Did you know that the Chester County Food Bank is well-versed in the education and execution of raised-bed gardens? Imagine being able to participate in a thriving program that provides an excuse for some built-in therapy, courtesy of Mother Nature while growing fresh produce for food insecure neighbors within your community.
Raina Ainslie, raised bed garden program manager, says, “Gardens are powerful places for growing community, sharing knowledge and, of course, sharing food. The partner gardens play a crucial role in getting fresh produce out into their communities.” Our garden partners collectively grow 40,000 pounds of vegetables annually for our network of food cupboards and meal sites.
What exactly is a raised-bed garden?
Wood-framed raised-garden beds, also called garden boxes, are great for growing small plots of vegetables and flowers. They keep pathway weeds from the garden soil, prevent soil compaction, provide good drainage and serve as a barrier to pests such as slugs and snails.
Where are the Food Bank’s raised-bed gardens?
With roots stemming from the Gleaning Program in 1997, the raised bed garden program was adopted by the Food Bank in 2009 with six partner garden sites, and has since grown to over 100 gardens hosted at schools, food cupboards and social service agencies. Our raised bed garden manager, Raina Ainslie, and garden educator Terry Scholl work with host sites for their initial garden set up and educational support.
I want to help. Where can I find out more about starting my own garden?
We encourage home gardeners to grow and donate produce to your local food cupboard. Please review our best practices for harvesting and donating produce. Please only donate quality produce you would eating yourself. Avoid donating bruised. or overly mature veggies – no giant zucchini please! Please see our modified produce donation procedure due to COVID-19 restrictions.
If you don’t have a home garden, we invite you to join us for volunteer opportunities at some of our host sites.
When is a good time to begin my garden?
Want to learn more? 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 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.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in March 2017 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.