7 groups share $480,000

Fair Food, Greensgrow Farms, MANNA are among the beneficiaries.

Posted: February 24, 2011

The practice of eating well locally can pay off for the economy as well as for individuals.

That's why the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission sought ways to secure the food system within a 100-mile radius of Philadelphia.

The commission put together a team of stakeholders two years ago, bringing together farmers, antihunger advocates, preservationists, and small business owners to articulate the project's core values.

And this month, the commission announced grants totaling $480,000 (funded from the William Penn Foundation) to seven local organizations.

The Common Market, a 3-year-old group that distributes locally grown food from family farms to wholesale customers such as Thomas Jefferson and Cooper University hospitals, got $45,000 to work with a food safety consultant so that the business can obtain necessary third-party food safety certification.

Fair Food, a multifaceted organization perhaps best known for maintaining a farm stand in the Reading Terminal Market, got $140,000 to expand its farm-to-school program in the Philadelphia public schools.

Greensgrow Farms, an urban farming outpost in Kensington, got $35,000 to create interactive cooking classes and videos aimed at increasing the number of low-income households participating in its year-round community supported agriculture (CSA) program.

The Metropolitan Area Neighborhood Nutrition Alliance (MANNA), which operates a home-delivery meal service for people suffering from life-threatening illness, got $25,000 for a series of cooking skills and nutrition education classes for its clients.

Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA), the largest statewide member-based sustainable farming organization in the country, got $100,000 to create Farming Futures, a business venture that will connect would-be farmers with available land. Temple University's Fox School of Business will assist with the project.

SHARE, a volunteer-based effort that distributes food through host organizations, received $100,000 to work with the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society's City Harvest Growers Alliance on a project to promote backyard gardening. www.sharefood program.org

Weavers Way Community Programs, an offshoot of the popular Mount Airy food coop, got $35,000 to help expand the Hope Garden, a community garden at Stenton Family Manor, a shelter for homeless families in Germantown.

All those projects reflect the core values established by the planning commission's stakeholder committee, said Barry Seymour, DVRPC executive director.

Among those core concerns are: maintaining affordable farmland through new business models; developing technical assistance for farmers; creating or expanding loan programs to reduce barriers for new food entrepreneurs, especially beginning and minority farmers; and promote the use of new technology to educate consumers.


Additional information is at www.dvrpc.org/food

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