains, and orange foods for Halloween. Sign up is for individual class so you can pick the ones that fit in your child’s schedule.

Broccoli Head Chefs (9-12 year olds)

Between Two Buns – Monday, September 30th, 2019, 4-6pm

Apples! – Thursday, October 24th, 2019, 4-6pm

Celery Sous Chefs (5-8 year olds)

Whole Grain Goodness – Wednesday, September 25th, 2019, 4:30-5:30pm

Beta Carotene Monster – Wednesday, October 9th, 2019, 4-5pm

Beta Carotene Monster – Monday, October 28th, 2019, 4:30-5:30pm

Pickling spice

Adapted from Food in Jars by Marisa McClellan

  • 1 tablespoon crushed bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seed
  • 1 tablespoons mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon whole cloves
  • 1 teaspoon dill seed

Put all spices in a small bag or jar and shake to combine. 

Pickled Chard Stems

Adapted from Love and Lemons

Ingredients

  • about 1 cup chard stems (halved lengthwise if thick)
  • 1 tablespoon pickling spice
  • ½ cup vinegar
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 tablespoons sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Add vinegar, water, sugar, and salt to your jar. Microwave for 30 seconds, or until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Add in the pickling spice. 

Chop your chard stems so they fit in your jar. 

Place the chopped stems and sliced shallot in a jar, cover them with the brine and refrigerate overnight before eating them.

Read the rest of the September Sprout.

Farm and Flower Update

flowersWe are reaching our busiest part of our season here at the farm! Every day now we are harvesting, washing, packing and donating hundreds of pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables to our hunger relief partners with the help of our incredible volunteers. So far, we have harvested over 17,000 pounds of produce. That translates into about 80,000 servings of healthy foods that are now available to those in our community experiencing hunger and we are just getting started! We have been harvesting broccoli, cabbage, zucchini, collards, cucumbers, kale, lettuce and many more while we wait patiently for our carrots, eggplants, leeks, okra and bell peppers to be ready for harvesting.

In addition to our fresh produce, our flower field is filling back up with beautiful, ready to pick sunflowers, zinnias and amaranth! Come pick your own bouquet or pick up one of our gorgeous pre-made bouquets. Pick your own hours are 8am-8pm and open seven days a week. Flowers are $1 per stem and pre-made bouquets are $10. It’s the perfect time to come out to our beautiful field, takes some photos (holiday cards! back to school! engagement! anniversary!) and pick some flowers. All proceeds will go to support our mission of hunger relief in Massachusetts. Get all the details and spread the word here.

Read the rest of the August Sprout here!

Top photo by Norm Eggert.

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Where Does Our Produce Go?

IMG_20190806_121241897We’re so grateful for the opportunity to spend our days as we do: enjoying the breeze on a warm day, listening to the chatter of birds, carefully tending rows of veggie plants, and working alongside new and old friends in the fields.  All of these bright points culminate as the fruits of our hard work begin rolling out the door.  At CHP, we work with more than 16 different community partners to ensure that the food we produce is distributed to folks throughout our community that need it.  These partners range from food banks and soup kitchens to addiction recovery programs and health centers.  Many of the partners whom we serve work toward missions of their own which often address a range of issues to which hunger and food access are undercurrents.  These progressive organizations and individuals recognize the power of healthy, fresh food to cure a wide swath of challenges faced by many of our neighbors every day.

Since 2014 Community Harvest Project has been partnering with The Family Health Center of Worcester.  As a federally qualified health center serving inner-city Worcester, FHCW provides care to patients who often lack affordable access to fresh, healthy produce which is often recommended by their healthcare providers.  Program Director Dr. Melanie Gnazzo notes “When asked, patients responded that ease of access and cost were major obstacles to purchasing produce.”  

IMG_20190806_121226313Each week, CHP volunteers and staff harvest, coordinate, and deliver family-sized shares of mixed farm-fresh produce to FHCW patients participating in group-medical visits focusing on specific health conditions and needs.  Building these shares is a great and fulfilling opportunity for our staff and volunteers to consider each recipient family and the variety of produce that will contribute to a full and satisfying offering each week.   

