From Gleaning to Growing
Growing Our Roots
How We Started
Our partnerships with local farmers grew out of the Chester County Gleaning Program that was established in 1996 by then Commissioner (and eventual 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 farm partners, increasing production and diversifying our crops for distribution to food cupboards and agencies. With the help of over a thousand volunteers each season, we grow and harvest over 160,000 pounds of produce!
“You guys grow the best stuff! I’m always in awe and so impressed with what you all do and how you do it!” – Dara, Farm Volunteer
Pete’s Produce Farm at Westtown School
Today, the Food Bank grows on approximately two acres of farmland that Pete Flynn, the original farmer who set aside land for the Gleaning Program and a former Food Bank Board member, allocates to our farming program. Pete’s Produce Farm is a favorite site of large volunteer groups and conveniently located near West Chester. Our farmer with the help of thousands of Food Bank volunteers, grow and harvest a variety of vegetables for our community through our Fresh2You Mobile Market, commercial kitchen, and our network of 160+ agencies.
Springton Manor Farm
Springton Manor Farm is a beautiful 300 acre county park in Glenmoore, which has been a working farm since the 1700s. The Food Bank’s portion of the park 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 enables us to provide unique learning and volunteer opportunities, 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.
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 are available for individuals and groups at our farms from April – November.