An Update from the Farm

IMG-2377Although the weather has been all over the place, we’ve had enough glimpses of spring to make us excited for the upcoming season. After the hard work of a group from Eastern Michigan University, our greenhouse is all set up and ready to go. Our first seeds touched potting soil on the last day of February, and the seeding continues to increase as we move into spring. We start our first trays on top of heating mats that give the soil an extra boost in temperature while there is still a significant chill in the air. Once the seeds germinate, we will move them off the heating mats to make room for the next round.
lunchbox peppers- johnnysThe first little guys that popped up were our lunchbox peppers, a mini sized pepper, perfect for snacking. They are red, yellow, and orange, and have a very sweet flavor. Although we will be trying these peppers out on the farm this year, this particular round of seedlings is being grown for Plantapalooza. We are ramping up the amount of seedlings we grow in house at CHP for our plant sale this year, which means you can try many of the varieties we grow in your very own garden! If you’ve ever helped us pick cubanelle, carmen, or aji peppers and wondered what it would be like to cook with them, Plantapalooza will be your chance to purchase these seedlings (and many more) and take them home.

Thank You, Claudia!

_MG_7543.jpgThis month we saying goodbye to our Development & Events Coordinator, Claudia Frazer. After several years at CHP, Claudia is moving on to a new role. We will miss her smiling, happy face on the farm, but we are thrilled that she is taking on a new adventure.

From the day Claudia walked onto this farm as an Intern from Clark University, she knew that Community Harvest Project was where she wanted to be!  Claudia embraced the mission of CHP from that moment onward.  She was so passionate about our work that she stayed on as a VISTA and then went on to join the Development Team as the Development & Events Coordinator, a role in which she has excelled. She is an extremely hard working, persistent, and smart individual who when challenged with a task, always outperforms.  It was evident in her ability to make Plantapalooza and Harvest Home Festival our most profitable fundraisers events yet!  She took pride in these successes and the incredible commitment from our community who believe in our work just as much as she does.   

Best of luck, Claudia!  

Read the rest of the February Sprout!



Think Spring! Book Your Volunteer Group Now

St. Marks Sprout PicWe all know that Community Harvest Project is a really special place and great asset within our community.  Over the years as we have grown the demand for volunteer time has kept pace and we recognize the fact that we really are a popular and well respected destination for volunteers to help our community.  There is something about spending time on one of our farms that really keeps people smiling.  We are not sure if that energy comes out of the earth or if it is related to the fact that people coming together towards a common goal just feels good.  As one of our great founding fathers George Washington said “Agriculture is the most healthful, most useful and most noble employment of man.”  We may be biased but we really think that his words continue to define agriculture as one of the greatest activities on earth.  Add in the fact that our mission engages community in helping those around us that are less fortunate have access to fresh fruits and vegetables and the picture really comes together.

There is nothing better at this time of year than to begin thinking about the coming season and knowing that spring is just within our reach.  We likely have been through the coldest, snowiest days and as the days begin to lengthen we find ourselves thinking about spending more time outdoors.  Before you know it we will be planting the first of our seeds in the greenhouse and we will slowly bring the farms back to life.  We have spent the last couple of months planning and gearing up for another growing season.  This is where you come in, it’s time to begin planning your groups volunteer visit to the farm.  Just like every year we are counting on our committed volunteer groups to help us grow each and every piece of produce as we could not do this work without your support.  With increasing demand the earlier you plan and put your request in the more likely it is that we will be able to get you on to our schedule.  We have some exciting new approaches for our 2018 season designed to better support our partner organizations who rely on the bounty of our farms so come out and join the fun.  

To request a volunteer visit date for our 2018 season please click here.    

Read the rest of the February Sprout!

