October 07, 2022
The Green Resource Center in Norristown, an environmental education and food production space established in 2021 by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society to combat food insecurity in Montgomery County, will open to the public for the first time on Monday.
The center, which spans three acres at Norristown Farm Park, includes a teaching farm that uses organic growing practices and a greenhouse with heating and cooling systems partly powered by solar energy. There also is a shaded area for seedlings, a wash station, pollinator gardens, a pavilion for public programming and 45 community garden beds.
The Green Resource Center previously only was accessible to volunteers and community organizations. Once it opens to the public, PHS plans to partner with Norristown Farm Park's Environmental Education team to provide field trips to students and other groups that teach them about the importance of food production and hands-on gardening.
PHS also will host volunteer days on farm education, in which visitors can learn about gardening and assist with harvesting, weeding and pruning.
The Green Resource Center is part of a countywide effort to encourage residents to grow more food for themselves and their neighbors in need. So far, more than 6,000 pounds of organically grown produce have been harvested and shared with community organizations in Norristown and Pottstown, as well as several institutions in Montgomery County.
"In its first year of operation, the PHS Green Resource Center at Farm Park has made tremendous progress in distributing locally grown organic produce to people in our region who need it most," Dr. Val Arkoosh, chair of the Montgomery County Board of Directors, said in an emailed press release. "We are proud to support the garden's continued growth to further our efforts to reduce food insecurity in Montgomery County and improve access to fresh, healthy food."
The Green Resource Center was constructed in early 2021 using CARES Act funding. County officials wanted to help reverse some of the damage done to local food resources, including at local pantries and community gardens.
About 58,000 Montgomery County residents – 7% of the population – face food insecurity, according to a 2020 report from Feeding America. An estimated $37.4 million is needed to address the issue, which was exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The PHS Green Resource Center at Norristown Farm Park is just another way that PHS is gardening for the greater good. 🌱 Learn about this new green space in the Norristown community in this week's entry to the Gardener's Blog! ➡️ https://t.co/cWhEWRniIN pic.twitter.com/Rf1NvSGcCb— Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (@PHSgardening) March 13, 2021
In its first year, the Green Resource Center provided 1,145 pounds of produce to ICNA Relief, a charity that operates a food pantry, health clinic, refugee program and educational services in Norristown. The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia's Karabots Primary Care Center in Norristown received 850 pounds of produce for families in need.
Creative Health Services, a Pottstown-based behavioral health center with nine locations in Montgomery County, received 1,634 pounds of produce to support its "Food as Medicine" program.
Norristown Sprouts Community Garden received more than 3,000 seedlings to supports its 40 community garden beds and the YWCA Tri-County Area in Pottstown received 410 pounds of produce for Dignity Kitchen, its culinary arts workforce development program.
"The PHS Green Resource Center at Farm Park has grown to become an important component of Montgomery County's efforts to battle food insecurity," said Julianne Schrader Ortega, vice presidents and chief of healthy neighborhoods at PHS. "We are thrilled to continue being able to support residents with nutritious food while educating them about the joy and importance of food gardening."