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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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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March 2017 – Recipe of the Month: Turnip Chips & Dip

Turnip GreensTurnips are a New England staple that tend to get their moment in the fall as a component of hearty side dishes. However, there are varieties of turnips that can be found locally starting in early summer, such as Hakurei and Scarlet Queen, in addition to fall standards like Purple Top and Golden Ball. No matter what variety of turnip you’re preparing, you can use the greens to create a new dish. This recipe keeps it simple, and uses every last bit of your turnips. 

Turnip Chips & Dip

Adapted from With the Grains

Turnip Chips:

  • 10-12 small-medium turnips & greens
  • 1/2 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1-2 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric

Preheat your oven to 350°F. Wash, and slice the turnips thin. Set aside the turnip greens.In a large bowl, toss turnips with remaining ingredients; stirring to evenly coat them with oil and spices.Lay turnip chips flat on a baking sheet. Bake for 40-60 minutes, to desired crispness, flipping the turnips halfway through baking. Turnip chips are best enjoyed while still warm.

Turnip Dip:

  • 5-6 cloves of garlic, peeled and halved
  • 2-3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Your set aside turnip greens
  • Handful of fresh dill
  • Dash of freshly ground black pepper
  • ¾ cup full-fat Greek yogurt
  • ½ cup cashews (or nut of choice)

In a saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the butter, and sautee the garlic, until soft and lightly brown. Combine the remaining butter, the garlic, and the remaining ingredients in a food processor or blender. Pulse to desired consistency. Keep chilled until ready to serve.
Read the rest of the March Sprout!

Winter on the Farm Starts Next Week

 

pizzaWinter on the Farm is next week! With all the recent snow days you may have exhausted your inside entertainment, but we have the perfect opportunity for your 4th-7th grader. Winter on the Farm is held February 21-24, 8:30am-2:30pm at 37 Wheeler Road in Grafton. Sign up is by the day, so you can pick exactly which ones work in your schedule (or all 4!). Each day we do activities that focus on exposure to new food prepared in different ways, hands-on cooking, science, and the environment. Here’s what we have in store:

On Tuesday we will be highlight stems and leaves. We’ll discuss the roles stems and leaves perform for plants, and then do a leaf tasting. From there we will make kale chips and learn the basics of salad dressing before we launch into our salad dressing lab where each camper will create their own dressing. Even though many trees are without leaves, the conifers around the farm are still nice and green. We’ll learn about conifers then go on a hike to try to identify some. Next the kids will be plant detectives. We’ll learn a few ways to identify problems with plants, then diagnose some ailing house plants. We’ll finish off the day by learning about how greenhouses work and building our own from recycled materials.

Wednesday is all about seeds. 2 special guests and registered dieticians will stop by to make no-bake protein balls. We’ll look at a variety of seeds and their characteristics and then have a seed tasting. Two seeds will be focused on to make seed dips. For our daily outdoor activity we will be learning about seed dispersal and going for a hunt for seeds outside (you’d be surprised what we can find, even now!). In the afternoon we will be learning about complete proteins (many plant based ones come from seeds) and making seed packs.

On Thursday we move underground to root of the plants. We will do our daily tasting with all roots, then talk about the importance of breakfast and make some pancakes with a surprising root vegetable ingredient. We’ll head outside to do some animal tracking then come back in for lunch. Learning about go, slow, and whoa foods will be followed by a creative endeavor featuring some great “go” foods….root vegetables!

For our last day we will learn about flowers and pollinators. We’ll making dumplings with flowers and then spend some time outside. In the afternoon we’ll create feeders for a special pollinator, the hummingbird!

There are still a few spots left in Winter on the Farm! Register by the day for $50/each, or for all 4 days for $190. You child is sure to be kept busy and entertained throughout the days, all while learning about ways to customize nutritious foods, experiencing the great outdoors, and making new friends. Register here , and for more information email tori@community-harvest.org.

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Where Are Our Interns Now? Part II

interns-iiWe got such great feedback last month about our article on our Summer Internship Program that we figured we would continue to focus on the power of that program.  While winter seems as though it would be a quiet period here at the farm we are knee deep in planning for our 2017 Season.  A key piece of that process is to recruit for our Summer Internship Program with our college partners near and far.  There is time spent at local college recruitment events and on communication with students inquiring about spending their summer here at the farm.  Believe it or not by the end of March most students have their summer commitments in place so the next couple of weeks will be critical for our Internship Program.

We are extremely proud of the work that our interns engage in here at the farm and are even more excited when the seeds that we plant with them grow into great ideas and work after they leave us.  We thought that we would check in with a few more of our former interns and ask how the internship experience impacted them in making future decisions and updating us on what they are doing now.  The emails that we received speak for themselves and we are really proud of all of the students that we have been able to work with over the years.  We are also very proud of our ability to share the great resources of our farms to impact students, their understanding of non-profit work and how they use this learning in to make career decisions.  If you know of a college student looking for an opportunity for this summer please let them know that CHP is an option!  