Joining a Legacy of Service

KristinaSproutPicLast month we featured some of our longest serving Volunteer Team Leaders with a combined 43 years of service.  As with all of our Team Leaders Bob Dascanio and Laura and Jim Coughlin have inspired thousands of volunteers over the years while leading groups at our farms.  This type of engagement is what makes this a very special place, if you have visited any of our farms you know just how important our Volunteer Team Leaders are to our operation.  The stories of how our Team Leaders arrive here and stay connected continue to inspire and attract a new crop of volunteers each year.  This is what has allowed us to continue to grow and provide an exceptional volunteer experience for all of our volunteers year in and year out.   

This month we would like to feature some of our newest and youngest Volunteer Team Leaders.  They all have one thing in common as they joined the team and began filling the role of Volunteer Team Leader during our 2017 farming season.  It’s good to know that the legacy that Bill and Rose Abbott put in place back in the 1970’s is still inspiring today’s youth to get involved and help others in the community.  Read on to learn more about this amazing group of new Volunteer Team Leaders and how they connect with the mission.  

Kristina Weldon started working with us in June as a friend had told her about his experience at CHP and suggested she get involved as a way to put herself into a position to develop leadership skills.  The role did just that as she really enjoys the fact that she gets to work with volunteers of all ages and backgrounds.  She chose CHP because of the type of work that we do and the fact that our produce is donated to help others.  One of the added bonuses for her is that she “loves getting up early and being productive while helping others.”  Her favorite memory from this summer was working with a group that was visiting from Venezuela.  She initially had a difficult time getting them to understand her direction, but with a quick switch to Spanish she was able to communicate and help them understand.  

Alex Valoras first volunteered at CHP in 4th grade which she remembers as an absolute blast.  Fast forward and this past summer she decided to begin volunteering and became a Volunteer Team Leader.  To hear her tell the story her decision was based on the fact that she wasn’t doing anything valuable at home and the farm provided a convenient, local and awesome opportunity to volunteer.  She is incredibly passionate about what we do. Growing food locally, increasing access for those in need to eat healthier and growing the vegetables as naturally as possible are all things that she appreciates. She said “I also loves the community that is fostered at CHP, as the team leaders I work with and volunteers that I lead are all so kind and genuinely care about being here.”  She also likes the diversity of volunteer groups and the fact that you are always working with someone new on the farm which enhances the ability to learn quite a bit.  Her favorite memory from this past summer was on her first visit of the season.  She was picking blueberries and it began to rain.  It began to thunder and the group made their way to the barn but not before being caught in a soaking downpour.  It was an excellent bonding experience and according to her “an awesome first impression.”

Celine Bui first volunteered as a way to fulfill a requirement of service hours for her school.  She chose CHP because she was touched and inspired by the CHP’s mission statement and the staff’s drive to help the community. “I learned so much more than I anticipated and wanted to join the movement.”  What she enjoyed most as a Volunteer Team Leader was having the opportunity to meet new people. So many different groups, not just locally but also nationally, come to the farm with the intention of giving back to the community. Getting to know their story and their motivation to help CHP is what made her experience memorable.  Her favorite memory from this summer was leading a group from Ohio who traveled to Massachusetts just to volunteer at CHP as part of the Young Neighbors Program.  She worked with them for a few days and instantly clicked. They made little tasks such as removing suckers from tomato plants a lot of fun.  She reports that she “created memories at CHP that I will never forget.”  

Keehn Waterfall first visited the farm as an 11 year old as part of a home-school group that volunteered here regularly.  He remembers having a great time with a group of his friends.  He landed here because his mom always looks for cool places to bring him and his younger sister and she found CHP.  In the Volunteer Team Leader role he enjoys the challenge of being friendly and the leader of a group.  He reports that there is a lot to do and keep track of. You have to balance being a leader and working side by side with the volunteers.  Some of the best parts of leading is the rewarding nature of the work and the challenge to learn and get better every visit.  Keehn’s favorite memory from this summer was leading a group of volunteers from our partner organization Community Servings.  He reports that the group was “cool, with awesome attitudes towards life.  They had great stories to tell and had fun while working in the field together.”   

