Monthly Archives: June 2019

Water Garden Tour Benefits Food Bank (July 27-28)

One of the more unique events of the summer in Chester County is right around the corner, as the Brandywine Valley Water Garden Weekend Tour is slated for July 29-30.

The origins of the event can be traced back to 2005, when a group of approximately 30 pond enthusiasts gathered to use their interest in the elaborate water gardens built by Coatesville-based Turpin Landscaping as a vehicle for philanthropy. The Tour Committee has raised more than $145,000 for the Food Bank.

“It started as a small group who wanted to give something back to the community,” said Sarah Turpin, who co-owns Turpin Landscaping with her husband Jason, whom customers often refer to as an aquatic artist. “This year, we expect to have about 400 people.”

Self-guided tours are $45, while bus-guided tours are $75. Tickets can be purchased by clicking here.

The tour includes 40 different ponds, all of which Turpin Landscaping has worked on, and a country barbecue, live music, and auction.

In 2009, upon the suggestion of Sen. Andy Dinniman, the Tour directed its efforts to supporting a newly created organization, the Chester County Food Bank.

“The Food Bank’s mission of providing food to those in need right here in our community blended well with the Brandywine Valley Water Garden Tour Committee’s desire to give back to the local community,” said Sarah Turpin.

 

“The Water Garden Tour and Turpin Landscaping were one of the first contributors to the Food Bank when we started in November 2009,” said Larry Welsch, Executive Director of the Chester County Food Bank. “From the team at Turpin, to the Tour Committee members, to all of the garden hosts, this event is truly a community coming together to help those struggling with food insecurity in Chester County.”

One $45 ticket to the Tour will provide 17 meals through the Food Bank.

“We are so very grateful and honored to be the beneficiary,” said Welsch.

The Tour offers the opportunity to visit the homes of local residents who have created beautiful waterscapes in their backyards. Included in the Tour are self-contained ponds with streams and water features ranging in size from small to expansive, as well as waterfalls without visible ponds. Beautiful landscaping, colorful flowers, arrays of dazzling waterfalls, and friendly fish of all colors, shapes, and sizes await those who visit just a few of the many homes featured on the Tour.

On Saturday evening, all the tour participants, along with all the homeowners who have opened their yards and water features in support of the event, are invited to gather at Turpin Landscaping on Martins Corner Road for the barbecue and silent auction.

From sun to shade, from flat to hilly terrains, ponds can be situated practically anywhere. The Turpins certainly love a challenge, as evidenced by some of the properties highlighted on the Tour.

“We do everything for the outdoor lifestyle,” said Sarah Turpin. “Everything from ponds to outdoor kitchens, patios, decks, and pizza ovens. But ponds are certainly a big part of our business.”

Editor’s Note: This post has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

Feed Our Neighbors: Volunteer on a Farm

Chester County is home to a bounty of fertile farmland—nearly 165,000 acres, according to the 2012 U.S. Census of Agriculture—and here at the Chester County Food Bank, we don’t take that incredible resource for granted. We’re proud to have two local farm partners: Pete’s Produce Farm in West Chester and Springton Manor Farm in Glenmoore. Both of these farms are generous enough to donate acreage to the CCFB and allow us to grow our own produce there.

On nearly five acres of farmland between Pete’s and Springton, we’re able to grow a large quantity of a limited variety of crops. Throughout the growing season—which runs from April until November each year—we’ll see kale, collard greens, cabbage, broccoli, lettuce, onions, garlic, tomatillos, sweet and hot peppers, tomatoes and herbs all coming from our fields! All of this nourishing, locally grown food adds up over the months—we harvested over 120,000 pounds of produce last year, all of which goes to local families and neighbors in need through our partner hunger relief agencies and Food Security Initiatives.

How do we implement such a significant program? Through the help of our amazing volunteers! Each season, we rely on over 1,000 volunteers to get outside to plant, maintain and harvest our nutrient-dense crops. Volunteering with our farm partners is a wonderful way to get to the roots of food insecurity, and there’s nothing quite so rewarding as spending a few hours out on the farm and seeing the impact of your hard work. If you’ve got a weekday afternoon or a few mornings to spare this growing season, we encourage you to come out to the fields with us and get your hands dirty in the best way!

A few more facts about our on-site farm volunteer opportunities:

  • We average 15 volunteers each day during the height of the season, splitting time between a.m. and p.m. shifts Monday – Friday.
  • Our need is greatest in late August and early September, when students return to school.
  • Volunteering with us is simple: if you’re interested, check out our online calendar, create a profile and sign up for any workdays that fit your schedule!
  • Volunteer opportunities are also available at our Community Gardens at Springton and in Phoenixville. Garden days are hosted in the morning to get the harvesting in before it’s too hot. These opportunities are also posted on our online calendar,
  • There’s no obligation or ongoing commitment to volunteer. Of course, we love when volunteers come out on a regular basis, but it’s fine if you can only sign up for one day.
  • If, for some reason, you’re unable to attend a workday that you signed up for, we only ask that you cancel with plenty of advance notice (at least 48 hours).
  • To schedule a group workday (five or more individuals), email volunteer@chestercountyfoodbank.org with three potential dates.

