What is CHP’s Mission?
Community Harvest Project is a non-profit farm that engages volunteers to grow fresh fruits and vegetables to provide to those experiencing hunger. Through our volunteer farming programs, education initiatives, and community partnerships, we bring thousands of community members together each year to improve access to healthy foods for individuals and families in need across Worcester County.
What is CHP’s Story?
The story begins with Bill and Rose Abbott, who owned Elmwood Farm in Hopkinton. In the early 1970’s, after witnessing countless neighbors struggling to afford fresh produce for their families, the Abbott’s began to donate vegetables from their farm and invited community members to be part of the growing process. As their effort grew, they incorporated “Food for the Needy” in 1998. They devoted their lives to this effort, eager to see it succeed beyond their lifetimes.
A few years after Bill and Rose passed, in 2001, Elmwood Farm was left in a trust and was recently sold to the Town of Hopkinton. It will be preserved as open land for community use. The owners of Crater-Ferraro Realty LLC Ken Crater and Peg Ferraro who worked closely with Bill for years through Food for the Needy, purchased Brigham Hill Community Farm in 2000. They lease the land at no charge to the Yesod Foundation, who then makes it available for use by many organizations. In 2002 Food for the Needy moved to its present facility and was renamed Community Harvest Project; though the name changed, the mission did not. Bill always said the farm has two crops: the produce that is donated for hunger relief and the volunteers whose lives are impacted by their experience. The first season produced 35,000 pounds of produce from 300 volunteer visits. The following year, the farm hired its first volunteer coordinator and staff member, and our current Operations Director, Ken Dion.
Since then, CHP has grown exponentially every year. After David and Vickie Cheney saw an article about CHP, they got onboard by offering use of their orchard in Brimfield from 2010 to 2014. Additionally, when the Brigham Hill fields filled up in 2010, one of our board members and neighbor David White, along with his wife Shirley, welcomed expansion into his family farm across the street. CHP leases and farms both the properties in Grafton, but each of the landowners is a tribute to the Abbott’s vision of a community-based farm for those in-need.
In November of 2014 and anonymous donor generously gifted a 75 acre property at Prospect Hill Farm in Harvard to Community Harvest Project. The property includes 30 acres of apple orchard and almost an acre of vegetable farm. A small portion of the apples from Prospect Hill Farm are sold to support CHP operations.
Who are your major partners?
The majority of our high quality, fresh produce is donated to the Worcester County Food Bank who then distributes throughout their hunger relief network. A large amount of our seconds are donated to Community Servings, a meal program for those living with critical and chronic illnesses based in Jamaica Plain. We manage a few smaller distributions with special partners including the Farm to Health Initiative, Hector Reyes House in Worcester, and the Grafton Food Pantry right down the street from us.
Where does your funding come from?
Our funding primarily comes to us through grant funding, corporate sponsors, a broad base of individuals and families, and fundraising events.