This amazing group of our newest Team Leaders have hit many of the high notes about this really special role of Volunteer Team Leader.  They illustrate the fact that quite often our volunteers report that they get more than they give when volunteering at Community Harvest Project.  Thanks to Kristina, Alex, Celine and Keehn for joining our team in 2017 and for sharing a little bit about why they volunteer with Community Harvest Project.   

Read the rest of the February Sprout!

Breakfast Made Easy

Weekdagranolay mornings can be a stressful time. Making sure everyone is ready and out the door on time can take a lot of effort, and sometimes a wholesome breakfast gets forgotten. But breakfast is so important for growing brains! According to the CDC, “Eating a healthy breakfast is associated with improved cognitive function (especially memory), reduced absenteeism, and improved mood.”

In our January Kids Cooking Classes we focused on recipes that can be made on the weekend for the whole week ahead. We made different kinds of muffins, mini frittatas, and this delicious granola. The kids tasted the granola with fresh fruit and yogurt, and the recipe is below!

Our next cooking classes take place over February vacation and focus on vegetables in small packages: dumplings!

Dumpling Masters: Celery Sous Chefs (5-8 year olds), February 20th, 2:30-3:30pm

We will make the filling and then learn how to fold Korean mandu.

Register for this class here:

Dumplings Around the World: Broccoli Head Chefs (9-12 year olds), February 23rd, 2:30-4:30pm 

In this class we will play a country and dumpling matching game, plus make two kinds of dumplings including Korean mandu.

Register for this class here:

Olive Oil Granola

  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 1 1/2 cups pecan halves, broken into pieces
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup dried fruit, such as raisins, fried cranberries, cherries, or currants (optional)

Preheat your oven to 300F.

Combine oats, pecans, coconut, and sunflower seeds in a large mixing bowl. Add maple syrup, sugar, olive oil, salt, and spices and toss until everything is evenly coated.

Spread the mixture out on a large baking sheet with rims on all sides. Bake for about 30 minutes, then give a good stir. Bake another 15 minutes or until granola is golden brown. It will be slightly soft and will harden as it cools.

Let granola cool completely. If you wish, add dried fruit.

Granola will keep for a few months in an airtight container. It doubles well (cook on two baking sheets), and makes a great gift.

Read the rest of the February Sprout!

Learning on the Job

Interns for January SproutDo you know of a college student that has a passion for farming, hunger relief, non-profit work or any facet of the work that we are involved in?  Send them our way as we are already recruiting for our 2018 Summer Intern Program.  This team of students will be engaged in all facets of our work and get the opportunity to learn all about what it takes to run our dynamic volunteer farming organization.  They will have the opportunity to visit partner organizations, participate in nutritional workshops and hone their communication and leadership skills all while spending the majority of their summer outdoors on our beautiful farm properties.  

Here’s just some of what former interns say about their experience in the Community Harvest Project Summer Intern Program:

Having an internship at CHP helped me understand and appreciate all the effort that goes into a nonprofit. Staff and volunteers are the real backbone of the organization, doing incredible, selfless work. It’s made me very interested in working in the nonprofit sector, and I want to continue to build on the groundwork that CHP has laid for me.

I enjoyed working with a group of interns who study different things, come from different backgrounds, and have different goals. It was cool to see one organization pull together individuals who will have different take-aways from the same internship.

Every single day at Community Harvest Project I learned something new. The volunteers and staff foster a spirit of kindness and enthusiasm that makes every task on the farm – from washing gloves, to hanging blueberry netting, to leading a group of volunteers in the field – feel like an exciting new adventure. I love how the farm serves the community dually by providing food to people who are experiencing hunger and by giving volunteers the opportunity to spend time outside in an environment that makes farming extremely accessible to a wide range of people. Community Harvest Project is a loving place that makes everybody feel welcome, valued, and eager to come back!

For more information find our 2018 Summer Intern Job Description here.  

