Spotlight on Dave Brennfleck: Over a Decade of Volunteering!

by | Feb 28, 2024

Today we are interviewing David Brennfleck, a longtime volunteer with Trellis for Tomorrow and our primary point of contact at SAP, one of our first Food for All garden partners. Read on to learn more about Dave’s journey as he has partnered with Trellis for the last ten years.

Jennifer: How did you first learn about Trellis?

Dave: As an advocate for sustainability at SAP, I approached our facilities department to see if we could allocate some land for an employee garden. I think this was around the 2011 timeframe. We were never able to get enough employees on board to get it off the ground. When Trellis approached SAP in 2013 with the concept of organic farming on corporate property, and the willingness to educate us, it was exactly what we needed.  We quickly established our garden and had 97 employees signed up to volunteer.  Our facilities team remembered me approaching them with the garden years prior, so they put me in charge of coordinating the volunteers and being the point person to work with Trellis. More than 10 years have now passed and I am amazed how Trellis has grown!

Jennifer: So, what led you to start volunteering with us?

Dave: I worked with inner city youth in the past and understood how quickly a family can find themselves in a food insecurity situation. Some of the youth had never tasted some of the most common fruits and vegetables. It was an eye opener for me. The idea of growing healthy food and getting it into the hands of those that truly needed it seemed like a tremendous and worthwhile opportunity to help others.

Jennifer: Can you tell us a little about your journey – how much time you spend with Trellis, what do you do, and why do you keep doing it?

Dave: Although we established our garden at SAP in 2013, it has not reopened since the pandemic since so many employees remain at home offices. We thankfully continued with our annual donation, to maintain an off-site sister garden, with the help of outside volunteers. It is not our preferred model, but the harvest now exceeds what we were able to produce ourselves! Currently, I have been enjoying the opportunities to volunteer at the Lundale site and have recently joined the External Affairs committee at Trellis.  Occasionally, there are small projects in the Phoenixville or Pottstown offices where I lend a hand. It is a wonderful excuse to get to know the Trellis team. The staff are part of the reason I enjoy volunteering with Trellis.

Jennifer: What “rewards” do you feel you get from the time you spend?

Dave: Although I have spent decades in gardens, I had no idea how many things I had been doing wrong! The guidance from the Trellis agricultural experts have helped my own garden improve and I enjoyed being able to share what I have learned with others. The experience with Trellis has expanded my understanding of the impacts of commercial/industrial farming and helps me appreciate the efforts to get from seed to market. In the early years with Trellis, I was taught about the “weeds” we were removing to plant our crops and how many of them were not only edible, but tasted so good!  I was often grazing while weeding the beds. Gritty, but still tasty…. When introducing new volunteers, I would walk them through the edible weed options, in case they were willing to also give them a try.

Jennifer: What suggestions do you have for others who might want to get involved?

Dave: The Trellis team is flexible and very willing to upskill. Even if you have no interest in getting your hands dirty, there are plenty of other opportunities to get involved.  I would recommend checking on Eventbrite (https://www.eventbrite.com/o/trellis-for-tomorrow-55634332193) for opportunities to volunteer or email the team to see how you can help.  If you have a garden at home, you will be thrilled to have Trellis’ support to continue to learn and grow (pun intended).

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