PHILADELPHIA – In May of this year, PHS launched Harvest 2020, a multi-faceted initiative to mobilize individuals in the Greater Philadelphia area to grow food for themselves and their neighbors.
This effort has enabled more than 10,471 gardeners to donate 33,981 pounds of produce to organizations fighting hunger across the region during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Almost 12% of households in the Greater Philadelphia area are food insecure, and that number is expected to double due to COVID-19. Many pantries have seen a 50% increase in demand in recent months, reinforcing the need for broad collective action to support the health and well-being of local communities.
As part of the Harvest 2020 initiative, PHS:
- Equip local gardeners with online educational resources on growing and harvesting food
- Gardeners connected to local retailers and nurseries, many of which offered home delivery services, contactless product pickup, and the ability to order online
- Creation of an online library of learning guides for new gardeners to learn how to grow, maintain and harvest a garden of healthy edibles
- Gardeners connected to each other for mentorship and resources through remote networking opportunities
- Partnering with community-based non-profit organizations to help people in underserved communities grow and share food
- Mobilization of a network of distribution agencies to collect and share products with local food banks
âCOVID-19 has amplified the need for people to learn how to grow fresh, healthy food for themselves and their neighbors,â said Julianne Schrader, PHS vice president and head of healthy neighborhoods. âPHS works with gardeners, volunteers and partner organizations to advance the health and well-being of our region, and their collective support has been vital in the lives of our neighbors this growing season.
Several organizations have contributed to the success of the PHS initiative, including anti-hunger organizations such as AmpleHarvest.org, Chester County Food Bank, Food Connect, Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger, SHARE and Philabundance. PHS has also partnered with the Sankofa Community Farm in Bartram’s Garden and the Cooperative Gardens Commission’s existing network of experienced gardeners to provide additional training, mentors and community resources to gardeners.