This post was sponsored by PHeaSt and the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society
Our biggest loves at Spoonful are cooking at home, sharing food with friends and loved ones, and supporting makers, so naturally, we love the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s one-of-a-kind City Harvest program. City Harvest is an elegant, community-based solution to the problem of hunger and food security in our community in Philadelphia.
City Harvest’s work begins in the Philadelphia incarceration system. Through a prison greenhouse program, inmates start seedlings for vegetable plants — tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, cucumbers, kale, and fresh herbs — they learn the skills of growing food and landscaping. City Harvest then collects the leafy results of their work, packed into countless black trays, along with thousands more seedlings grown by other non-profit partners.
The organization distributes these seedlings to more than 150 urban farms and community gardens. Those with a green thumb volunteer their skills to tend the little plants throughout the growing season. These community gardeners might divide their 3’x6’ raised bed in half — some kale and tomatoes to feed their own families, and some more for City Harvest. They trellis the tomatoes, they watch to ensure that the harlequin beetles don’t take over the collards, they water through the hot summer, and they pull the weeds.
When harvest time arrives, the goodwill of the program culminates. Gardeners harvest ripe vegetables, City Harvest returns to pick them up, and they deliver these to small scale community-based food pantries that either use the produce to prepare hot meals, or distribute them directly to those who can use them to cook at home.
It’s a labor-intensive system, but it’s one that pays-forward the talent and goodwill of everyone along the line — from the hands that plant the seed to those who reap the harvest. With work like this, we feed our neighbors, and we are fed, too. City Harvest demonstrates love and care-taking in beautiful, ordinary things; squeaky fresh eggplants and the green fragrance of ripe tomatoes.
This year, we’re thrilled to lend our support to PHeaSt, a one night event supporting the City Harvest program. Philadelphia’s top restaurants will be there, alongside featured local growers, so guests to the event will enjoy a version of the garden-to-table dining experience that City Harvest aims to offer all of the city’s residents. Add fresh cocktails, craft beer, and gardening tips to the beautiful setting at the Philadelphia Navy Yard and we’re sure it’ll be an evening to remember.