Read the rest of the January Sprout!

Leading a Legacy of Service

TeamLeader.BobD.7.16.2015.JPGThe legacy of service that Bill and Rose Abbot set in place in the 1970’s in Hopkinton is alive and well at our farms in North Grafton and Harvard.  It is in that spirit that our Volunteer Team Leaders continue to serve and lead our volunteer groups in activities at our farms.  We could not do the work that we do to support the hunger relief network without the commitment and dedication of this mighty force.  Last year 58 of our best volunteers served in the role of Team Leader allowing us to continue an exceptional experience for all at our farms.  We stand in awe of this group and all that they do in order to support our mission.  

We attract a diverse group of Team Leaders ranging from high school students to retirees and are always happy to have new volunteers join this group.  Some stay with us for a couple of seasons while others are here for the long run.  We have three Team Leaders that have stuck with us and are now counting their years of service in the teens.  Bob Dascanio originally got involved in 2002 when St. Mary’s Ministry was responsible for supervising at the farm on every third Saturday.  With 15 years of service under his belt he is always waiting for the spring thaw to get back out to the farm.  He even can be counted on to volunteer for special events and makes it a family affair with his wife Jo by his side.  Bob’s favorite memory is the time he worked with the freshman class from St. John’s High when they set the farm record for the most pounds of produce harvested in one day.  He says that he keeps coming back because the organization is superb and focused on the mission and enjoys working with the teams of children and adults. Even when he is not on the farm Bob is a big supporter by introducing other people to the farm and connecting us with supporters.  

Speaking of family affair, Laura and Jim Coughlin are right behind Bob with 14 years of service at CHP.  They landed here after meeting our former Executive Director Amy Navin, her energy about our work got them interested and they started volunteering  They feel that by providing nutritious foods to people with food access issues, we are helping to improve our nation’s health in current and next generations.  They continue to volunteer at CHP because they believe that obesity is one of our nation’s biggest healthcare issues and it has a direct correlation to our diet.  Their favorite memory from the farm is working with their own children at the farm and teaching them to pay it forward.  They also use this thought process to help us advance our mission and are strong supporters of our work.  

We are grateful to have Team Leaders like Bob, Laura and Jim in our midst and would like to thank them for their combined 43 years of service.  Our team is stronger because of them and we appreciate all that they do to support the cause.  

Read the rest of the January Sprout!

Thank You 2017 Corporate and Foundation Grantmakers!

Produce VarietiesEach year Community Harvest Project relies on generous donations from community grantors to keep our programs running. Last year was no exception and in 2017 our grants supported a large range of CHP’s work, from operating support to specific equipment or programs.

Many exciting projects were made possible by these corporate and foundation grants, such as outfitting our new greenhouse with electricity, heat and watering automation. These funds also supported necessary investments in equipment such as repairing our rototiller, purchasing a chisel plow and cultivation tractors. We were also able to plant an experimental crop garden to pilot increasing the varieties we donation.

Thank you to our generous grantors, listed below, who ensure that CHP can continue fulfilling our mission. In 2017, your grant support helped enable CHP to donate 1,130,496 servings of fresh fruits and vegetables through 15 local community partners serving 90,000 individuals and families. 8,456 community volunteers of all ages helped us get the work done.

The 200 Foundation
Avidia Bank
Bank of America Foundation
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts
Clif Bar Family Foundation
Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine At Tufts University
Dell Direct Giving Campaign
Doe Family Foundation
Eastern Bank Charitable Foundation
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Fallon Health
Foundation for MetroWest
The Francis A & Jacquelyn H. Harrington Foundation
Fred Harris Daniels Foundation
French Family Foundation
George F. and Sybil H. Fuller Foundation
George I. Alden Trust
Greater Worcester Community Foundation
Hanover Insurance Group Foundation
Harvard Pilgrim Health Care
Hoche-Scofield Foundation
The Mildred H. McEvoy Foundation
The Milford National Charitable Foundation Inc.
Nativity School of Worcester
Nypro – A Jabil Company
People’s United Community Foundation
Price Chopper
Project Bread
Reliant Medical Group Foundation Inc.
Ruth H. and Warren A. Ellsworth Foundation
Schwartz Charitable Foundation
Stonewall Fund
The TJX Foundation, Inc.
Tufts University
Webster Five Foundation
Worcester County Food Bank
Worcester Garden Club

