An Emerald in the Rough

An Emerald in the Rough

Amid the busy streets and close quarters of Northwest Philadelphia, a Trellis for Tomorrow partner and Food for All garden site is having a big impact. Tucked away from view and nestled between an Amtrak line and big brick buildings that once hummed with industry, the Salvation Army Kroc Center garden is bursting with life and gleaming like a gem growing out of concrete.

Except for the occasional rumblings of a passing train, this city oasis is alive with the sounds of songbirds, the quiet clatter of stirrup hoes and other tools in use, and the bright voices of garden champions working in unison. At the center of all this activity is Andy Nolan, our Food for All champion for the month.

The Salvation Army Kroc Center is a beautiful facility that serves as a community center for the surrounding neighborhood of North Philadelphia, and home to a large 1/3 acre Food for All garden. As the caretaker and manager of the garden and the Horticulture Zone – a productive and educational garden space for the whole community – Andy lives out his long-time advocacy in the world of food justice. For 10 years he has managed and cultivated this beautiful garden, aiding others in the development of mind, body, and spirit.

When speaking with Andy, it quickly becomes clear that he is passionate about passing along the joys of gardening to others. If anyone walks by the garden while he is there, he will always stop to have a conversation. Every morning, he greets every person nearby joyfully, from the senior citizens who exercise at the Kroc, all the way down to the young children who attend the early childhood education program.

For anyone who wants to learn more, Andy will happily offer advice and says, “I’m able to share how you can replicate what’s going on here in their own backyard or in container gardens.” In that way, this large garden serves as a teaching garden for how to replicate on a smaller scale, empowering everyone to be able to grow their own food at home. He is constantly handing out his delicious and nutritious fresh veggies to anyone who happens to pass by.

This love of sharing horticultural knowledge has won Andy a team of very dedicated volunteers that help out in the garden. Louise Smith, the Education Director says “He has very loyal volunteers who love what he does and love the garden. The children in our early childhood education classes always call out to say hi—he is well appreciated.” One of the regular volunteers offered, “He’s the best. If we have an abundance of something growing, he always offers something to people walking by the garden.”

In addition to education through conversations with people walking by, Andy also teaches classes for all ages, starting with very young kids as a part of the Kroc Center’s early childhood education program. In the summer program, kids have a chance to interact with food in a way they may have never experienced before. Andy says, “kids love pulling things out of the ground. Turnips are great, carrots are great…seeing the expression of kid’s face when they pull something out of the ground. A big smile comes across their face.” It’s moments like these that show what an impact it can make to connect people back to the earth and where their food comes from.

Besides being a place of learning, the garden is also highly productive! In 2020, the Kroc Center garden produced over 9,000 pounds of produce that was passed out to the community. The produce is mostly given away through the Kroc Center’s social services clients and senior services as well as to their volunteers and educational class participants. This garden is located in an industrial section of North Philadelphia, where it can be hard to come by fresh produce. As Andy says, “in Philadelphia there’s just not a lot of places where you can get fresh produce that’s organic. So every bag [of produce] you pass out is a move in the right direction.”

We want to celebrate the wonderful work that Andy and the Kroc Center are doing in North Philadelphia. As Louise Smith said, “the Kroc Center tries to be a beacon in the community and the garden is certainly a part of that.” Thank you to the Kroc Center and to Andy for sharing the joys of gardening and growing food with the surrounding community. Trellis is honored to play a role in your work!

Fall Recipes

Fall Recipes


As the cooler weather hits, we wanted to share some easy fall recipes that can be made with the help of the whole family!

Spiced Pumpkin Seeds

This delicious snack comes together quickly and can be eaten alone or as an addition to salad or a topper for squash soup, which you can find a recipe for below! You can also make a sweet version to satisfy your pumpkin spice cravings. Can be made with either whole or hulled pumpkin seeds!

Savory version:

  • 2 cups pumpkin seeds
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 T olive oil

Sweet version:

  • 2 cups pumpkin seeds
  • 3 T sugar
  • 1 ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp vanilla (optional)
  • 2 T coconut oil


  1. Turn your oven on to 350 degrees F
  2. Add pumpkin seeds to a bowl along with the dry ingredients and oil. Toss until seeds are coated.
  3. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread the pumpkin seeds onto the try and roast in the oven for about 15-20 minutes, stirring halfway through.
  4. Let cool and enjoy!

