Chester's only full-service grocery store is now featuring fresh produce grown locally at the Ruth L. Bennett Homes community farm.Chester Housing Authority officials were joined Tuesday morning by representatives of the Fare & Square grocery store for a ribbon-cutting ceremony launching a partnership that hopefully will yield revenue to assist the CHA in sustaining the farm."This very happy day has been a long time coming," said CHA Executive Director Steve Fischer.
"This is a great example of two non-profits in the city getting together, combining resources and coming up with a creative idea which betters business in the community and also is great for the residents. We hope to promote healthier lifestyles, which is important to both organizations."Fare & Square Vice President of Operations Mike Basher said the market is more than happy to be part of such a worthwhile project."This is a win-win for the community," Basher said. "Everybody wants to know where their produce is grown these days, so this is locally grown right in our own back yard by residents, volunteers, and CHA employees. We are very proud to partner with the community.
"Farm Manager Natania Schaumburg said the vegetables are picked fresh each day on the 2-acre working farm, which features greens, peppers, blueberries, tomatoes, egg plant, kale, squash, basil, sweet potatoes, and a variety of fruit and flowers.Recent farm upgrades include an automatic irrigation system, electricity and plans to plant at least 20 new fruit trees including pear, plum, peach and cherry trees.Fischer said the project has been in the works for at least 10 years, when a small community garden was planted at the Bennett Homes. Five years into the program, CHA representatives felt it would be a good idea to market the produce and perhaps be a vendor for a local grocery store
"Fare & Square came along and it seemed like a good match," said Fischer. "It took a few years to get to this point and today is the culmination of years of hard work."The Bennett Homes produce has its own section to the left of the entrance of the market, which is clearly marked with a colorful banner.In addition to the working farm, a special children's summer program, community cook-outs, arts and crafts, internships and a summer meal program is provided at the site.