World Hunger Day, May 28

World Hunger IIWorld Hunger Day is about raising the awareness of chronic hunger.

The silent, invisible, day-after-day condition affects 795 million people worldwide. Currently, 1 in 6 people in America experience hunger.  Locally, over 100,000 Worcester County residents utilized emergency hunger relief services over the past year.  This is approximately 12% of our neighbors and over 39% are children under the age of 18.  

This is where Community Harvest Project’s work begins. Donations to CHP will help to support our efforts in hunger relief and food insecurity on a local level while spreading awareness about world hunger. CHP creates engaged and healthier communities by bringing volunteers together to provide healthy food to those experiencing hunger, so they can have a healthy diet and avoid the health problems that come with poor nutrition.

Donate to CHP through our Adopt-a-Row and Adopt-a-Tree programs, and help make a difference in the lives our your neighbors.  You will help put fresh fruits and vegetables into the hands and homes of people who need it most. Thank you for helping us raise awareness about hunger and food insecurity.

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Peaches Planted at Harvard Orchard

20170419_092547This April at the orchard we kicked off a new growing season by planting 160 peach trees.  The planting covers about an acre and replaced 120 of some of our oldest apple trees.  Six different peach varieties were planted and once they begin to bear fruit will give us a steady crop from the end of July to the end of August.  Peach trees grow fast and will start producing a nice crop in the summer of 2019.

The addition of peaches to the orchard will expand the variety of fresh fruit that we can offer to hunger relief, as well as allow us to engage orchard volunteers earlier in the season.  Volunteers and team leaders have already been hard at work in the peach orchard helping prepare the plot and plant the new trees.  Other t20170505_125553asks to look forward to in the coming seasons are pruning, hand thinning the small fruitlets and harvesting a delicious crop of peaches!

The peach tree planting was made possible by a grant that was awarded to Community Harvest Project in 2016 by The Health Foundation of Central Massachusetts.  The grant also included funding for two acres of high density apple trees which were planted last year.

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Growing From Our Roots

 

image1Being the very fortunate stewards of a legacy that was built in Hopkinton in the 1970’s by our founders Bill and Rose Abbott we are constantly in awe of how much we have grown since their simple backyard operation began.  We like to think that they would be impressed with how we have organized and expanded over the years and by the large numbers of volunteers that we engage annually.  Going from small groups of neighborhood teenagers helping us grow to the over 10,000 community members that visit our farms annually has been no easy feat.    

It can be said that we are continuing to grow from our roots and that is why we are highlighting a great group from Hopkinton that has come out to continue the tradition of helping our neighbors in need.  The Hopkinton High EXCEL Program under the direction of Katie Hibbert and Tami Magnuson has found the farm to be a great resource for engaging the individuals attending their program.  This vocational based program for 18-22 year olds is designed to allow their participants to develop life skills, job placement skills and to spend time socializing within their community.  In addition the leaders of the program and the families involved are always focused on providing experiences for them to give back, learn more about their surrounding community and to get outdoors for some exercise.  Katie and Tami have even added an element of their programming that revolves around food and preparing easily replicated recipes that introduce more vegetables in order to encourage a healthier diet.  That makes a volunteer visit to our farm even more meaningful by combining farming and nutrition.

We always look forward to our Hopkinton EXCEL volunteers arriving for their weekly visits, both during the school season and for a portion of the summer months.  Over the past couple of years we have been able to engage them in every facet of our work.  Whether it is early spring planting, weeding plants or harvesting, washing and packaging they have done it all.  They are always willing to try new things and are quite adept at navigating through the farm tasks that they are given.  With that we want to thank the entire Hopkinton EXCEL team for choosing CHP as a place to contribute and give back to the community.  Their selfless volunteering over the last couple of years has been a part of the key to our successfully continuing the tradition of growing fresh and healthy produce for donation to those in our community experiencing food insecurity.

