By Ty Holmberg, Co-Director, The Farm at Bartram’s Garden
Every day I come to work at what I consider a magical place. It is a rural haven in an urban setting, a juxtaposition of the beautiful and the gritty in the heart of Philadelphia.
The Farm at Bartram’s Garden — now in our sixth growing season — is a four-acre farm that seeks to increase access to fresh, organic food for people in Southwest and West Philadelphia.
I’m incredibly proud of the work we do here. But we can’t do it alone. Our organization — and others like it — is made stronger by partners who share our values and support our mission. That’s the deep sense of connection we gain from our relationships with Comcast NBCUniversal and the residents we serve.
And few things manifest this relationship better than Comcast Cares Day.
On April 22 we’ll again welcome some 200 Comcast NBCUniversal employees, family members, and friends to help prepare The Farm for growing season. In just six hours, these volunteers transform our garden beds and help revitalize our sense of purpose. Each year I’m amazed at how much we accomplish on Comcast Cares Day. Weeds vanish. Fresh soil lies ready for our gardeners to seed and tend. Volunteers rebuild damaged planter boxes, clean and compost our orchard, and plant and mulch our berry rows.
It’s the largest single day of assistance we receive all year. More than that, Comcast Cares Day is a testament to the power of community and business coming together.
Comcast NBCUniversal is certainly a major player in the Philadelphia area. When the company and its people invest their power, reach, resources, and time to help an organization like The Farm at Bartram’s Garden in caring for the natural world, awe-inspiring change happens. This partnership enables us to amplify our message and fulfill our mission far more broadly than we could on our own.
Since 2013, Comcast NBCUniversal’s financial and volunteer support has helped open up more avenues for The Farm to grow as a community food resource and education center. We help people develop self-reliance and deepen their relationship with the land, their food and each other. Young students learn the entirety of the food system, from planting to sales. Residents learn how to grow and cook their own food. Neighbors learn how to organize, communicate, and work with others.
What we really grow here is community.
With the help of 22 paid, local high school interns, we produce over 12,000 pounds of food a year, and work with 45 local families in our community garden. The Farm distributes more than 80,000 vegetable transplants to more than 130 farms and gardens around Philadelphia. We welcome more than 1,500 volunteers annually.
Comcast Cares Day is vital to our ongoing success, but the company’s commitment doesn’t end there. Its employees are our neighbors. They live and play here. The Farm is in their backyard. Naturally they want to connect here as well.
I meet new people from Comcast NBCUniversal during nearly every one of our bi-weekly volunteer days throughout the summer and fall. I watch as their high school-age children work in our internship program. And I see how Comcast NBCUniversal employees help connect, educate, feed and support their neighbors.
So I look forward to greeting hundreds of Comcast Cares Day volunteers on April 22 — which, fittingly, is also Earth Day worldwide — to swing a hammer, push a wheelbarrow, wield a shovel, and generally get our hands dirty as we build community and better our environment.
That’s a pretty good day’s work indeed.
Pictured above: Ty Holmberg, Co-Director, The Farm at Bartram’s Garden