Team Leader Open House March 23

Team Leader (7)Looking for an opportunity to feed your soul while helping others in your community? Have questions about how we operate our farms and how you can get involved? Have a few hours a week that you would like to volunteer?  Recently retired and looking for a new way to engage with your community? Enjoy being in the great outdoors with other like minded community members?  Enjoy meeting new people and helping others? Have time over the summer months to get behind a great cause? Need to fulfill service hours for college applications?  Want to help lead the large groups of diverse volunteers visiting our farms in North Grafton and our orchard in Harvard? Have a unique skill that you think can help advance our mission?   

We are always looking for new volunteers to join the team and offer lots of ways to help the cause.  Come out to our Annual Open House on Saturday, March 23 to learn more. We will offer tours every half hour from 11:00 AM to 2:30 PM and have some of our most experienced Volunteer Team Leaders here to answer your questions.  

Bring a friend and come find out about more about how you can help!

Read the rest of the March Sprout!

Winter at the Orchard

This winter, we have been busy, as always, at the Prospect Hill Community Orchard!  During these frigid winter months, we have bundled up in our balaclavas, buckled our snow boots, and devoted ourselves to pruning over 3,000 apple trees and 150 peach trees. We are making our way through the orchard, with just a few more chilly weeks ahead of us before we can retire our saws and loppers.  We couldn’t do it without the help of our dedicated volunteers and friends, the much esteemed ‘Tuesday Crew.” While everyone has enjoyed the snow, we can safely say that we’re looking forward to the promise of spring.

44601952_10156741402960917_164580423773454336_o-1.jpgThis season we welcome Savannah Eades as the Orchard Assistant. You may have already seen her around the orchard last fall helping with the apple harvest or this winter pruning the fruit trees.  Savannah was a 2017 intern at CHP where her friendly disposition and positive attitude made her a joy to work with. We are so grateful to now have her as a permanent part of the team! She received her BA in Environmental Studies from Clark University in 2018 and is now excited to be pursuing her interests in agriculture.

Support CHP with Amazon Smile

amazon-smile

Amazon makes so much of our lives easier, including giving to a non-profit that matters to you. And it isn’t a separate process – it all happens as part of the shopping you are already doing!

AmazonSmile is a website operated by Amazon that lets customers enjoy their same member benefits and wide selection of products, low prices, and convenient shopping features as on Amazon.com. The difference is that when customers shop on AmazonSmile (smile.amazon.com), the AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of the price of eligible purchases to the charitable organizations selected by customers.

To get started, visit our AmazonSmile website here (smile.amazon.com/ch/04-3424018). Once you select us as your benefiting organization, you’re all set! Just place your orders as you normally would, and Amazon takes care of the rest. Just be sure to bookmark our link so when you shop, you benefit CHP every time.

Thank you for your support!

Volunteer of the Month: Harvard Tuesday Crew

harvardtuesdaycrew.03.12.2019.jpg

As we head into spring it is a key time for work out at our Prospect Hill Community Orchard in Harvard. Susan, Savannah and our Tuesday Crew have been busy since right after the first of the year pruning the thousands of apple trees there so that they will produce a bountiful crop.  Pruning is one of the keys of success and can only be completed when the trees are dormant prior to the trees becoming active with spring growth. During this process any diseased or damaged wood is pruned out of the trees, the pruners also look to improve sunlight penetration and air flow to stimulate a healthier crop.  Lastly and one of the most important pieces of this process is to prune the tree so that it is able to support the weight of its crop. It is an art and something that this team has mastered with many years experience amongst them.

The crew visits weekly and works in all types of weather as with an orchard this big it will take a significant amount of time to get through all of the trees. Once this work is completed the crew will assist throughout the year on other important orchard tasks such as pest management, mowing, trellising and fence repairs.  We could not operate this orchard without the power of volunteers and this hearty crew is the piece that sets everything in motion to have volunteers out in the fall to harvest our apple crop.  We would like to thank the Tuesday Crew for all of their hard work so far this season and cheer them on as they continue their pruning work for the rest of March. Please join us in thanking Don, Marc, Russ, Brian, George, Scott and Peter for their continuing support, dedication and drive in helping us advance our mission. We appreciate all of their effort on our behalf and can not wait to see the “fruits” of their labor this fall.

Read the rest of the March Sprout!

