New Food Growing and Sharing Initiative
Provided Fresh Produce to Families in Need
In May of this year, PHS launched Harvest 2020, a multi-faceted initiative aimed at mobilizing individuals in the Greater Philadelphia region to grow food for themselves and their neighbors.
To date, the effort has resulted in more than 10,471 gardeners donating 33,981 pounds of produce to hunger relief organizations throughout the region during the COVID-19 pandemic.
PHS believes all people can play a role in combating food insecurity. Philadelphia currently ranks in the top 10 U.S. cities with food insecure residents. Almost 12% of households in the Greater Philadelphia region are food insecure, with that number expected to double as a result of COVID-19. Many food pantries have experienced a 50% increase in demand over the past few months, thereby heightening the need for broad collective action to support the health and well-being of local communities.
As part of the Harvest 2020 initiative, PHS:
- Equipped local gardeners with online education resources on food growing and harvesting
- Connected gardeners to local retailers and nurseries, many of whom offered home delivery services, no-contact produce pick-up, and the ability to place orders online
- Created an online library of learning guides for new gardeners to learn to grow, maintain, and harvest a garden of healthy edibles
- Connected gardeners to each other for mentoring and resources through remote networking opportunities
- Partnered with community-based nonprofits to support people in underserved communities to grow and share food
- Mobilized a network of distribution agencies to collect and share produce with local food banks
“COVID-19 amplified the need for people to learn to grow fresh and healthy food for themselves and their neighbors,” PHS’s VP and Chief of Healthy Neighborhoods, Julianne Schrader Ortega states. “PHS works with gardeners, volunteers, and partner organizations to advance the health and well-being of our region, and their collective support was vital in our neighbors’ lives this growing season.”
Several organizations aided in the success of the PHS initiative, including hunger relief organizations such as AmpleHarvest.org, the Chester County Food Bank, Food Connect, Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger, SHARE, and Philabundance. PHS also partnered with Sankofa Community Farm at Bartram’s Garden and the Cooperative Gardens Commission’s existing network of experienced gardeners to provide additional education, mentors, and community resources to gardeners.
ABOUT THE PENNSYLVANIA HORTICULTURAL SOCIETY
The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS), an internationally recognized nonprofit organization founded in 1827, plays an essential role in the vitality of the Philadelphia region by creating healthier living environments, increasing access to fresh food, growing economic opportunity, and building deeper social connections between people. PHS delivers this impact through comprehensive greening and engagement initiatives in more than 250 neighborhoods; an expansive network of public gardens and landscapes; year-round learning experiences; and the nation’s signature gardening event, the Philadelphia Flower Show. PHS provides everyone with opportunities to garden for the greater good as a participant, member, donor, or volunteer. For information and to support this work, please visit PHSonline.org.