Vegan Butternut Squash Soup


This velvety soup is truly the taste of fall. You can use a blender or immersion blender to achieve the creamy texture. Try adding the savory pumpkin seeds from the recipe above on top! Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit.


  • 1 large onion
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 2” piece ginger
  • Small handful of cilantro
  • 1 large butternut squash (3.5-4lbs)
  • 1 13.5 oz can coconut milk
  • 2 T olive oil
  • ¼ tsp red pepper flakes
  • 3 tsp salt
  • 2 limes


  1. Chop the onion and add to a large bowl
  2. Peel and chop the garlic cloves, add to bowl with onion
  3. Peel the ginger, thinly slice, and add to bowl with onion and garlic
  4. Trim a handful of cilantro leaves; set aside for serving. Coarsely chop the remaining leaves and stems (about ¼ cup) and transfer to bowl with onion. Set aside.
  5. Trim both ends off of the butternut squash, and cut down the middle from end to end. Scoop out the seeds (these can be saved for the recipe above!). Use a vegetable peeler to peel the squash, then cut into 1” pieces.
  6. Heat 2 T oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion mixture, ¼ tsp red pepper flakes, and 1 tsp salt and cook, stirring occasionally for about 5-7 minutes.
  7. Add squash and give everything a stir. Add 3 cups of water, the can of coconut milk, and 2 tsp salt, and stir to combine. Raise heat to high and bring to a boil.
  8. Once soup is boiling, reduce to medium-low heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are very tender, about 12-14 minutes.
  9. Working in batches, ladle equal parts broth and vegetables into a blender, no more than half full. Make sure that you have a vent open in the lid to prevent a soup explosion! Cover vent with kitchen towel. Starting at the slowest speed work your way up, until soup is smooth. If you have an immersion blender, you can blend the soup in the pot.
  10. Reheat the blended soup in the Dutch oven or pot, and add the juice of 1 lime. The second lime can but cut into wedges for serving.
  11. Ladle soup into bowl, top with cilantro. The soup can also be topped with the spiced squash seeds or a dollop or vegan or regular yogurt!



Nothing is better than homemade applesauce, and it couldn’t be easier to make! A delicious way to make the most out of local apples—great served either warm or cold. Recipe adapted from Food Network.


  • 4 pounds assorted apples, peeled, cored, and chopped
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • Salt
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon


  1. Combine applies, sugar, 1 cup water, and ½ tsp salt in a large pot. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to low, cover with a tight fitting lid and cook until apples are very soft, 18-20 minutes
  2. Stir in the lemon juice and cinnamon. Let cool for 5 minutes or so. If you prefer chunky applesauce, you can stop here or do minimal blending with an immersion blender. If you prefer a smooth applesauce, work in batches to transfer sauce to a blender, no more than half full. Make sure that you keep a vent open in the lid, and cover with a kitchen towel. Can be eaten warm, or transfer to a bowl to cool in the refrigerator for about an hour. The sauce can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
November Tips & Tricks

November Tips & Tricks

By Hayden Remick

First Frost Forecasting

Make sure to keep your eyes on the forecasted frost for your specific location. This can range widely across the region, and even in smaller microclimates that may keep some locations warmer than others. If you see a forecast that shows temperatures down in the low 30’s, that’s a great sign that you need to harvest your last big batch of summer crops. Even a light frost can damage peppers, tomatoes, eggplants, zucchini, and other warmth loving plants. As the weather starts to average in the 50’s during the day, you can consider removing these plants from your garden entirely as productivity slows down dramatically.

Luckily, fall crops often thrive with a light frost. Plants can sense colder weather incoming, and they move sugar from their roots up into their leaves and main tap roots, like carrots, radishes or beets. As the sugar increases in specific parts of the plant, those sugars act as an insulating force and actually prevent damage from freezing temperatures. Not only does this keep your plants happy, but it makes them taste sweeter too!

If you’ve never tried eating a fall crop after a frost, you will have a chance soon!