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Spring on the Farm 2017 Recap

_DSF7108Our April vacation camp, Spring on the Farm, took place at the end of last month. Three of the days we focused on macronutrients, including protein, fat, and carbohydrates, and the last day we focused on vitamins and minerals. On healthy protein day we first started by discussing why we need protein, and how to tell the different between healthy and unhealthy proteins. It is tricky, because sometimes a one protein can be healthy and unhealthy depending on how it is prepared (like grilled chicken vs fried chicken). Then we tasted different a few kinds of beans and lentils, then made all different varieties of bean burgers. We had some skeptics, but just about everyone found a version they liked.

Another day we learned about whole grains. We talked about what a whole grain is, why they are good for us, and did a tasting. We tried quinoa, barley, brown rice, and farro. Then we made our own sushi using a favorite whole grain, brown rice. Our education intern, Meghan, taught us about healthy fats and how to read a label to tell which fats are healthy and which aren’t. Then we cooked mini-frittatas with asparagus, peppers, and cheese.

_DSF7214We did a volunteer activity each day, and the kids became expert tomato transplanters and set up all of the harvest buckets to prepare for the upcoming season. We used soil kits to test the soil in the learning garden and talked about different ways we can get plants the nutrients they need. We tested for pH (which was slightly alkaline – 7.4) and levels of phosphorus and nitrogen (which were sufficient!). This was great prep for planting in the learning garden. The kids sowed seeds for beets, carrots, radishes, chard. They also learned about compost and turned the compost in our bins. We fit in a couple hikes through Grafton Land Trust trails where we played Spring Bingo and picked up trash to celebrate Earth Day.

It was a whirlwind week of activities! If your child was unable to come, we will be hosting a few educational opportunities at the farm this summer. We will be hosting 2 kids cooking classes on July 25th and August 8th, 2:30-4pm. Cost is $20 per child per class and kids in grades 4-7 are invited. Email tori@community-harvest.org to sign up – space is limited!

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May 2017 – Recipe of the Month: Garlic Almond Green Beans

Our volunteers love to harvest all of our vegetables, but green beans are a stand out favorite. They’re a delicious sign of summer that we want everyone to experience. Our May Recipe is a classic dish that cooks of all skills can make at home any night of the week.

Garlic Almond Green Beans

Adapted from Whisk Affair

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of green beans
  • 1 tbsp of butter
  • 1 tbsp of olive oil
  • 2 tsp of chopped garlic
  • ¼ cup of slivered almonds
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • ½ tsp red chili flakes

Heat the butter and olive oil in a pan. Once the oil is hot, add the garlic and fry until slightly browned. Add almonds and fry until browned. Then add the beans and salt and cook for an additional 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat. Sprinkle lemon juice and red chilli flakes on top and mix well. Serve hot!

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Why Does Susan Like Tuesdays?

row-signsAs you already know the work of farming is never done.  Even at our orchard it seems that the flow of work is never ending and always challenged by changing seasons and the challenges of weather.  The work of caring for the trees takes on significant importance right as the New Year arrives.  That is when pruning is critical work that needs to be completed while the trees are dormant.  While pruning we are looking to remove diseased branches and shape the trees to get the best and strongest branches.  By carefully evaluating each tree we are able to help the tree focus it’s energy and resources in the right places and hopefully allow the tree to be able to better bear the weight of the coming crop of fruit.  As you can guess we have a limited time to complete this arduous task in the over 30 acres of trees that we have on this property.

As always here at Community Harvest Project, when we have a need our great community of volunteers seems to always answer our call.  What started with one often becomes a team of many hands focused on helping us to complete the smallest of tasks and the largest of challenges.  That is exactly why Susan likes Tuesdays!  Over the last couple of years a team of volunteers in Harvard have come out to assist us in ensuring that our trees are pruned and ready for spring.  Just like the saying that is attributed to the carving on New York City’s main post office,   “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds” the Tuesday Team is always there to lend a helping hand.  Whether it be pruning the endless rows of trees, helping to cut and install all of our mouse guards or in helping to clear brush this team is on our side.  

