We are very excited about The Salvation Army’s partnership with the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS) City Harvest program. Our West Philadelphia garden is one of 45 community gardens in partnership with the Philadelphia Prison System; SHARE, a food distribution network; the Health Promotion Council of Southeastern Pennsylvania; Weavers Way Co-op and Farm. City Harvest has grown and donated 120,000 lbs of fresh produce---helping to feed 1,000 families each week of the growing season.
At The Salvation Army’s community garden located outside our West Philadelphia Corps Community Center, fresh produce abounds. According to Ginny Robinson, our chief gardener, “introducing fresh food to the surrounding neighborhood is a multi-pronged effort. They may not be used to cooking and eating fresh food or how to combine the produce with other items to make a tasty dish. Sometimes people need to be encouraged to try new things."
Ginny plans to give away plants again this year to encourage people to start a small vegetable garden in their yards. Ginny says, “The introduction of fresh produce to adult community members is crucial in changing not only their eating habits, but more importantly, the habits of their children.”
“Just changing the eating habits of one family can lead to changing the habits of the entire neighborhood. Urban neighborhoods are very close knit so if one family starts enjoying fresh produce, their neighbors are going to find out about it and want some too - a fresh food plague could get started!”
This spring Ginny will be planting giant sunflower seeds for sunflowers that will grow as high as 16 feet tall, creating a sunflower forest for the children. She’ll also be showing the children how to plant seeds so they can watch them go from seed to plants to food.
The Salvation Army seeks to provide seniors in our low-income residential facilities in Greater Philadelphia with activities that even those with limited physical abilities can enjoy. One such activity is the Senior Gardening Program at both The Salvation Army's Booth Manor and Ivy Residence.
These gardens help promote healthy emotional, social and physical health. Participating in the project has allowed the residents to not only help themselves, but to impact the larger senior community.
Thanks to a generous donation, The Salvation Army was able to secure an intern from the University of Sciences to assist in preparing a health conscious cook book for the senior residents.
In partnership with The Food Trust and Supportive Older Women's Network Living Healthy Lives program, the residents learned how to pick healthy fruits and vegetables from the grocery store and how to analyze the contents of packaged food to optimize healthy food options. They also visited a local farmer's market.