Matt Moore, Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition and Policy, CHP Intern Class of 2015
Interning at CHP rounded out my food and agricultural education at graduate school by providing me with hands-on experience. Whether you’re trying to effect policy change or help someone eat healthier, it’s extremely important to consider all perspectives on food-related (or any field) issues. As an intern, I had the opportunity to plant vegetables, meet politicians, and engage with staff and volunteers from many different backgrounds. Food brings so many people together, and interning at CHP reinforced how integral it is to people’s lives, but also that there are no one-size-fits-all solutions to policy or nutritional questions. CHP certainly helped to prepare me for future work in the fields of food and nutrition. And of course, being able to literally see the fruits of your labor provides incredible motivation.

Claire Weston, Holy Cross, CHP Intern Class of 2015/2016
I am the Outreach Coordinator at a small non-profit (deja vu) called the Community Science Institute (CSI), that enlists volunteers to monitor water quality in nine different watersheds, including those that feed into Cayuga and Seneca Lake. I manage volunteers, coordinate events, create educational presentations and displays, and dabble in fundraising. From that description you can probably tell that working at CHP strongly guided my interests and influenced my projected career path. I’ve found that I have a strong desire to engage with the community in a meaningful way and I can say that, without a doubt, interning at CHP helped to cultivate that passion. Furthermore, CHP provided me with the skills needed to work effectively with large groups of volunteers and the awareness needed to guide and inspire them. As any CHP staff member can testify to, engaging the community and utilizing the passion and drive of volunteers is hard work but incredibly rewarding and of paramount importance. Finally, CHP prepared me for, and instilled in me, the desire to play an integral role as part of a small staff. I don’t fade into the background at CSI and interning at CHP made me really appreciate that. I felt valued at CHP, and so, moving forward, I have made it a point to maintain that sense of pride and importance in my work.   

Leta Branham, Clark University, CHP Intern Class of 2016 (currently studying in Senegal)
Interning at Community Harvest Project has really inspired what I want to focus my academics on. I’ve become very interested in food security and food justice, along with agriculture and issues of race. Studying in Dakar Senegal for the semester provides the perfect backdrop for all these interests to come together. While here, I’m taking classes in environment and development as well as history of the Atlantic Slave Trade. Additionally, I hope to learn about agricultural practices are here and how that relates to food justice, especially in a country where water is very scarce and expensive.

Stephanie McCulloch, Ithaca College, CHP Intern Class of 2015
During my junior year of college, I was offered an internship at two different nonprofit organizations, one of them being Community Harvest Project. At the time, I had become extremely passionate about food justice issues, and I was looking to learn more about how sustainable farming could play a role in remediating these issues.  Looking back, I know that I accepted the internship with CHP because I would truly be a part of their mission statement.

When I first started working for CHP, I did not know a lot about farming. However, within two and a half months, not only did I learn how to do everything to keep the land productive, but I became much more aware of how CHP’s work benefited the community. I believe it is CHP’s success in providing food to so many people in need that influenced me to continue on to graduate school. CHP has found a way to incorporate sustainable practices into its system while providing people with healthy food. It is the idea that all efforts to produce this food are not to make a profit, but to make a difference in a person’s life by promoting health that convinces me my efforts at Tufts can help me do the same. The incredible feelings of love, empowerment, and joy I had during my time at CHP, I hope to have again when I assist in making agriculture policy changes that benefit the health of people and the environment.

I owe a great deal to Community Harvest Project for giving me the bulk of my farming knowledge because without it, I would not understand the work involved in producing food. If I did not have this farming and educational experience, then I believe I would not be as prepared to determine what changes to the food system need to be made, from the soil plants are grown in and how the food is distributed. I have so much more to learn to make my career goals a reality, but interning for Community Harvest Project convinced me that working hard in this next life chapter will be worth it.

Read the rest of the February Sprout!

Winter at Prospect Hill Orchard

Orchard Pruning_Resized.jpgThe winter months at the orchard are busy ones.  We began pruning our roughly 3000 apples trees in the first week of January and will continue through the end of March.  It can be a daunting task but is a very satisfying one.  There is something gratifying about approaching a tree that has grown vigorously throughout the last season and carefully shaping and cutting the branches with the thought of the good fruit that is to come from your efforts.

Annual pruning is one of the most important cultural practices in apple growing for many reasons.   Probably the most obvious reason is to reduce tree size for its allotted space in the orchard. It is important to keep the aisles open for orchard equipment and easier harvesting.  We remove any large limbs first with a chainsaw.  Pruning is also used to form a strong framework that will support a heavy fruit load.  Broken, dead or diseased branches should always be removed, but the most important reason for pruning is thinning the branches so light penetrates throughout the tree.  Sunlight helps produce high quality fruit and the buds the fruit are grown from.

We have been very fortunate to have a few dedicated volunteers helping us prune.  These folks range from people who have a small orchard on their property to apples enthusiast and those who just enjoy working outdoors and wanted to learn a new skill.   If you are interested in helping us prune, we will be hosting an open volunteer day on Saturday, February  25th from 9am-12.  No experience is necessary but you will need to bring your own saw and loppers.  Click here for more information!

Read the rest of the February Sprout!