So for that we would like to thank our Tuesday Team and applaud them for a job well done.  Their selfless efforts in all manner of weather has allowed Susan to get the orchard ready for bloom season.  Now that her days are changing she will be spending more time in the tractor and out amongst the trees monitoring them for pests and disease.  While she does this important part of her job she will be surrounded by the thousands of trees that were carefully cared for by this great team of volunteers.  Please join us in thanking and congratulating our Tuesday Team and applauding Peter Dorward, Jim Sicard, George Watkins, Russ Anderson, Mark Koutonen, Marc Sevigny, and Brian Noble for their amazing commitment and work on our behalf.  Their continuing commitment to the cause and amazing work at the orchard stands as a shining example of the community that surrounds us.  We could not do the work that we do without this type of support and applaud the Harvard Tuesday Team as our Volunteers of the Month.  We thank you for leading the charge and helping to put a bright spot on Susan’s weekly routine.  

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Where Are Our Interns Now? Part III

We know that we are always lucky to get some great college interns to spend time with us and learn more about the non profit, volunteer and farming worlds that keep this place moving forward.  We are also always struck by how having our farms serve as a great community resource that can really get students focused and thinking about their individual impact in the world.  We constantly marvel at where our interns end up landing with many finding their way in non-profit work, education, service or volunteer farming roles as they leave school and begin to plot their futures.  Two of last years interns have found themselves studying abroad this semester and are reporting back on their exciting experiences.  Both of their programs have a focus on food and farming and we could not wait to share their observations with you.   

Jenny Rubin, Clark University:
DSC_1256I’m studying abroad in Windhoek, Namibia for the semester and studying development, politics, religion, and culture. Through my classes and my experience, I’ve learned a lot about farming here in Namibia. This country is mostly rural, so a lot of subsistence farming happens here, about 30% or more of Namibians rely on farming for livelihood, mostly in the subsistence sector. Commercial farming of grains also contributes a lot to the country’s economy. However, most of the country’s formal and informal economy is based off of meat production, specifically cattle. Cattle grazing has been a cultural practice in Namibia throughout the country for centuries, and Namibia exports all the beef that feeds surrounding countries like South Africa in addition to supplying its own citizens as well. This week, my program is traveling to Khorixas, a town in the Northern region that is made up of mostly subsistence farmers. In this excursion, we will be able to learn a lot about how members of the town feed themselves and their families. I’ll also be able to learn a lot about the farming methods used by residents and be able to compare them to what I learned at CHP this past summer!

Leta Branham,  Clark University:
Screen Shot 2017-03-26 at 3.48.53 PMI never knew I was interested in agriculture and farming until interning at Community Harvest Project. I was originally attracted to working with Community Harvest Project because of their community involvement, but soon discovered that I really loved working on a farm. My summer internship developed into a fall internship, which meant that I got to see the farm transition into off season and really got to know the inner workings of managing a farm. My internship at CHP has cultivated a passion in agriculture, which I am applying to my major in International Development and Social Change by focusing on agriculture, environment and development. I’m currently studying abroad in Dakar, Senegal and taking an environment and development class which has allowed me to learn about farming practices in West Africa. Further, I got the opportunity to visit a small farming village for a week, where I got to work with local villagers on their farms. The best part about learning about agriculture here is finding similarities in farming practices across the globe, and understanding the reasons behind it from everything that I learned while interning. I’m looking forward to coming back to visit CHP and working once again on the farm that will forever have a place in my heart.

We hope that both Jenny and Leta continue to have a great experience as they wrap up their final weeks of the semester in Africa.  It is clear to us that both of these amazing young ladies are charting a path to the future that will have great impact on their communities.  We are proud of the work that they are doing and the fact that we were able to share in their growth.  The ability of CHP to share our resources with students and leave a lasting impression is  just one of the many reasons that this organization continues to grow.  