What’s Cooking: Chocolate Beet Muffins

whats cookingDid you know there are 56 grams of sugar in a 20 ounce Gatorade? You would have to eat 4 bananas to get that same amount of sugar from fruit (if that’s even possible!). And when you eat those bananas instead, you are actually full from all the fiber, you get a host of additional vitamins and minerals, and time for your body to absorb them as you digest.

For our February cooking classes we talked about sugar and how easy it so over-consume when you are having processed sweets and drinks. The recommended daily maximum for men is 38 grams (9 teaspoons) and for women is 25 grams (6 teaspoons). Both are less than that single Gatorade. Using fruits and vegetables to satisfy our sweet tooth can be just as delicious (or even more so) than desserts using processed sugar.

These chocolate beet muffins were very popular in our February classes. If your child didn’t get to join us in class, they can try making them at home with the recipe below.  Our April classes are all about breakfast:

Broccoli Head Chefs (9-12 year olds)

Breakfast Bonanza – Wednesday, April 3rd, 2019, 4-6pm

Celery Sous Chefs (5-8 year olds)

Pancake Party – Wednesday, April 24th, 2019, 4-5pm

Pancake Party – Thursday, April 25th, 2019, 4:30-5:30pm

Chocolate Beet Muffins

Adapted from Minimalist Baker

  • 2 tablespoons flax meal
  • 5 tablespoons water
  • 1 cup beet puree
  • ¼  cup maple syrup, agave, or honey (pick ONE of these to use)
  • ⅓  cup brown sugar
  • ¼  teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 ½  teaspoon baking soda (1 teaspoon + ½ teaspoon, or ½ teaspoon measured 3 times)
  • ¼  cup vegetable oil
  • ¼  cup soy milk
  • ½  cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 ⅓ cups wheat flour (1 cup + ⅓ cup)
  • ⅓ cup semisweet chocolate chips + more for topping

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 C) and line a mini muffin tray with paper liners.

Whisk ground flax and water in a large mixing bowl and let rest for 5 minutes. Measure the rest of the ingredients while you wait.

Add beet puree, oil, maple syrup, brown sugar, baking soda, salt and whisk for 45 seconds.

Stir in the soy milk and whisk once more.

Add cocoa powder and flour and stir with a spoon or spatula until just combined, being careful not to over-mix. The batter should be quite thick. 

Lastly, stir in chocolate chips. Then divide batter evenly between muffin tins (they should be filled just to the top).

Bake for 17-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool for a few minutes in the pan, remove from tins and let cool on a cooling rack. Will keep covered for several days. Freeze for longer-term storage.

Read the rest of the March Sprout!

Photo by Norm Eggert.

A New Volunteer Opportunity with CHP!

volunteer photoHave you or someone you know always wanted to volunteer with CHP?  Do you have skills that are not quite a good fit for our Volunteer Farming Program?  We have a new way to get involved that might just be right up your alley. We are assembling a group of specialized volunteers that would be willing to support our farm team in the more complex challenges of the farm.  This team will operate from February through November on Tuesday mornings to help us drive our mission further, operate our farms more smoothly and support our farm staff throughout the year. Support needs will include pruning of hedge rows and fruit bushes, brush clearing, basic carpentry, property improvements and both pre and post season field preparations.  This team will work together to complete projects and help us to clear up a backlog of outstanding needs.

If you’re a recent retiree looking to put your hands to work for a good cause, or someone looking to get outside in the natural environment a few hours a week working with like minded folk towards a goal, this could be your calling.  We will work throughout the seasons and sometimes in adverse weather conditions (this is New England after all). We practice safe work standards on all of our properties so a little equipment knowledge would be helpful but we are willing to teach new skills.  This volunteer role could involve utilizing analog hand tools, power tools, chainsaws, mowers and weed whackers.
If you are interested in learning more we will have a brief informational session on Tuesday, March 5th here at 37 Wheeler Road, North Grafton.  For more information feel free to call (774)551-6544 or email our volunteer team at volunteer@community-harvest.org.   

Looking Forward to Spring on the Farm

IMG_5738And just like that, seasons begin to change.  While several more weeks of winter are undoubtedly before us, here at the Brigham Hill Community Farm the seasonal shift has already begun.  It feels like just yesterday we were cleaning up supplies, winterizing equipment, and hunkering down for cold weather; now we’re dusting those supplies off and taking stock of what we need for a rocking year of veggie-growing!  It’s true, our first seeds of the 2019 season will be planted in just 2 weeks’ time.  And while those tiny seedlings will need several weeks yet of care and warmth, we will see the makings of a vibrant community farm begin to take shape before long.

