00:00 Kurt Baker: Good morning and welcome back to another edition of Master Your Finances, presented by Certified Wealth Management and Investment. I am Kurt Baker, a Certified Financial Planner professional located in Princeton, New Jersey. I can be reached through our website, which is www.cwmi.us, or you can call me directly at 609-716-4700. This week, very pleased to have with us Amanda Morales Pratt, who is the manager of donor relations for the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society. She designs, documents, and implements a systematic and integrated donor relations program that encompasses donor recognition events, personal visits, and other touchpoints. And you do many other things in that position, I might add, but one of the things that I guess we’ll talk about a little today is a little bit about the society itself, but also that you are a co-creator of the new PHS program Harvest 2020, which is addressing food insecurity in the Philadelphia region, which has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. And you project manage the core team along with the project director working with all the aspects of the project, including program design, community engagement, education development, marketing, fundraising, and partnership development.
01:14 Kurt Baker: So I guess what I’m taking from this is obviously this is new for all of us, and you guys have seen a need there and figured out a way that you as an organization can help out, right? That’s what I’m seeing here. So how did this thought process start initially? ‘Cause that’s probably not your main mission as a horticultural society. So how did that develop, and what was the thought process to put all of this together to help everybody?
01:41 Amanda Morales Pratt: Well, historically PHS has been focused on using gardening and horticulture to increase the four building blocks of health and well-being, which include access to fresh food, healthy living environments, deepening social connections, and creating economic opportunities for people. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we looked around and we saw that there was a clear need to address the growing food insecurity and hunger that we were seeing throughout the ten-county Greater Philadelphia region, and across the country, of course. Because in talking to existing partners who are hunger relief organizations and food pantries, they let us know that they were seeing a remarkable 30-50% increase in demand due to COVID-19. So we looked at what our expertise is, which is mobilizing gardeners, encouraging them to use gardening for the greater good, and we saw this as a unique opportunity to use our skills, combined with our rich and wonderful Philadelphia community and Greater Philadelphia region community of gardeners to address this issue.
02:53 Kurt Baker: That brings up an interesting thought. I’m envisioning in my mind, when you say “gardener,” to me I’m thinking, the one or two rows in my backyard or this large complex down the street. So what does your gardener look like? Is it some of those, all of those? What is your typical gardener… You say the gardener, so who’s involved in this? What types of gardeners are generally involved? They large organizations or… I mean what makes up your gardener… ‘Cause you have a lot of different people involved, correct? So who’s part of the organization as far as that part goes?
03:26 Amanda Morales Pratt: Well, for PHS, we adapted a statement related to diversity, equity, and inclusion in 2019, and as part of that, we stated that we firmly believe that gardening belongs to everyone. And so for Harvest 2020, we saw this as a unique opportunity to gather all of the different kind of gardeners we work with, from the gardening clubs that do work within their local neighborhoods to community gardens that we partner with through our existing work to the home gardener to the person who tends the Philadelphia Flower Show. And we saw all of them as a way that we could mobilize over 100,000 gardeners to grow an extra row of food to donate to their local pantries. And we thought everybody can be a gardener or is a gardener already, so this is a way that people can help.
04:20 Kurt Baker: Oh, I like that, I never heard of that. Plant an extra row is the idea, and then the idea is that then they donate to you. I know that my wife’s… I’m not the gardener, my wife is, fortunately she does that. And I know that it seems like when things come in season you’re like, all of a sudden you have more of whatever it is [chuckle] than you can possibly consume on your own. And we don’t generally can it. I know some people do that, but… So you make a lot of friends during that period of time, but part of that could be donated, I guess is what you’re saying. ‘Cause when everything comes in, it’s nice ’cause you have a little bit of a surplus during the actual seasons, right?
04:51 Amanda Morales Pratt: Yeah, and what we’re encouraging folks to do is donate food to the local food pantry in their area or they can share food with their friends and neighbors, or if they personally cannot garden for one reason or another, they can give to PHS. And we’re working with community partner gardeners for them to be able to provide gardening supplies and other materials to gardeners who are underserved so that they can build self-reliance within their existing communities. So we’re working with community partners that are on the ground working in those neighborhoods.
