When Annie Stegink graduated from Calvin College with an engineering degree, she wasn’t sure what to do with it. She knew she didn’t want to sit at a desk and work at a computer all day. Instead she thought fondly of the days she had driven tractor and baled hay on her uncle’s farm. Most of all, she wanted to do something that served the Lord.
Enter Community Harvest Project (CHP). The organization, which is based in Massachusetts, grows fruits and vegetables and donates them to Worcester County Food Bank’s hunger relief network and to the Farm to Health Center Initiative.
Stegink was hired on in 2013. “I started as a field hand, but after about a month, I moved into the role of farm supervisor,” she said.
“We decide what to grow based on nutritional value, demand, and production efficiency,” Stegink explained. In 2014, the organization donated close to 300,000 pounds of produce throughout Worcester County.
Stegink believes the work they do complements the work the local food pantries are doing. Often food grown on farms doesn’t have a long shelf life and is difficult for pantries to store. “Because of the distribution system set up at the Worcester County Food Bank, smaller agencies can select what they can store and easily distribute,” she said. CHP also provides simple recipes for how to prepare what they grow.
“I am surrounded by creation and get to live out my Christian faith on a daily basis,” Stegink said. “[CHP] quite literally gives the first fruits of our labor to those in need.”