This coming year we plan to build on successes of previous seasons.  Focusing on the vegetable varieties which prove to be staples for the families that we serve helps to maximize the impact of these foods in our community.  Where appropriate, we’ll be trying out some new methods and varieties here and there to ensure that we’re always improving and getting better at meeting our mission.  We’re particularly excited to include kale along with increased crops of fresh lettuce, roots, and leeks into our crop plan this year.

51851201_360127377906173_1364363083891343360_nAnother great addition to the 2019 season is the arrival of our new farm coordinator, Amanda Carrier.  Having contributed a great deal to our farm team in 2018 as a seasonal farm assistant, Amanda brings a background in environmental science and community agriculture.  Amanda has worked in a number of agricultural capacities across New England.  She served most recently as the Garden Program Manager at Worcester State University as both farmer and educator, working closely alongside volunteers and students, cultivating a love for sustainable food gardening.  We pretty stoked to have Amanda as a full-time part of our farm team this season and we’re convinced that you will be too.

Here’s to a season of full harvest baskets and full bellies!

Welcoming New Board Member Bob Paulsen

Robert Paulsen 2018 (1)Robert Paulsen, SVP, Senior Loan Officer at UniBank, has recently joined Community Harvest Project’s Board of Directors as Treasurer. Paulsen has a strong financial background from working over thirty-two years in finance and operations at several organizations including Middlesex Savings Bank, Country Bank, TD BankNorth among others. CHP is excited to welcome him aboard not only for his financial expertise but also his extensive nonprofit experience and involvement in many Worcester area organizations including: the Chamber of Commerce, Alternatives, Inc., Mohegan Boy Scouts, The Seven Hills Foundation, the Worcester Historical Museum, the Worcester Economic Club, and many other local civic organizations.

Paulsen brings strong leadership skills and enjoys the challenge of working in a creative team environment.  “I look forward to joining the Board of the Community Harvard Project. I have the utmost respect for what this organization does in the community: providing good produce to the local food banks and growing much of the food using volunteers. My own experience volunteering at the farm in Grafton, as a team building exercise with fellow employees at UniBank, really gave me a greater appreciation of what is done at the farm on a daily basis, which I thought was pretty amazing.” Paulsen lives with his family in Rutland, MA.

What’s Cooking: Crispy Chickpeas

cooking classesOur first classes of the year were all about easy and satiating snacks. We made these crunchy chickpeas, which can be easily customized with your favorite spice blend. Let us know what flavor you make!

Our March classes are finally tackling a much requested topic: TACOS! Our Broccoli Head Chefs will be making every part of the taco: tortillas, filling, and salsa. Celery Sous Chefs will be starting with the basics and just making filling and salsa.

Broccoli Head Chefs (9-12 year olds)

$40/child

Taco Time – Tuesday, March 12th, 2019, 4-6pm

Celery Sous Chefs (5-8 year olds)

$20/child

Taco Time – Monday, March 25th, 2019, 4-5pm

Taco Time – Thursday, March 28th, 2019, 4:30-5:30pm

Crispy Chickpeas

Recipe adapted from The Kitchn

  • 2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 to 4 teaspoons spices or finely chopped herbs, such as chili powder, curry powder, cumin, smoked paprika, rosemary, thyme, etc (see options below)

Ranch Spice:

  • ½ teaspoon dill
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • A few grinds of black pepper

Taco Spice:

  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon chili powder

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Heat the oven to 400°F. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 400°F.
  2. Rinse and drain the chickpeas. Open the cans of chickpeas and pour the chickpeas into a strainer in the sink. Rinse thoroughly under running water.
  3. Dry the chickpeas. Pat the chickpeas very dry with a clean dishtowel or paper towels. They should look matte and feel dry to the touch; if you have time, leave them to air-dry for a few minutes. Remove any chickpea skins that come off while drying, but otherwise don’t worry about them.
  4. Toss the chickpeas with olive oil, salt, and your chosen spices. Spread the chickpeas out in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast the chickpeas for 20 to 30 minutes. A few chickpeas may pop – that’s normal. The chickpeas are done when golden and slightly darkened, dry and crispy on the outside, and soft in the middle. For extra crispy chickpeas: turn the oven off when they are done but leave the chickpeas in the oven as it cools.