05:31 Kurt Baker: Well, I think that’s great, and you just said, creating something where they can start to help themselves. So how does that… I’ve also seen… I’ve seen reports of where there’s food shortages, things like that, people go in and start actually growing some of their own food, so there’s a little bit of training that goes on in there. So it also helps them become a little bit more independent, especially if you’re a low or moderate-income person, it’d be nice to be able to grow your own vegetables. Relatively low cost, you get great food, healthy for you and your family. Is that part of what you guys are helping people to do? It wins on a lot of levels, economically as well as just your regular fitness. It’s good for you to eat fresh fruits and vegetables, right?
06:10 Amanda Morales Pratt: Yes, and so, part of that has been related to… A lot of these community partners were doing existing work related to this, so it’s a way for us to leverage our networks to scale up their existing efforts, because we think building networks of self-reliance in communities makes a lot of sense, because the reality is that hunger did not start during COVID-19. Before any of this happened, almost 12% of households in the Greater Philadelphia region were food insecure, and that number is expected to double. So we recognize that this is existing work that other people have been doing for a long time, and we just want to use the ways that we can be of assistance so that we can build… Both help underserved folks who are in need of gardening supplies and other things so they can grow food, as well as build new networks of connection between gardeners of various kinds and local food pantries, so that we can strengthen the existing food networks, ’cause I think that in every community in the nation, we have seen, even if people have a lot of resources, there has been limited access to food to a lot of people with supply lines and everything else that’s happened.
07:21 Kurt Baker: Yeah, I noticed that got very disrupted. It seems to be coming back to some kind of normalcy, but I remember when they were… I mean, in fact, locally, and you probably had something similar over in Pennsylvania, is all of a sudden, we had farmers literally donating food and things like that, because they’re like, “We can’t send it to the restaurant ’cause they can’t accept it, but we certainly don’t wanna throw it away. We know people are hungry, so please, please come get a basket full of fresh fruits and vegetables.” No questions asked kind of deal. It was like it’s a win-win. Obviously, they’d rather sell it to the restaurants, but they certainly don’t wanna get rid of it, especially when everything was very much disrupted and there was no way to easily change things over to just start sending it to the grocery store, ’cause there’s a different… I guess there’s a different way of doing it, different packaging, things like that. A restaurant, when they receive fruits and vegetables or milk or whatever the case may be, it’s a very different system and not something that you can easily transfer into the home. So what did you see during this whole process to help with the supply chain? ‘Cause in some cases, there was plenty available, we just weren’t getting it where it needed to be, to the people that needed it. Was that part of what you guys were helping out with?
08:28 Amanda Morales Pratt: I wouldn’t say that PHS was involved with the supply chain related to farmers and grocery stores and other things like that. There’s existing work that’s being done in that area. Our partner for Harvest 2020, Food Connect, has been very involved with redistributing food from restaurants that have excess food to food pantries and other work like that, that’s why we connected with them initially ’cause they’re also able to support home gardeners, if they have a certain amount of food to transport it for them, ’cause some folks are avid gardeners, but they may not have access to a vehicle to be able to transport it to a food pantry, so that felt important. We try to look at this program as a way… What are all the ways we can reduce barriers for people to grow fresh food, to share it with others, and to be able to donate it to food pantries?
09:19 Kurt Baker: Well, it sounds like almost anybody can help. How, if somebody’s interested in this, is there an easy way for them to reach out and connect so they can become part of this large group that’s really trying to help… Get people help that need it and get the supplies to the people that need it that are out there. Is there a place they can go to kinda get connected up with all this?
09:39 Amanda Morales Pratt: Yes. If you are interested in getting involved, you can visit phsonline.org/harvest2020. We have plenty of information there about how you can get involved, we’ve developed a vast education library, so that if you wanna learn how to garden, as well as other ways that you can support this, from where to donate food, to where to get gardening supplies, to giving to PHS so that we can support our community partners in their garden education and gardening supply access work.
10:13 Kurt Baker: Well, that’s just absolutely fantastic, and we’ll make sure we include the website in case you missed it in the show notes. If you look us up online, you’ll see it there as well. You’re listening to Master Your Finances and we’re gonna be right back.
