Veterans and children living in Chester Housing Authority properties gathered Thursday at the Ruth L. Bennett Community Farm to showcase their culinary expertise at a farm-to-table fundraising event.For 10 years, the farm has welcomed Chester City residents to its grounds to learn the art of farming and healthy eating.
Now, it is bringing together two different CHA program participant groups: Children from low-income families and veterans."We have watched kids in our summer programs advance from not knowing the difference between an eggplant and a squash, to preparing food for a hundred person event," said Steven Fischer, CHA executive director. "When we started the farm 10 years ago, we never expected to be hosting an event like this.
"The first part of the well attended fundraiser was held at the Bennett Community Farm, where a variety of organic foods grown there were displayed and available for sampling.Farm Manager Natania Schaumburg provided tours of 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. She was quite proud to show tour participants the farm's new greenhouse, water system and cooling area.
Following the farm tour, the group consisting of community members and supporters then moved to the William Penn Community Center to enjoy dinner and music provided by award winning film music director Carlos E. Jones and his band, Perfect Sound Unit. The veteran guest chefs were acknowledged at the limited-ticket dinner, which included beet goat cheese salad, caponata, corn bread, pork tenderloin, collard greens, imagesed chicken, potatoes, roasted vegetables, Swiss chard, apple crisp and peach trifle."When I asked our vets to contribute their culinary backgrounds to this event, they were overjoyed," said Mary Militello, director of CHA's Housing Choice Voucher Program. "These men and women put their lives on the line to defend our country, and they have run into some tough times. But by being able to work with the kids and showcase the talents of our community, it has empowered them.
"The farm-to-table fundraiser is a first for CHA, which recently expanded the farm's impact via a partnership with Fare & Square, Chester's only grocery store.In June, produce grown at the Bennett Community Farm made its long-awaited debut at Fare & Square located in Chester's West End. Fischer said five years into the community farm program, CHA representatives felt it would be a good idea to market the produce and perhaps be a vendor for a local grocery store."This farm has been a great success," Fischer said. "We are proud of what the community has accomplished."