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The Flower Show

Pennsylvania Horticultural Society Opens Green Resource Center in Norristown Farm Park to Public

October 11, 2022

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PHS Green Resource Center at Norristown Farm Park

New Montgomery County Facility Helps to Increase Food Production  and Improve Education for Residents  

October 11, 2022 – Philadelphia, PA – On Monday October 10, 2022, The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS) hosted a press conference and ribbon cutting ceremony to officially open the PHS Green Resource Center at Farm Park to the public. In 2021, PHS announced plans to establish a new Green Resource Center in Montgomery County’s Norristown Farm Park. The newly built PHS Green Resource Center at Farm Park spans 3 acres with amenities and services to benefit the local community. It includes: a 2-acre teaching farm utilizing organic growing practices, a greenhouse with heating and cooling systems powered in part by solar energy, shade area for seedlings, a wash station, a pavilion for public programming, pollinator gardens, and 45 community garden beds.  

In attendance at the press conference were several volunteers, PHS staff members and supporters. The speaking roster included: 

  • Matt Rader — President, Pennsylvania Horticultural Society 
  • Justin Trezza — Director of Community Gardens, Pennsylvania Horticultural Society 
  • Dr. Valerie Arkoosh — Chair, Montgomery County Board of Commissioners 
  • Kenneth Lawrence, Jr. — Vice Chair, Montgomery County Board of Commissioners 

For photos, please visit here. 
Credit: The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society and Montgomery County, PA 

Since its construction in 2021 and first growing season in 2022, the PHS Green Resource Center at Farm Park has been busy supporting several Montgomery County institutions with its organically grown fresh produce. PHS will continue to support these organizations and others while increasing its direct support of community gardens located in both Norristown and Pottstown to grow and share food. In total, over 6,000 pounds of locally grown organic produce has been harvested and shared with the local Norristown and Pottstown community from this growing season. Some organizations that have benefited from PHS’s work include:  

  • ICNA Relief – beneficiary of 1,415 pounds of produce going to their food pantry  
  • Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Karabots Primary Care Center – beneficiary of 850 pounds of produce for families in need 
  • Creative Health Services – beneficiary of 1,634 pounds of produce for its Food as Medicine / Veggie Rx program 
  • Norristown Sprouts Community Garden – beneficiary of 3,000+ seedlings to support 40 community garden beds 
  • YWCA Tri-County Area – beneficiary of 410 pounds of produce going to Dignity Kitchen 

With the official opening to the public of the PHS Green Resource Center at Farm Park, PHS has several scheduled public events planned. PHS will partner with Norristown Farm Park’s Environmental Education team to offer field trips to students and other groups to teach visitors about the importance of food gardening and offer hands-on gardening education. It will also host Farm Education and Work and Learn Days where volunteers can learn about gardening, socialize, and assist with harvesting, weeding, pruning, and other light gardening activities to keep the farm healthy and productive while forming social connections with one another.  

With funding from Montgomery County, the PHS Green Resource Center at Farm Park has supported a county-wide effort to engage and support gardeners to grow more food for themselves and their neighbors, which has become critically important since the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Feeding America’s “Map the Meal Gap” studies, 7 percent of Montgomery County residents are currently facing food insecurity with an estimated 58,000 residents affected. With inflation and the continued rising costs for food, there is a need for broad collective action to support the health and well-being of local communities. The PHS Green Resource Center at Farm Park provides access to fresh food and helps to cultivate strong social connections across barriers of age, language, and race. 

“In its first year of operation, the PHS Green Resource Center at Farm Park has made tremendous progress in distributing locally grown organic produce to people in our region who need it most,” said Dr. Val Arkoosh, Chair of the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners. “We are proud to support the garden’s continued growth to further our efforts to reduce food insecurity in Montgomery County and improve access to fresh, healthy food.” 

PHS’s VP and Chief of Healthy Neighborhoods, Julianne Schrader Ortega, states, “The PHS Green Resource Center at Farm Park has grown to become an important component of Montgomery County’s efforts to battle food insecurity. We are thrilled to continue being able to support residents with nutritious food while educating them about the importance and joy of food gardening.” 

PHS’s work in Montgomery County is part of its core mission of using horticulture to advance health and well-being. Through its innovative suite of programs, PHS creates healthier living environments, increases access to fresh food, grows economic opportunity, and helps build deeper social connections between people. PHS accomplishes this by providing gardening education, support, and resources throughout the region including Philadelphia, Norristown, Chester, and more. 

BACKGROUND: 
On March 27, Congress passed, and the President signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which established a new $150 billion Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) for state, county, and municipal governments with populations of over 500,000 people to address necessary expenditures incurred due to the COVID-19 public health emergency. Montgomery County received  

$145 million to assist with the COVID-19 response. To combat food insecurity and bolster workforce development for Montgomery County residents impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners approved $1 million in CARES Act funding for the County’s Food Security Assistance and Workforce Development Program which in part is helping to fund the PHS Green Resource Center at Farm Park.  

During its August 18, 2022 board meeting, the Montgomery County Commissioners allocated an additional $450,000 to the PHS Green Resource Center at Farm Park. Funding was provided through the County's American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to continue operations to address food security in both Norristown and Pottstown. 

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

  ABOUT MONTGOMERY COUNTY, PA 
Montgomery County, Pennsylvania is one of the most diverse, historic, and economically vibrant counties in America. As the third largest county in Pennsylvania, more than 850,000 people call Montgomery County home. Within its 487 square miles, Montgomery County offers award-winning trails and parks, including Valley Forge National Historic Park. There are also countless locations to shop, take in a show, or enjoy a wide range of local food and drink. County officials and employees take pride in serving the people who live, work, and visit Montgomery County. To learn more, visit www.montcopa.org. 

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