Volunteers at CHP in Massachusetts grow and donate fresh food to people in need!

Started in the 1970's by a couple who wanted to help their neighbors in need access fresh foods, Community Harvest Project, Inc. (CHP) exists today to build an engaged and healthier community by bringing volunteers together to grow fresh fruits and vegetables for hunger relief. All of the produce grown on our sites in Grafton, Massachusetts, is planted, transplanted, harvested, washed, and boxed for distribution by volunteers of all ages and abilities.

Volunteers can schedule a visit to the farm as groups (schools, churches, corporate and community groups) or you can drop-in as individuals or families Monday-Saturday in season May-September. In 2014, we grew and donated over 268,000 lbs of produce - or about 1.1 million servings - with the help of over 9,900 volunteers. All of this fresh produce was donated to people in need across Worcester County through partner organizations including: Farm to Health Center Initiative (partnership between Family Health Center of Worcester, UMASS Medical Student Team, and CHP), Worcester County Food Bank, Seventh Day Adventist Church, Grafton Food Pantry, Hector Reyes House, and Community Servings.

The Farm to Health Center Initiative has been instrumental in helping us get to better know the people we serve. One patron shared with us that she lost 20 pounds while using the produce from the weekly distributions at the Family Health Center of Worcester. This was after trying other methods to reach a healthy weight - she found that because cost was not a barrier to getting the food and because it was available on a regular basis, she was better able to incorporate healthy eating habits into her diet and reap the benefits. She shared with us that she would go on to be an advocate for healthy eating to other patients at the health center.

With the help of a team of UMASS Medical students, this story and so many more inspire us to find ways to improve access to healthy foods for those who need it! We were given a new site in Harvard, Massachusetts, where we have expanded.

Find out more about how to support or get involved with the farm at www.community-harvest.org. For information on volunteering, please contact [email protected].

Visit theĀ Community Harvest Project's Facebook page for fantastic photos of volunteers building community and making a difference.