by Gary Puleo, Times Herald
When you think of a trellis, you may conjure up pastoral visions of fragrant wisteria or climbing roses in full summer bloom.
Back in 2003 the founders of a growing nonprofit also had a vision inspired by the homespun symbolism of the popular garden framework when they christened their organization Trellis for Tomorrow.
“We work at the intersection of food insecurity, organic gardening and youth development, and when you think about both of those things they’re really about letting living things grow, and grow more successfully,” said Executive Director Jennifer Anderson. “So we’re trying to grow food in a better, more sustainable way and we’re also trying to help youth grow in a more self-empowered, inspired way. And those things are supported by a trellis that we create for them … the trellis concept for a garden but applied to life and growing food.”
Based in Phoenixville, the focus of the nonprofit’s mission surrounds its youth partnerships in the Pottstown and Pottsgrove areas, Anderson said.
“All told, we have about 20 gardens across Chester, Montgomery and Delaware counties, and two in Philadelphia,” she noted. “Last year we grew and donated about 32,000 pounds of organic produce to food pantries, food banks and individuals.”
This food is grown partially by teens ages 13 through 18 in communities in the area, and at the gardens of Trellis partners at corporations, such as Vanguard, at universities, faith groups and other entities.
“This unique model aims to change communities from within — providing opportunities for teens and business leaders alike to come together to solve food injustice,” added board member Lia LoBello Reynolds. “At the same time, teens learn skills in entrepreneurship and how to make an impact. The Food for All garden at the Flourtown Summer Day Camp works directly with over 100 youth each summer to give them healthy food options as well as produce for neighbors in need.”
Pantries receiving the Trellis bounty at no cost include Martha’s Choice Marketplace in Norristown and Manna on Main in Lansdale.
“They do a terrific job of growing the food and they even reach out about which things are most helpful to us and how would we like it packaged,” noted Patrick Walsh of Martha’s Choice Marketplace. “I couldn’t say anything better about them. For an organization trying to help out food pantries they’re really open to understanding how they can best provide that help.”
This year, in spite of the pandemic, Trellis has provided more than 25,000 pounds of produce to local food banks and communities.
Currently in the midst of its Season of Solidarity campaign, which, due to the pandemic, replaces the annual Farm to Table event, Trellis is about halfway to its $25,000 goal.
“In a typical year, we’d fundraise between $35,000-$45,000 for our programming, driven through in-person events,” Reynolds said. “Unfortunately we cannot hold those this year for obvious reasons. Therefore, our individual donations need to increase and that’s why we launched the three-month Season of Solidarity campaign.”
Donation levels run the gamut from $100 (receive a set of six Recipe for Life Cards decorated by teens and featuring garden-based recipes with inspirational quotes), to $2,500 for a Stimulate Your Senses Garden Tour that includes a private, in-person, garden tour in June 2021 for up to 10 people at a time and location of your choice. The tour includes drinks and light snacks made from garden items, expert garden and sustainable landscaping tips and advice from staff and youth, and even some opportunities to get your hands in the soil if you choose.
Please visit the original story at the Times Herald