Pennsylvania Horticultural Society celebrates first year assisting food insecure neighbors

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PHS got a portion of the $1 million Montgomery County received in CARES Act money to launch the Green Resource Center to help combat food insecurity and increase workforce development. Now the center has $450,000 from the Recovery Act, distributed by Montgomery County’s Recovery Office, to use over the next two years, Trezza said.

About 7% of Montgomery County residents (about 58,000 people) are experiencing food insecurity, according to Feeding America.

“With inflation and continued rising costs for food, there is a need for broad collective action to support the health and wellbeing of communities,” the PHS said in a written statement.

Trezza said the PHS has used the past year to “get to know the land.”

Lansana Waritay is the Food Pantry Coordinator for ICNA Relief in Norristown. He picks the produce with PHS volunteers. (Courtesy of ICNA Relief)

“A lot of the land was being traditionally grown on before — soy and corn,” Trezza said. “So we had to do a lot of work to replenish the nutrients … add a lot of organic matter to the soil.”

The PHS also spent much of the first year building community partnerships with organizations like ICNA Relief, the YWCA’s Dignity Kitchen (a worker development program in Pottstown), Norristown Sprouts Community Garden, and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Karabots Primary Care Center.

Lansana Waritay, the Food Pantry Coordinator for ICNA Relief in Norristown, delivers some of the fresh produce to an Afghan refugee community in Northeast Philadelphia. (Courtesy of ICNA Relief)

Trezza said the PHS wants to continue to nurture those partnerships and develop new ones. It also wants to bring more community members to the farm to learn about farming.

And in the next few years, PHS leaders hope to be able to offer even more produce — including fresh apples, pomegranates, pawpaws, plums, figs, raspberries, blueberries, and kiwis.


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