10:24 Kurt Baker: Welcome back, you’re listening to Master Your Finances. I’m Kurt Baker, here with Amanda Pratt, who is with the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, and we’ve been talking a little bit about your Harvest 2020 initiative, where you’re trying to connect people together, and you have a goal in mind. So, what is your goal and how do you plan on reaching that goal, as far as people getting involved?
10:46 Amanda Morales Pratt: Our goal is to get 100,000 people to pledge to grow food, to share it with others, or to give to support folks in underserved communities, accessing gardening supplies and education resources through our community partners.
11:02 Kurt Baker: Okay, and that’s an amazing goal. And hopefully we can connect everybody together and the more people that get involved, the better. And I think another part of that you mentioned, you said about 12% of the population feels food insecure, and some of this is helping people that are able or interested to learn how to grow a little bit of their own food, right? But in some places, I guess I’d like to know a little about that, plus in some places it’s more challenging, like I live in the suburbs, so it’s relatively easy, you get on the backyard and you decide a little area of land that you’re gonna allocate to the food, you put the plants in there, then my wife does her magic and nature does their magic and pretty soon we have some food. But in the city, are there some unique challenges if you live on the 20th floor of some building somewhere? [chuckle] I would think.
11:49 Amanda Morales Pratt: Yeah, that’s true. It can be challenging in an urban environment, but I think that if you look at… PHS has been very lucky to be a supportive partner of people who are involved with container gardening and community gardening in the city since about the ’90s through our program, City Harvest, which we grow seedlings and other supplies for folks who are doing community gardening. So we provide technical assistance and other things like that so that community gardeners who are self-led can grow food and also donate it to food pantries and share it with their neighbors.
12:27 Kurt Baker: I’ve heard that term, but can you explain for us a little more in detail about what is community gardening and how it works. ‘Cause I see them around town, but how does somebody get involved and how do you work the garden, and how does it all work? I mean, it looks wonderful, but how does it actually work?
12:44 Amanda Morales Pratt: So, it’s like community garden but just speaking to some community gardens that I have known personally, usually what happens is folks develop access to land in some way and they decide that they wanna start a community garden. So they try to identify if there’s places where they can get resources or partners in their area, or if they have the existing money and other resources to do it without support. And then they usually get soil testing done, build these things called raised beds that are just a rectangle of wood that you fill with soil and mulch and things like… Or not mulch, excuse me, compost. You don’t wanna put mulch in there…
13:27 Kurt Baker: Yeah, no, you don’t wanna do that. Around it, maybe, but not in it. [chuckle]
13:30 Amanda Morales Pratt: And then… Yeah. Every community garden is different, and they tend to have their own governance structures and stuff. Some are more organized than others, but that’s the general idea. It’s a group of people coming together who wanna grow food together.
13:43 Kurt Baker: So they kinda get together and decide, “Okay, well I’m gonna put the tomatoes down next week and you’re gonna go water it once a week.” And so they come up with some kind of plan about how to run the garden, I’m assuming, right? And then once everything’s done, then I guess they have a plan on who gets to take what or maybe how much gets donated, I think. Is that kinda how it works? ‘Cause you were talking about how some of it might get donated, correct? When they put a garden together like that.
14:03 Amanda Morales Pratt: A lot of gardens, you pay for your spot in the garden and it helps to pay for the general maintenance and stuff for the larger space. So you might pay like $30-$50 to have a raised bed for the season, where you grow your food and it’s your food to do with what you’d like. Some community gardens function differently, but a lot of them tend to be like you pay for your bed or it could be free if you live in the area. It just really depends.
14:33 Kurt Baker: Okay, okay, so they’re basically giving you some space that you may not normally have in your own location. Even locally, if you happen to live in like a condo, the association’s not gonna be so keen on you putting a garden out in the middle of the common area, [chuckle] their common area space. They’re not gonna allow that, so you go, “Okay. Well, let me just go down the street and I can go to a community garden, and I can plant my own stuff, and then I can do that as well.” And then you also mentioned another type of gardening, container gardening. Is that something you might… I don’t know exactly what… Maybe you can help us understand that, especially me. I’m envisioning… I used to be in the shipping business, so I’m assuming you don’t mean a shipping container, I’m assuming you mean something a little bit smaller than that? [chuckle]
15:07 Amanda Morales Pratt: Yeah. So container gardening is just any gardening that’s… It’s literally in a container, so a really big pot or any sort of… Like gardening in smaller spaces. A lot of folks who are in apartment situations, but might have a back patio or something like that to play with, but they don’t have access to green space, they might grow… Do an herb planting or something in some large pots. Or you can do some tomato planting and things like that, or beans. There are some plants that you don’t need quite as much space to do, that’s… Sometimes people grow smaller amounts of food doing that.