2018 Monthly Giving Program

Even a little means a lot.  Becoming a Monthly Giver by registering online for automatic, monthly donations, is a great way to provide support for the programs and experiences that make Community Harvest Project great, starting with a gift as low as $10.

Join the increasing number of volunteers and community members who have chosen to become sustainers.  Show your support and make your monthly gift today to support the farms all year long.

Monthly donations financially prepare the farms for unforeseen circumstances that arise on our farms.  Peach, one of our beloved Volunteer Team Leaders and a Monthly Giver, experiences the inconsistency of working with weather and knows her monthly donations are valued throughout the year. Peach perfectly captures why monthly donations make a difference:

“Giving a little bit every month is easy and convenient for me. Just as our neighbors rely
on donations of fresh fruits and vegetables, CHP counts on my donations to help the
farm through lean months and periods of severe weather. Even a little means a lot.”

As a thank you for your support, we are delighted to offer the following benefits for the first time:

  • An invitation to a “Special Spring Celebration”
  • A private “Pick-Your-Own Apples Day” at our apple orchard in 2018
  • Two complimentary tickets to our Harvest Home Festival
  • Recognition in newsletter, social media and Annual Report
  • Hassle-free donations and convenient year-end tax receipt
  • Above all, your donations are helping us bring in a great harvest to feed our neighbors and communities

Become a Monthly Giver today; register online or call our Development Office at 774-545-4905 and speak to a member of the Development Team. Thank you for your support!

Read the rest of the January Sprout!

Winter 2018 Cooking Classes

rsz_dsc_0009Playing outside in the snow is great fun, but we can only spend so much time out in the cold before coming in to warm up. That makes winter a great time to work on our indoor skills like cooking! We have a great variety of cooking classes coming up for 5-12 year olds.

1/23/2018 Morning Rocket Fuel – Broccoli Head Chefs

This is our first class of the year for 9-12 year olds. Mornings can be hectic for everyone, so our goal is to put together nutritious, easy, and pleasing recipes that your child can make on the weekend to prep for the busy week ahead. We’ll make granola that we will taste with fruit and yogurt, muffins that can be adapted to all sorts of fillings, and mini-frittatas (aka eggs in muffin cups!). These are simple recipes the kids can put together themselves, and all you need to do is preheat the oven for them!

2/20/2018 Dumpling Master – Celery Sous Chefs
2/23/2018 Dumplings Around the World – Broccoli Head Chefs 


Over February vacation we are offering a class for each age group to celebrate the Olympics. Each class features dumplings and is adapted to the different skill levels. The class on February 20th is for our Celery Sous Chefs (5-8 year olds). We will learn the basics of dumpling making and then everyone will get to fold their own.

The class on February 23rd is for our Broccoli Head Chefs (9-12 year olds). We will play Dumplings Around the World, a matching game with different countries and dumplings. After the game we will make Korean mandu and another surprise dumpling.

Both classes will focus on dumplings as delicious vehicles for a variety of vegetables as we celebrate other cultures. International attire (anything that represents another country) is encouraged.

Registration for all three classes is currently open:

Morning Rocket Fuel – Tuesday, January 23rd, 2018, 3:30-5:30pm

Dumpling Master – Tuesday, February 20th, 2:30-3:30pm

Dumplings Around the World – Friday, February 23rd, 2018, 2:30-4:30pm

You can view the full program schedule for 2018 here.


Read the rest of the January Sprout!