Officials from the Chester Housing Authority and Fare & Square grocery store launched a partnership today by cutting the ribbon on a produce section featuring products freshly grown at CHA's Ruth L. Bennett Homes community farm."We're excited to partner with the Chester Housing Authority," said Fare & Square Vice President for Retail Operations Mike Basher.
"When they first approached us about the concept of us purchasing their produce we thought it was a win-win, not only for us and the housing authority but for sustainability."The partnership with Fare & Square will yield revenue that will help CHA sustain its 2-acre farm and to continue to offer it as an important educational resource to the community shoppers."This very happy day has been a long time in coming, maybe even 10 years. I believe this may be the first deal of its kind in the nation," said CHA executive director Steven A. Fischer.
"This is a great example of two non-profits in a city getting together, combining resources, coming up with a creative idea which betters business in the community and is also good for the residents - and along the way we're going to promote a healthier lifestyle, which is important to both organizations."CHA's Bennett Farm started as a small community garden, providing food and farming education to CHA participants.
The farm now produces enough food to be able to sell a portion, paying for the farm's ongoing operation and providing affordable produce to Chester residents. In the early years the farm produced food simply for the immediate community.The farm is managed by a full-time CHA employee, Natania Schaumburg, but residents help plant and raise the crops. Children join adults in the activity, learning about nutrition and how food is produced. The farm's expansion has also led to the creation of some part-time paid positions."Everyone wants to know where their food is grown these days," Basher said.
"This is locally grown right in our own back yard. CHA picked these vegetables this morning and they are on the shelf an hour later. You can't get any fresher than that and it's really exciting. Thank you to CHA for thinking of us and making us part of your dream."