The Opportunity Council thanks the more than 140 volunteers that donned their gardening gloves, sun visors and boots to work at Hope of the Harvest, Bucks County’s newest philanthropic endeavor for fresh produce.
Founded in 2012, Hope of the Harvest is a community garden on the Delaware Valley College campus sponsored by Del Val, Opportunity Council and Philabundance. The garden’s inaugural year yielded 15,000 pounds of fresh vegetables that went directly to Buck’s County’s pantries in the Food and Nutrition Network (FaNN), which served Bucks County’s families in need.
For the 2013 growing season, the garden had to grow as well. Its size was increased by an acre, allowing for more potatoes, tomatoes, corn, squash, cucumbers, lettuce, apples and more to be planted. Fortunately, this year’s volunteers were up to the challenge. Together, they put in more than 600 hours (rain or shine!) to cultivate more than 25,000 pounds of fresh produce!
Interested community members, church groups, Doylestown Food Co-op members, students and retirees came out week after week from May through October to pitch in, including Jacqui M., a Bucks County resident.
“I was amazed when I heard about the number of people just in Bucks County who have food issues, especially towards the end of each month. I cannot imagine how hard it is for parents to worry about how they will feed their children, or for a hungry child to concentrate on their schoolwork,” said Jacqui. “It was my honor to help out in the Hope of the Harvest garden this summer. I hope all the efforts of the volunteers helped a few children to have a better day.”
Several local businesses allowed their employees opportunities to work in the garden, which offered a chance for charitable stuff and teambuilding. Sam Hardman, President and CEO of Reed Technology, came out to volunteer alongside members of his executive staff; Employees of Charles River Lab in Horsham, ASI in Trevose, and Johnson & Johnson also brought groups on several days this summer.
FaNN, the county’s lead emergency food provider, has distributed over 1.2 million meals to Bucks County families in the past two years, and the Charitable Garden has provided a consistent and sustainable method to ensure future meal donations include locally grown produce.
“The Garden is essential to making sure families in need have access to food that is fresh and healthy,” said Eileen Albillar, Volunteer and Community Connections Manager with the Opportunity Council. “The Opportunity Council and its partners are doing everything they can to support FaNN’s efforts to bring nutritious food to local families, and the volunteers that come out every week to help in the garden are absolutely essential to the mission.”
Volunteers will be needed May through October 2014 for weeding, staking, harvesting and packing produce. Groups are welcome! For more information, or to sign up your group, please contact Eileen Albillar – firstname.lastname@example.org or 215-345-8175 extension 209, or visit www.bcoc.org.