Year Round Pollinator Habitat 

Many people are taught to ‘clean up’ their gardens before winter. While this can be good practice for keeping your veggie gardens free of pests and diseases, the same rules do not apply to pollinator gardens and many types of flowers. In fall, some types of pollinating insects burrow into the stems of plants like echinacea, black eyed susans, goldenrod and joe pye weed and many more. Additionally, the seeds of these species are valued food for bird species that will consume them and spread them.

It’s important to leave these plants standing in your garden to make sure the pollinators are protected through the winter months. You can then clip these back to a height of 6-8 inches in spring, around mid-April.


Covering your Soil for the Winter

Make sure you have some organic material on top of your garden beds to protect it over the course of the winter. Winter weather can bring lots of rain and snow, high winds and harsh temperatures. These can all contribute to erosion and degradation of your soil. Using leaves can be a great, cost-effective way to cover that soil, but make sure you hose them down after applying or they can blow away with blustery fall breezes. Compost and straw will also work wonders to keep your soil protected. In a pinch, you can also use landscape fabric, an old blanket or cloth will also work to cover the soil. Be careful using woodchips as they can take a long time to break down and can change the soil chemistry in the process.


It’s a Community

It’s a Community

By Layani B

“What are your plans for the summer”? While other kids my age decided to spend their summers on their phones or watching TV, I decided to go out into the gardens and get my hands dirty! During my time at the Youth Seed Enterprise Program (YSE), I learned about issues including environmental racism, personal wellness, and more.

On the first day in the Rolling Hills garden, we started pulling weeds and clearing up the beds. At our garden, there were tons of weeds that loved to grow, so, throughout the whole summer that was one thing we had to constantly take care of. Although some people may not like pulling weeds, I enjoyed it. It was therapeutic for me. Along with pulling weeds, I enjoyed harvesting carrots, cabbages, and potatoes among all of the vegetables we grew and distributed.

Wednesdays were our harvest days, where we would harvest all the vegetables that were ready to be picked and distribute them to people who had signed up to receive fresh produce weekly. The first week of distribution was nerve-racking because I didn’t know if people would answer the door, and worried that I would mess up my pitch. Luckily as the weeks went by, I overcame my nerves and even got better at my pitch!

I also liked our daily afternoon Zoom meeting meetings because people from all four gardens would join and have conversations about things like how important it is to take care of yourself. One specific piece of advice I was given was to look for purposes. I valued these conversations, and I will use the advice for the rest of my life.

During my summer with Trellis, I learned more than I thought I would. When I first joined, I thought the program would be a short gardening program where I could make some money. However, as I kept participating and meeting new people, I noticed that Trellis isn’t just a “quick summer job”. It’s a community. If I had to rate my overall experience, I would give it a 10/10. I 100% recommended anyone to be a part of the Youth Seed Enterprise program.

My Journey with Trellis

My Journey with Trellis

By Tessa Henry

I was first introduced to Trellis for Tomorrow as a high school student in 2003.  At that time I was shy and knew little of how food can impact communities and our lives.  Fast forward to 2021 and I serve as a diplomat representing the U.S. government for the Department of State.  What does food have to do with diplomacy?  For me, everything.  My experience with Trellis ignited my interest and commitment to public service.

I was one of the first participants in Trellis’s youth programs.  Trellis taught me about food justice, sustainability, and compassion for one’s community.  I learned about the importance of a healthy lifestyle and saw firsthand the positive impact  a local food garden can have  in communities of need.  I enjoyed working alongside my neighbors and peers in supporting access to local fruits and vegetables.

Trellis provided the professional development that I needed at such a critical stage in my life.  Their youth programs nourished my leadership potential, empowered my interest in community service, and challenged my self-awareness.  I served on the Youth Advisory Board to share my perspective on how to strengthen their youth outreach. This experience gave me confidence and exposure to how the public sector can change lives.

I believe in Trellis for Tomorrow’s mission to foster compassion in youth and inspire them to build sustainable communities.  Still excited by Trellis’s impact, I became a Board member in 2014 so I could  continue to support their growth.  Trellis nurtured my commitment to public service and is a testament to where I find myself today.  My involvement also taught me the importance of empathy and leadership; skills I use every day in my role as a public servant.

I am one of many examples of the profound impact this organization has on its youth participants.  I am deeply grateful for the organization’s care and commitment that guided my journey from a once timid student into a confident, successful, and empowered leader.