Collaborative Effort to Grow Fresh Produce for the County’s Hungry Kicks Off in the Rain

Lancaster, PA – On a recent rainy Saturday, a group of volunteers planted seeds on a half-acre plot of rich Lancaster farmland that they hope will bear fruit to feed the county’s hungry later this year.

A group of about 50 gathered early on May 21 for the inaugural planting day for Hunger-Free Lancaster County’s “Wittel Farm Growing Project,” a charitable farm endeavor sponsored by the Lutheran Camping Corporation of Central Pennsylvania at the beautiful Wittel Farm Retreat in the rolling hills near Elizabethtown.  They were joined by volunteers from the Lancaster County Council of Churches, the United Way of Lancaster County and the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank.

“We planted 1,000 plants in a little over an hour,” said project leader Pastor Matt Lenahan, who is the pastor at the Zion Lutheran Church in Akron, PA and also represents Lutheran Advocacy Ministry PA.

“Not every row was straight,” he said. “Especially the ones planted by members of the Hempfield High School girls lacrosse team! But what these wonderful young ladies lacked in planting skill, they made up for in enthusiasm. We have no doubt that all the rows planted on Saturday will bear a bounty of beautiful and healthy veggies for Lancastrians in need.”

“Pastor Matt,” as Lenahan is known, said that this year, the Wittel Farm Growing Project hopes to plant a total of two acres of various types of tomatoes, peppers, squash, pumpkins, cucumbers, and sweet corn.

“Within a few years, we expect this project to grow to about 40 acres and yield enough fresh produce to help feed thousands of Lancaster Countians in need,”  said Joe Arthur, Executive Director of the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank.

“Fresh produce is often hard for people in need to afford, and we believe endeavors like this can make a big — and healthy — impact,” he said.

Reflecting on the success of the inaugural planting day, retired State Senator Mike Brubaker, chair of Hunger-Free Lancaster County who is now the chief executive officer of local finance firm, Blackford Ventures, LLC, said: “This Project is a shining example of how people of all ages and from all walks of life can join together to help ensure that nobody goes hungry.”

Senator Brubaker thanked the Lutheran Camping Corporation for allowing the group to use its Wittel Farm land, Seedway for donating the seeds and Saturday’s volunteers for their help.

Anyone interested in participating in future volunteer activities for the Wittel Farm Growing Project and other projects of Hunger-Free Lancaster County are encouraged to visit www.hungerfreelancaster.org, www.centralpafoodbank.org, or www.lutherancamping.org. Financial and in kind donations are also needed to sustain this important work. Interested donors should contact Jennifer Powell at jpowell@centralpafoodbank.org.