Dr. Gnazzo continues, “Our patients look forward to the produce each week.  They comment on their favorites as well as the new produce they have tried.  We are so grateful to have a community partner like the Community Harvest Project!!!”  We, in turn, are grateful to partner with such a valuable community organization like The Family Health Center of Worcester and look forward to many more abundant years to come.

Read the rest of the August Sprout here!

Harvest Home 5K Registration is Open!

5KRegistration for our annual Harvest Home 5K is now open! Secure your spot in our awesome trail run and plan to spend Sunday November 3rd with us as we celebrate another year of volunteer farming for hunger relief. In addition to our 5K we will have food trucks, beer, apple cannons, kids activities and more! Admission for the Festival is included in the price of race registration. Those not participating in our 5K or fun run can purchase admission for our Harvest Home Fall Festival online or at the door for $10 per adult or $30 for the whole family (family passes are only available at the door). All proceeds from this event will go towards of our mission of providing hunger relief to our community.

Read the rest of the August Sprout here!

Volunteer of the Month: Summer Youth Groups

07.19.2019-ynia-2.jpgOne of the most interesting pieces of the work that we undertake in supporting area hunger relief is bringing a diverse community of volunteers together in order to do the work of our farms. When people come together with their hands in the dirt or over a plant as they weed or harvest there is a greater sense of community and interesting conversation that takes place. With the slower pace of a farm everyone has the opportunity to learn more about farming and hunger relief as well as each other.  Over the summer months we have the opportunity to engage youth groups from near and far in our efforts and always marvel at the community that comes out to support Community Harvest Project year in and year out. We are lucky to have such a loyal and committed following and feel honored that many programs trust our ability to provide a healthy and engaging environment for their groups.  

This month we would like to thank all of our summer youth groups that continue to visit us and help with the summer work of the farm. Whether they come for a day, two days or even spend the entire week with us these groups all are key partners in helping us to have a successful summer. This year we saw teams from all over Massachusetts., Connecticut, Michigan, Washington, Canada and from as far away as Sweden and Hungary. All of them came together to learn about food, hunger relief and community.  They all have left a mark on us and on their efforts have helped to make an impact on the hunger relief partners that rely on Community Harvest Project as a resource for fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables.  

Please join us in thanking and congratulating these teams for a job well done. This years’ programs included Young Neighbors in Action, St. Johns High Senior Leaders, Whitinsville Serve, CSAW from Millbury, Westborough Recreation, You Inc. Career Pathways, Operation Friendship of Grafton and United Way’s Summer Teen Program.  We applaud them for their service to community and for their work in engaging youth by helping to build community. Thank you all for effort on behalf of Community Harvest Project, we appreciate all that you do.

Read the rest of the August Sprout here!

What’s Cooking: Pesto Pasta Salad

What's cooking

Pesto is summer turned into a perfect sauce. In our July cooking classes we picked herbs and greens to make an easy pasta dish you can enjoy hot or cold at a picnic. This easy vegan recipe is packed with vegetables and whole grains to please and nourish.

Our September classes return to the after-school times, but we will still be harvesting from the learning garden for each class! We hope your child can join us to learn about delicious whole grains or make veggie burgers.

Broccoli Head Chefs (9-12 year olds)

Between Two Buns – Monday, September 30th, 2019, 4-6pm

Celery Sous Chefs (5-8 year olds)

Whole Grain Goodness – Tuesday, September 17th, 2019, 4-5pm

Whole Grain Goodness – Wednesday, September 25th, 2019, 4:30-5:30pm

Pesto Pasta Salad with Kale

  • 1 lb whole wheat penne pasta
  • 1 bunch kale, stems removed and ripped into small pieces

Pesto Ingredients

  • 3 cups washed herbs and greens, such as basil, cilantro, parsley, chives, kale, or spinach
  • 1 garlic clove
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup shelled sunflower seeds or nuts such as pecans, walnuts, pine nuts, or almonds
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest (the yellow from the outside of the lemon)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon salt

For the pesto: Puree all ingredients in a food processor.

Put pasta in boiling, salted water. Cook for 6-8 minutes, until not quite done. Toss pasta and kale with pesto and serve!

Read the rest of the August Sprout here!