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New Year, New Improvements

Seeding.jpgThe sunnier, warmer days remind us that spring is here and summer is fast approaching. Our greenhouse crew has been working diligently since March to fill up our greenhouse with beautiful little seedlings, and before we know it, they will be transplanted into the fields. As we dive into the growing season, we have a few farming changes we are excited to share with you.

Each year, we like to introduce a handful of new crops into our rotation, to see both how they grow in our field conditions, and how they are received in the community. Our experimental garden will feature jicama, tatume (Mexican summer squash), tomatillos, ground cherries, and yard long beans. We are also testing out a few new versions of crops that we have grown in the past. These include Katarina cabbage, which is a smaller, palm sized cabbage, and Tasty Bites melon, which is an individual sized cantaloupe. We are hoping these might appeal to smaller households, who might not need larger sizes of these foods.

17435885_10155098447735917_7021844246332962627_oAs far as our farming practices go, we also have a few exciting changes. Weed pressure has always been an issue in between our mulched rows, and this year we are hoping to significantly reduce the problem. Thanks to a grant from Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, we were able to purchase two Farmall Cub tractors, which are specifically set up for cultivation of weeds. With these new tractors, we will be able to remove the weeds at a very early stage, and hopefully break the weed life cycle. The grant also allowed us to buy additional hand weeding tools to use in the places the cultivation tractors will not be able to go (trellised rows, or crops that grow very tall). Less weeds mean healthier plants and happier volunteers (and farmers!). We also received a grant from the George F. and Sybil H. Fuller Foundation that has allowed us to make needed improvements in our greenhouses and to our other tillage equipment. We can’t thank these donors enough for their support!

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Coming Soon: Plantapalooza!

Plantapalooza Pic. IIjpgSpring is here and that means it’s time for Community Harvest Project’s annual plant sale fundraiser, Plantapalooza, to be held Saturday, May 20th from 7:30am – 1:00pm at 37 Wheeler Road in North Grafton, MA (rain or shine).

Come visit our farm to buy all of the annuals, perennials, fruits, and vegetables you need to build a beautiful garden this season – edible or not! We will have a plentiful variety of heirloom tomatoes, native species, and herbs to spice up your garden. Our volunteer plant experts will assist you with your questions and help you find the perfect selection of plants to thrive in your yard.  Plus, the first 1,000 attendees receive a free 4-pack of tomato plants!

Mother’s Day is just around the corner and a Plantapalooza Gift Card is the perfect way to show your loved one just how much you care. Purchase one here and use it at Plantapalooza on all CHP plants or merchandise.

Plantapalooza PicWhile at Plantapalooza, make sure to check out the craft vendors, raffle, and stop by the CHP tent to learn more about out the work we do in the community. Community Harvest Project is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization and all proceeds support our mission of creating a healthy and engaged community through volunteer farming and nutrition education.

We’ll see you there!

Interested in become a vendor at Plantapalooza? Contact claudia@community-harvest.org for more information.

Interested in volunteering at Plantapalooza? Contact wayne@community-harvest.org for more information.

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April 2017 – Recipe of the Month: Sriracha Roasted Broccoli

Broccoli FeaturedSoon it will be time for baskets and baskets of broccoli! This nutritious vegetable is an excellent source of Vitamin C and fiber. While California produces the vast majority of broccoli in this country, we’re proud to produce locally grown broccoli right here in Grafton.  

Sriracha Roasted Broccoli

Adapted from Little Chef, Big Appetite

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons sriracha
  • 1 Tablespoon soy sauce
  • ½ teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 lb. broccoli crowns and peeled stems

Preheat your oven to 425°. In a large bowl, whisk together the olive oil, sriracha, soy sauce, sesame oil, honey and garlic. Add the broccoli to the bowl and toss to coat. Spread the broccoli mixture in an even layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Roast for 10 minutes, then remove from oven, flip and turn on the broiler. Broil the broccoli for 4-5 minutes more, until the edges are crisp. Allow the broccoli to cool for 3-5 minutes, then serve.

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