By Will Sulahian
This spring, residents in Montgomery County will have a new, outdoor space to explore, meet friends, and learn to grow and share food. The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s brand-new Green Resource Center at Farm Park in Norristown is dedicated to working with community members to increase their access to fresh food, encourage social connections, expand economic opportunity, and create a healthier living environment for everyone.
The PHS Green Resource Center at Farm Park will be a 2.5 acre teaching farm along Germantown Pike and will include agroecological practices such as crop rotation, cover crops, and other beneficial practices to improve the soil quality and microbiology. It will also have a diversity of crops and companion planting to assist in attracting pollinators. Community members visiting Farm Park will be met with a variety of newly planted trees, shrubs, pollinator gardens, and over 900 herbaceous plants, contributing to the park’s landscape. The Farm Park is an appealing spot to walk, jog, and socialize, and these new additions will offer further opportunities for parkgoers to enjoy nature and help garden for the greater good.
Food insecurity is faced by communities across the nation and world, and Montgomery County is no exception. Studies by Feeding America have shown that 7% of Montgomery County residents face food insecurity, and the COVID-19 pandemic has only made this issue more apparent. "We are providing tools to support networks of self-reliance and food sovereignty," says Justin Trezza, Director, PHS Community Gardens Program. "The ability to grow and share your own food — that is significant for so many people as it connects them back to the earth and their ancestry — is powerful in so many ways."
Funding from Montgomery County has made it possible for PHS to support a county-wide effort to engage and support gardeners to grow more food for themselves and their neighbors, and also support job training in partnership with the YWCA Tri-County Area for its culinary arts training program called Dignity Kitchen. Community members will be supported as they get involved and learn more about what they can do to promote food sovereignty.
PHS plans to increase community interaction with new programming. “Once safety guidelines permit, we’re going to introduce volunteer programs that allow people in the community to come and support our growing efforts,” says Trezza. The Center will be a place where gardeners can share their passion together, explore, and help others in their community. The public will be welcomed to garden together at the Farm and in community garden beds. PHS will offer educational programs about growing and sharing healthy food.
PHS invites everyone to visit, volunteer, and learn at the PHS Green Resource Center at Farm Park and support efforts to engage and teach gardeners to grow more food for themselves and their neighbors.