ABOVE PHOTO: The new PHS Green Resource Center at Norristown Farm Park (Photos: Pennsylvania Horticultural Society and Montgomery County, Pa.)
In 2021, The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (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.
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% 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.”
“The PHS Green Resource Center at Farm Park has grown to become an important component of Montgomery County’s efforts to battle food insecurity,” said PHS’s VP and chief of healthy neighborhoods, Julianne Schrader Ortega. “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.
For information and to support this work, please visit: PHSonline.org.