Our partnerships with local farmers grew out of the Chester County Gleaning Program that was established in 1996 by then Commissioner (now State Senator) Andrew Dinniman. Along with Volunteer Chairperson Elmer Duckinfield, the Gleaning Program focused on gathering excess produce from local farms that may otherwise go to waste. After the Food Bank began in 2009, we adopted the Gleaning Program and spearheaded the coordination of volunteers to harvest at partner farms. In 2013, with the addition of an on-staff farmer, Bill Shick, we began growing our own seedlings and managing land at our growing farm partners, increasing production and diversifying our crops for donation to food cupboards and agencies. With the help of over a thousand volunteers each season, we grow and harvest over 200,000 pounds of produce from the below growing farm partners.
Pete’s Produce Farm at Westtown School
Pete Flynn is the original farmer who set aside land for the Gleaning Program. Today, the Food Bank grows on approximately four acres of farmland that Pete, who is also a Food Bank Board member, allocates to our Agricultural Program. Pete’s Produce Farm is a favorite site of large volunteer groups and conveniently located near West Chester. Locals may be familiar with Pete’s Produce Farm’s market located on Rt. 926. Our farmer Bill, with the help from Food Bank volunteers will grow a variety of vegetables at this farm including:
- sweet and hot peppers
- kale and collards
- sweet corn
Camphill Village Kimberton Hills is a dynamic 432 acre farming, gardening, and handcrafting intentional community that includes adults with developmental disabilities. The village includes Sankanac CSA, a beautiful 15 acre farm and Community Supported Agriculture. Located on French Creek just outside of Phoenixville in Kimberton, Food Bank volunteers work on the land that is allocated to our Agricultural Program. On the acreage that we farm at Sankanac, we grow a variety of vegetables including:
- sweet potatoes and regular potatoes
- collard greens
Just a few miles from Sankanac is Charlestown Farm, 40 rolling acres in Charlestown Township in Phoenixville. The farm offers a CSA and can be seen at the Phoenixville Farmers’ Market. Food Bank volunteers work on the land allocated to us using the non-certified organic growing methods that Charlestown practices. As part of our Agricultural Program, we grow a variety of vegetables at this location including:
- collard greens and kale
- sweet potatoes
This beautiful 300 acre county park in Glenmoore is home to the Food Bank’s Outdoor Classroom and has been in use since the 1700s. The ‘living’ classroom features a 36 foot greenhouse for seedling production, an 80 foot high tunnel (hoop house) that we can harvest vegetables from year-round, raised bed gardens and nearly an acre of field near the Great Barn that is utilized for growing vegetables. This aspect of our Agricultural Program that enables us to provide unique learning and volunteer opportunities are made possible through the generosity of the Chester County Commissioners. The community is welcome to visit the park that is open year-round and see first hand how the Food Bank is taking a fresh approach to fighting food insecurity and instilling the importance of agriculture. Our growing here includes:
- perennial herbs
- various vegetables grown in raised bed gardens & high tunnel
The Chester County Technical College High School (TCHS) is Pennsylvania’s first hybrid career and technical high school/community college. Located in West Grove in southern Chester County. Our partnership with TCHS gives us access to their state of the art greenhouse to grow a majority (nearly 100,000) of the seedlings for our growing farm partners and Raised Bed Gardens. We also employ the use of hydroponic tanks, growing in water instead of soil, that enables us to be a part of the TCHS culinary program curriculum and for donation to our partner food cupboards and agencies. The hydroponic tanks grow:
- Pac Choi (Bok Choy)
Affiliated Farm Partners
We are fortunate to be affiliated with additional farms throughout Chester County with whom we work but do not coordinate volunteers nor grow in their fields as part of our Agricultural Program. Our relationship with these farms affords us the ability to purchase direct or receive donations from them.
Volunteer opportunities for individuals and groups at our growing farm partners are available April – November.