To get started with creating an account, looking at our volunteer schedule or signing up to work at one of the beautiful farms, head over to our volunteer site.

Want to learn more? Sign up for our newsletter and stay connected. You can also donate foodfunds and time to help us achieve our mission. Call (610) 873-6000 to speak to someone about getting involved or request a tour. Thanks to you, we’re growing a healthier community.

The Chester County Food Bank is the central hunger relief organization serving more than 120 food cupboards, meal sites and social service organizations throughout Chester County. We mobilize our community to ensure access to real, healthy food.

Emily Kovach

 

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in May 2017 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

Beyond Hunger: Gearing up for Our Best Season Yet with Fresh2You

As we recently announced, Chester County Food Bank’s new tagline, Beyond Hunger, sets the stage for our continued work of strengthening and nourishing our community. One of our signature programs that captures the essence of how we do this is our Fresh2You Mobile Market, a four-wheeled produce stand that brings fresh food to underserved areas.

Fresh2You is special to us because it really ties together everything that CCFB strives for in an elegant, powerful circle: organic produce that is grown by our farmer and through our raised bed gardens or through sourcing from local farmers is made available for accessible prices to the residents of Chester County; and volunteers, who staff the truck and run our TasteIt! demonstrations, introducing seasonal ingredients and cooking techniques to Fresh2You shoppers and then offering recipe bundles to recreate the dishes at home for just $5. It’s education and action all in one amazing package, and it exemplifies the ways in which we address the root causes of poverty and help people who need assistance beyond just going to a food pantry.

“Fresh2You aims to serve the entire community — we accept SNAP, have our Fruit & Vegetable RX (FVRx) program and are really trying to meet people where they are, both physically and financially,” said Roberta Cosentino, the Fresh2You Mobile Market Manager. “We’re trying to do what we can to get food in people’s hands in a dignified and equitable exchange.”

Our 2018 Fresh2You season was very successful, and 2019 is gearing up to be our best year yet! A second truck will hit the streets (its name is Blanche, and the original truck is Dorothy — “Golden Girls” fans, do you approve?), with an updated look, complete with the updated tagline “Shop, taste, cook with Chester County’s freshest.”

“We’re emphasizing that people can come to the market not only to get all the produce, but also experience by tasting it and by seeing people cooking TasteIt! recipe demos,” said Roberta. “TasteIt! is the most important thing that we do. We have customers who tell us, ‘This is the one day that I don’t have to think about what to make for dinner,’ and that’s people from all backgrounds.”

The second truck will allow for more mobile market opportunities. Because Blanche is smaller and setup is easier, Roberta believes her team will be able to visit some smaller locations. As it stands, the 2019 Fresh2You schedule is looking great: Tuesday, we’ll be at the Phoenixville Senior Center from 10 a.m. to noon and at the Coventry Mall from 3 to 5 p.m.; Wednesday, at the Coatesville Veterans Affairs Medical Center from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and at the Parkesburg Service Center from 3 to 5 p.m.; Thursday at the Kennett Area YMCA from 10 a.m. to noon; Friday at the Oxford Public Library from 10 to noon; Saturday at the Coatesville Public Library from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.; and every last Friday of the month at Indian Run in Honey Brook.  

The season is longer this year, too: It kicked off on June 4 and runs all the way through November 23. One of the ways we’re able to do this is that we’re working closely with our farmers to grow all kinds of crops that help extend the seasons, and that respond to things Fresh2You shoppers have been excited about.

“Our farmers are tailoring what they’re growing to our market!” Roberta said. “For instance, we had a lot of success with kohlrabi. We went from not growing it at all to this year our farmer growing two or three different kinds. We learned that it’s something that people of all different backgrounds eat; we weren’t really aware of that.”

Our farmer is also growing more and a greater variety of fresh herbs, which are frequent additions to our TasteIt! recipe bundles. The recipes that we design are meant to be accessible and versatile, even for beginners — think coleslaw, ratatouille and pasta salad. We want people to know that you can make simple food delicious, even just using a hot plate (as we do during the demonstrations)! The only ingredients we assume people have at home are oil, salt and pepper. We offer our own dried herb blends and vinegar at the market, and hopefully this year will be selling olive oil, as well.

Part of our Beyond Hunger philosophy is that our Fresh2You Mobile Market is open to everyone. We are so excited to see you this season at whatever location is most convenient to your home or work! And, if you love to cook, consider volunteering with Fresh2You and TasteIt! We’re always looking for more helpers, and a comprehensive Fresh2You training is coming up in August.

Want to learn more? Check out our mission video, sign up for our newsletter and stay connected. You can also donate food, funds and time to help us achieve our mission. Call (610) 873-6000 to speak to someone about getting involved or requesting a tour. Thanks to you, we’re growing a healthier community.

The Chester County Food Bank is the central hunger relief organization serving more than 120 food cupboards, meal sites and social service organizations throughout Chester County. We mobilize our community to ensure access to real, healthy food.

Emily Kovach

Photos: Chester County Food Bank