PHS Harvest aims to help food insecurity in a locally driven way

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The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society brings fun to the area—think the pop-up beer gardens and the annual Philadelphia Flower Show—but they also use their services to provide good as well.

As an internationally recognized nonprofit focused on gardening for the greater good, it only makes sense for the organization to streamline PHS Harvest. The PHS’ initiative acts as a collective action initiative focused on increasing food production and food security by mobilizing individual gardeners, community garden members, schools and institutions to plant food crops to share with their community.

“For decades, food insecurity has been an issue not only in the Greater Philadelphia region, but across America,” said Nancy Boutté Finn, Chief Development Officer for PHS in a statement. “Last year, we started Harvest as a response to the COVID-19 crisis and were able to support communities with the production of over 44,000 pounds of food. This year, we again ask our PHS community to join us in our efforts to learn to grow produce, and to share their harvest to make fresh and healthy food more accessible to our neighbors across the region.”

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According to the release, findings from Feeding America found that about 16.4% of children in Pennsylvania were food insecure. During the COVID-19 pandemic, this number has been projected to increase to about 17%. With this initiative, PHS will invite thousands of gardeners to grow (grow food for themselves and their family or community); to share (one who grows and commits to share food with a selected list of food relief organizations); or to donate (someone who supports Harvest efforts through a monetary donation). Community gardens, gardening groups, institutions, and schools are also welcome to participate. This year, anyone has the option to sign up as a Growing Team with family, friends, or neighbors to pool crops together, track their collective impact, and compete for prizes. This growing season, Harvest aims to again engage thousands in the Greater Philadelphia region to help grow fresh produce and to share with those most in need.

Michelle Payne, Mid-Atlantic Regional Vice President at Whole Foods Market also made a statement: “Working with the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society to support the important programs they lead in our community speaks to Whole Foods Market’s mission to care for our communities and nourish people and the planet. We are passionate about the Harvest program and proud to support this community-driven initiative providing food to our neighbors in Philadelphia.”

Overall, PHS Harvest will be focusing on a few key elements: Providing local gardeners, groups, and interested individuals with virtual resources on food growing and harvesting, including guides, checklists, and ongoing webinars; maintaining a list of local retailers and nurseries to get supplies and tools; connecting gardeners through social media channels and remote networking opportunities; partnering with community-based nonprofits to provide gardening supplies to low-income gardeners; creating and engaging community growing spaces to encourage increased food production both now and long-term; and maintaining a network of distribution agencies and partners to collect and share produce with local food banks.

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The release states that additional participating organizations in the Harvest initiative include: AmpleHarvest.org; Art-Reach; Bartram’s Garden; Chester County Food Bank; Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger; Cooperative Gardens Commission; Delaware Center for Horticulture; Food Bank of Delaware; Food Connect; The Food Trust; Mama-Tee Fridge; Neighborhood Gardens Trust; North Light Community Center; Philabundance; and Share Food Program.

Philadelphians can also play an individual part in helping this initiative: To pledge your support and grow as part of PHS Harvest and to donate to the cause, visit phsonline.org

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