Growing our own food at Penn Farm

10458843_10203264540965729_7957600534192743463_nBy Matt Talley, Produce Access Coordinator

For the second year in a row, the Food Bank of Delaware is partnering with Delaware Greenways to grow fresh, pesticide-free produce at Historic Penn Farm in New Castle!

Located on 112 acres of land off Frenchtown Road, Penn Farm is a fascinating remnant of Delaware’s early history. Named after its benefactor, William Penn, the parcel formed part of the area designated as the New Castle Common in 1701 to serve as a source of timber and pasturage for the local citizens. Over the course of the intervening centuries, tenant farmers have continuously leased the land from the Trustees of the Common, developing and improving the farm’s facilities, practicing animal husbandry, and cultivating a wide variety of crops.

In 2015, Historic Penn Farm continues to grow and evolve under the oversight of Delaware Greenways, with projects underway to renovate the infrastructure, improve soil quality and implement new community agriculture initiatives.  The organization envisions a sustainable, bio-diverse farm operating for the benefit of the community in order to inspire healthier lifestyles and better environmental stewardship.

10353025_10203264740170709_1075984040956546680_nDelaware Greenways first partnered with the Food Bank of Delaware in 2014 with the help of Farm Manager Becca Manning. The project began as a pilot to test the effectiveness of using commercial agricultural production methods to create a source of fresh produce for the Food Bank. This year, the program will expand to an area of approximately one third of an acre (14,400 square feet), planted with crops such as kale, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, Swiss chard, tomatoes and green beans. The fresh vegetables grown at Penn Farm will feed directly into the operations of the Food Bank, ultimately going to individuals and families at-risk for food insecurity through Children’s Nutrition Programs, the Senior Nutrition Program, the Community Supported Agriculture Program, the Mobile Pantry Program and a statewide network of 550 Hunger Relief Partners.

Volunteers are needed to help tend to the farm plot over the 2015 productive season!  No prior experience is necessary, but this opportunity requires volunteers willing to get their hands dirty working outside.  Shifts are contingent on variable weather and crop conditions, so volunteers should understand that the hours will be flexible and prone to be scheduled or cancelled on short notice.

Three volunteer shifts are available on Saturday, May 30 (9 a.m. – 12 noon) and Tuesday, June 2 (9 a.m. – 12 noon and 1 p.m. – 4 p.m.) To sign up, please click here!

For more information, please contact me at mtalley@fbd.org or (302) 292-1305 ext. 249!

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