More firms 'Growing Fresh, Giving Local'

Aerzen USA featured in Garden Project Program

Throughout the Commonwealth and the nation there is a strong and growing movement to support community farms and to eat locally grown food; "Buy Fresh, Buy Local". Here in Chester County, local businesses are taking that a step further. Employees at some of our region's top companies are "Growing Fresh and Giving Local".

Recently I had the opportunity to visit Vanguard's Malvern campus where more than 180 staff members are growing crops of cucumbers, squash, tomatoes, cabbage and lettuce in 21 raised-bed gardens for hungry families in our community. Last year employees grew more than 500 pounds of fresh vegetables for the Chester County Food Bank. This year, they are already well on their way to their goal of growing a ton of fresh produce for those in need.

I talked with a number of Vanguard employees who enjoy putting their gardening skills to work for the benefit of their neighbors in need. The program also marks an important shift in providing fresh and nutritious food to the hungry, while demonstrating the importance of healthy lifestyle choices. "What makes this program really special is the fresh food aspect of it’s nonprofit partners that we work with ...asked for healthy food," said David Cennak, Vanguard's chief culture and diversity officer. "It's also special because it's so hands-on and employees at Vanguard, one of the world's largest investment management companies and the largest employer in Chester County, are not the only ones putting theirgreen thumbs to work to in the battle against hunger.

QVC, SAP, Aerzen USA, Sustainable Solutions and Siemens Medical Solutions are some of the other local companies that have recently established gardening programs to support the food bank. More than 17 years ago, I helped found the Chester County Gleaning Program (today the Chester County Food Bank and Growing Program) to address and meet the needs of hungry residents in ourlocal community. At that time, I could not have foreseen the tireless efforts and boundless generosity that have grown the organization into a highly successful and award-winning community partnership. Similarly, I would have never imagined that today we'd have executives, accountants and staff members from the leading businesses in the county rolling up their sleeves and digging into the soil to plant, grow and pick crops for important shift in providing fresh and nutritious food to the those in need. Through their work and the hard work of so many others 290,000 of the 1.8 million total pounds of food distributed by the food bank last year alone was healthy, fresh produce grown at local farms and gardens.

Still, there is more work to be done as the food bank's expanded efforts have been matched by the growing demand for services from an increase of residents struggling to make ends meet. In fact, demand at food pantries in West Chester and Parkesburg have increased by more than 130 percent in the last 18 months. Chester County is blessed to be one of the most prosperous regions in the Commonwealth and the nation. We are blessed to be home to leaders in national and international business -companies that provide high-paying jobs and an excellent quality of life for so many families. And we are blessed to live up to our heritage as compassionate and strong-willed people of faith -people who won't let their neighbors go hungry when they have the skills and resources to solve the problem of hunger.

Several companies are already leading the way and setting the example. They have stepped forward to exemplify the new corporate culture of growing to give back. We are grateful for their efforts, and we encourage others to get on board in "Growing Fresh and Giving Local."

Person in charge:

Ralph Wilton

Marketing Manager

Phone: 610-380-6367

Fax: 610-380-0278


108 Independence Way

Coatesville, PA 19320


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