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Pennsylvania - Harvest for Hunger

  • Subject: [cg] Pennsylvania - Harvest for Hunger
  • From: Don Boekelheide dboekelheide@yahoo.com
  • Date: Tue, 8 Aug 2006 14:25:34 -0700 (PDT)

Delco Times,
Delaware County, PA

Harvest for Hunger: Rose Tree gardeners help community
Stephanie Whalen, Of the Times Staff

When Bettie Krom of Haverford Township first started
tending a 30- by 30-foot lot of soil at Rose Tree
Parks community gardens, she admitted her greatest
pleasure was seeing the seedlings she planted bloom
into full-fledged, ready-to-eat products. 

As a young girl she fondly remembered watching her
mother plant the family garden in a small space along
Cobbs Creek Park to save money, at a time that most of
the country was depending on food stamps during World
War II.

Those vegetables gave her family more than sustenance
-- it left childhood memories that would last a
lifetime in Kroms heart and mind.

It was a memory and healthy-eating lifestyle she
wanted to pass onto her own children and
grandchildren, so she signed up on a long waiting list
of gardeners hoping to grab a lot at Rose Tree Park 35
years ago.

Since then, the 77-year-old has been able to pass on
her mothers gardening legacy for nearly four decades.
Its only been in the last two years that her garden
has taken on a purpose other than her own enjoyment
and her grandchildrens pleasure.

Her tomatoes, peppers, beans, broccoli and lettuce
will be feeding families who dont have the money or
resources to grow their own gardens or feed their
children fresh vegetables, as part of Philabundances
Share the Harvest program.

The program, which started in 1994, aims to get
Delaware Valley residents personally involved in the
fight against hunger with a few simple tools --
generosity, seeds and a garden to grow vegetables,
said Philabundance Development Coordinator Lauren

Unlike conventional hunger drives that collect canned
goods donations, Pigeon said the Share the Harvest
program afforded hungry families the opportunity to
receive healthy, home-grown foods they wouldnt
normally be able to afford, like eggplant and acorn

Gardeners from across the Delaware Valley donate
thousands of vegetables left over in their gardens
each year and drop them off at Philabundance donor
locations, which are funneled to various area food
banks and community organizations.

"Ive donated canned goods to church drives before, so
I know how much people need food," said Krom, who has
become just as much a fixture at the community gardens
as sunflowers and bean sprouts.

"I just thought it was a great idea to donate my extra
fresh vegetables. I end up having so much leftovers at
the end of the season that I just give it all away
anyway. At least this way I know Im helping someone."

When a lot goes unused in Rose Tree Parks community
garden in Upper Providence, a group of gardeners agree
to chip in and contribute seeds that would eventually
feed needy families participating in the program.

By 11:30 a.m. last Saturday, local gardeners had
donated four bags of freshly harvested food. But the
broccoli, tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, peppers and
string beans could feed at least four families for

Pigeon said some of what the gardeners grow is also
used for educational purposes.

"Through our Community Kitchen, children are shown the
different kinds of produce that is grown and what its
nutritional value is to their everyday diet," said

Rose Tree gardener and Philabundance donor Trish
Buckley said most of the children benefiting from the
program had no idea homegrown carrots came from the
ground and peas grew in a pod.

"You should see the look on their faces when you pull
up a carrot from the ground," said Buckley. "They had
no idea that these vegetables didnt come from a can."

Perhaps it is because a can of peas costs less than
buying fresh ones in bundles.

At MacDade Malls Acme Market in Ridley Township, four
pre-shucked and cut ears of corn, one red, green and
yellow bell pepper and about 50 fresh string beans
cost about $12 -- thats $6 more per week a needy
family would have to spend for the same ingredients in
canned form.

In a month, that family would have paid about $50 for
fresh fruits and vegetables compared to about $24 in

Thats why Share the Harvest made perfect sense in
Delaware County, said Prospect Park resident Steve
Dalton, more familiarly known as the "mayor" and
"tiller man" to Rose Tree gardeners.

Originally from Philadelphia, Dalton was accustomed to
donating his vegetables to Philabundance every year
and was shocked that nothing like it existed in Delco
when he moved to the suburbs about three years ago.

"I saw a lot of waste," said Dalton. "Gardeners ended
up having more than enough vegetables by the end of
the season. People were looking for others who would
take their surplus."

So he contacted Share the Harvest and it helped him
set up a donation point at Rose Tree.

In the programs first year last year, Dalton said
gardeners and area residents who dropped off
vegetables at Rose Tree Park donated more than 300
pounds of products for needy families.

Of the 145 lots that exist at Rose Tree, he said about
95 percent donate regularly to the program.

Last year gardeners also chipped in and designated one
lot specifically for food donations. This year, four
of those gardens exist at Rose Tree.

He hopes the trend will continue for years to come.


The American Community Gardening Association listserve is only one of ACGA's services to community gardeners. To learn more about the ACGA and to find out how to join, please go to http://www.communitygarden.org

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