The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS) believes all people can play a role in combating food insecurity. PHS is launching Harvest 2020, a multi-faceted initiative aimed at mobilizing 100,000 gardening enthusiasts and other individuals in the Greater Philadelphia region to grow food for themselves in their individual gardens, share food grown within their communities and with local hunger relief organizations, donate funds for food gardening education, or to help supply gardening resources to people in underserved communities. The initiative is timely with the food growing season underway, along with the increased demand for fresh food during the COVID-19 crisis. The expected collective action from Harvest 2020 will bring at least five million pounds of fresh produce to Philadelphia-area kitchens and food banks, supporting the health and well-being of communities across the region.
Philadelphia currently ranks in the top 10 U.S. cities with food insecure residents. Almost 12% of households in the Greater Philadelphia region are food insecure, with that number expected to double as a result of COVID-19 Many food pantries have experienced a 50% increase in demand over the last few weeks, thereby heightening the need for broad collective action.
“For decades, many of our neighbors in Philadelphia have struggled to access enough food to live healthy, active lives,” said Matt Rader, PHS President. “PHS is able to bring together people across the region to garden for the greater good, in partnership with local hunger relief agencies and community partners to provide the foundation for the Harvest 2020 initiative. With more than 40 years of experience in providing resources and education to gardeners and local communities, PHS is well-suited to lead this initiative.” Rader continues, “PHS believes everyone can make a difference – regardless of gardening experience – and we’re here to get thousands of people working to help combat food insecurity this year.”
The current PHS community is comprised of over 300,000 people and works in more than 250 neighborhoods throughout the Greater Philadelphia region. Harvest 2020 will involve thousands of gardeners around Philadelphia by asking them to commit as a grower (someone who grows food for themselves and their family); a sharer (one who commits to donating food through hunger relief organizations or directly within their communities); or a donor (someone who supports Harvest 2020 efforts through a monetary donation). Harvest 2020 has been designed for anyone to participate, from individuals that haven’t gardened before and are looking for healthy food for their family, to those with gardening expertise that can grow enough to share and help support food banks that serve those most in need.
“COVID-19 has amplified the need to provide fresh and healthy food to people throughout the region,” PHS’s Chief of Healthy Neighborhoods, Julianne Schrader Ortega states. “PHS already works with gardeners, volunteers, and partner organizations to advance the health and well-being of our region, and their collective support is needed now more than ever. Harvest 2020 can play a vital role in our neighbors’ lives this growing season.”
As part of the initiative, PHS plans to:
* Equip local gardeners with online education resources on food growing and harvesting
* Connect gardeners to local retailers and nurseries, many of whom are offering home delivery services, no-contact pick up, and the ability to place orders online
* Connect gardeners to each other for mentoring and resources through remote networking opportunities
* Partner with community-based nonprofits to support people in underserved communities to grow and share food
* Mobilize a network of distribution agencies to collect and share produce with local food banks
PHS has brought together a number of organizations to aid in the success of this initiative, including hunger relief organizations such as AmpleHarvest.org, the Chester County Food Bank, Food Connect, Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger, SHARE, and Philabundance. PHS is also partnering with the Cooperative Gardens Commission’s existing network of experienced gardeners to provide additional education, mentors, and community resources to help people start growing food as quickly as possible.
Partners are welcome to participate in Harvest 2020 by providing donations to support the initiative. Sponsors are also invited to participate, with a number of opportunities available to help PHS amplify its food growing/sharing message across Greater Philadelphia. Potential partners and sponsors should contact Jimmy Owens, VP Business Development, at email@example.com.
For more information on Harvest 2020, or to pledge as a grower, sharer, or donor, visit PHSonline.org/harvest2020, or call 215.988.8897. Updates on the initiative can be found via PHS’s social media using #PHSHarvest2020.
The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, 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.