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The Yankee Express

CHP buys barn and land

In December 2023, the Community Harvest Project (CHP) purchased the acreage the organization has farmed for more than two decades. The land was previously leased from Ken Crater and Peg Ferraro who were among the founders of the non-profit farming organization that works with volunteers to grow fruits and vegetables for hunger relief.
The pair offered the property to CHP last year which paid $800,000 for two parcels at 33 and 37 Wheeler Road. 
The land is held under a conservation restriction that prevents commercial development. Community Harvest Project (CHP) is a non-profit farm. A total of 15 acres was acquired in a capital campaign without a lot of fanfare and with grants, CHP Executive Director Tori Buerschaper said.
Over $600,000 came from grants by six foundations and the remainder was fundraised by CHP board members from a dozen donors who wish to remain anonymous.
If asking for money sounds like easy work, it isn’t. There’s more “nose to the grindstone” than you might think.
“There were a number of discussions upfront to make it so we had an invitation, so we don’t just out of the blue, just make an application for multiple hundred thousands of dollars. There are many conversations that happen ahead of time,” said Buerschaper, attributing the majority fundraising to the CHP board. 
Together with the CHP’s grant writer, Buerschaper worked to pull together some smaller grants. The fundraising goal was reached in December, the same month they closed on the property, she said.
There are no plans for changes to the property’s uses. It’s the security that comes with owning the land that allows for more forward thinking, she said.
“So we are undergoing a strategic planning process, “ Buerschaper said. 
A strategic planning group held its first meeting on February 8 and through that process Community Harvest will consider what changes may be made in the future to its programs.  
“We are planning to continue farming with volunteers,” she reassured. “What is different is that in the past, we had a landlord who was the one managing not all of the building projects, but a number of them. So now that is our responsibility, but also we have a little bit more freedom.” 
What CHP is doing right now is better assessing the cost of barn maintenance and upkeep, especially now that we are owners, said Buerschaper.  They’re looking at a roof replacement in the next decade as well as redoing the parking lot. 
“I’m taking more time understanding the cost and scope of projects like this and then building them into our operating budget and our fundraising plan,” she said.
More than another type of organization, CHP is extremely reliant on the land on which it sits on to execute its programs, she said.
“That familiarity is a huge asset to us. Especially when it comes to farming, it’s not just familiarity, it’s our ability to steward year to year and really care for the soil in a way that makes our faming successful and sustainable,” she said.
“We see this as a huge vote of confidence from our founder Ken that we continue to execute the vision he has had. This is a sign that we are here to stay and continue providing our services and to do it in a way that we can make those long term plans and adapt as needed.”
According to its website, CHP produce is distributed to partner organizations like traditional food banks, pantries for medically-tailored meal programs as well as free fridges so fresh produce can reach people where they are.
For volunteer opportunities with CHP, visit