By Will Sulahian
PHS Community Gardens address a vital, basic need in the Greater Philadelphia region — access to fresh food. Food insecurity is a critical issue in Philadelphia, with 16.3% of the population struggling to keep food on the table. This number is expected to increase to 21.2% this year due to continued coronavirus issues. PHS helps by supporting a network of 150 community gardens with education, resources, and supplies as they grow crops specifically to share and donate to community members and food pantries. Not only do these gardens grow food, they also act as a social hub, connecting neighbors and providing a welcoming space where people can congregate safely outdoors.
PHS is busy preparing for the first seedling distribution on April 3. Participating PHS community gardens will receive a total of 75,000 seedlings to plant, grow, harvest, and share. In addition, 2,500 seed packets will be distributed for direct sowing by these local gardeners. Organic pest control and other resources will also be supplied, making the growing process much more efficient for local community members. New this year, gardeners in the network can borrow tools from the soon-to-be-open PHS McLean Urban Agriculture Tool Library at Glenwood Green Acres.
PHS never stops working to maintain and support the community garden sites, from building raised beds to helping gardeners prep the soil. One recent upgrade includes the building of 100 raised beds at Growing Home Gardens in South Philadelphia (pictured above). These gardens were originally created to allow recent immigrants to grow crops from their culture, and PHS currently works with the Southeast Asian Mutual Assistance Association Coalition, the organization that now manages the gardens. In addition, work has been done at other community gardens to get them ready for this growing season. A new gazebo was installed at Aspen Farms along with more ADA-compliant walkways. At Five Loaves Two Fish garden, a new shed was installed this past January. Additionally, plans are underway to launch a private web page where gardeners in the network can request support.
Keeping our “gardening for the greater good” philosophy at the top of our impact priorities ensures that people living in the Greater Philadelphia region will have access to fresh, nutritious food. Click here to find out where the community garden closest to you is located!