15:45 Kurt Baker: Okay, it sounds like you could have a fairly robust garden if you learn how to do this, is that correct? Is that my understanding? Even if you have a very limited amount of space, is that how that all works? And I assume there’s some guidance on what you can do in a small container and what’s better planted maybe in your backyard. I know some stuff, like, I don’t know, carrots, can you do that in your backyard? I mean you kinda have to be outside, right, for that? Potatoes… And I’m no gardener, I’m just thinking about things that are actually in the ground, that’s gonna be a little harder, right, than maybe like basil. [chuckle]
16:18 Amanda Morales Pratt: You can grow carrot… You can grow some amounts of carrots and other things in containers. The main thing is that you need four to six hours, usually, minimum, of full sun for most vegetables. But I am not the expert. If you wanna learn more about how you can do gardening, we have an extensive food gardening education library that we’re building out, and that’s available at our website for Harvest 2020, which is phsonline.org/harvest2020.
16:49 Kurt Baker: Okay, great. Yeah, resources are fantastic, especially… Better off to learn from somebody else than to plant it and do it wrong. “Why didn’t that stuff grow?” [chuckle] Well, ’cause you put it in the wrong planter or something. So we’re helping to get a lot of the people to learn how to do that. So is that… So they get together, or is this… I know you have this stuff on the website, but you’re getting all these connections. I’m envisioning that you have these 100,000 different entities together, and they seem like they’re all different types of entities. Are there… Can I go see another… Can we work together? I’m just… Is there a social networking of some kind that also is happening here? I know people like to do things together. So I can see the community garden do it, but if I’m… All of these other people, they come, “I wanna learn how to be a little more self-sufficient in my food and maybe plant… ” Are there people that get together in small groups to help each other? Does that happen through this organization?
17:51 Amanda Morales Pratt: Normally, folks would be able to get together more, but because of the way things are with social distancing right now, that’s a little more challenging, but what I will say is, we have tried to create a virtual hub for folks to talk to each other, to exchange plant seedlings, to exchange advice and other things like that. And you can access that on the Harvest 2020 hub. We’ve created a private Facebook group for folks who are interested in talking about gardening and share tips and resources and things like that. Because we can’t be together physically right now, but we can be together in other ways.
18:30 Kurt Baker: That’s true. We’re doing a lot of this video conferencing these days, it’s not quite as good, but at least we can see each other and talk to each other. But yeah, there’s nothing like learning from somebody who’s been doing it for a very long period of time that says, “Oh, this is what I’ve learned, and this is how I do it and… ” I’m just amazed at how much information people hold that have been doing stuff like this for a long period of time. So it’s good that we can share all that information, I appreciate that very much. Now that we… Now what are you guys doing as far as… Now that we’ve got the Harvest 2020 initiative in place, what are the things you’re trying to do moving forward from here?
19:08 Amanda Morales Pratt: So moving forward, this is like an initiative in its first year, so we’re… Basically, we’re seeing how this goes for this year, but what I will say is that hunger is not an issue that is only in 2020. And so, one of the goals of this work is to create stronger relationships between food pantries and gardeners, and to create new networks of self-reliance for food gardening in all sorts of neighborhoods and with different types of folks throughout the city in the region. So I think that, I would say, is a lot. But what we’re looking at moving forward is, how can we make a lasting impact through 2020 that extends beyond this year and to the years into the future?
19:55 Kurt Baker: No, that’s fantastic. I know there’s a lot of levels of this, so I’m envisioning the challenges might be a little bit different, like maybe in a center city situation and maybe people are more suburbian. So do you notice any different ways of approaching it if you’re dealing a very highly concentrated part of a city or if you’re out in the suburbs? Are there different ways of approaching it? Because we work differently, right? If you’re living in a large city, it’s very different than if you’re in the suburbs. Are there any differences between how they will each approach to try to get people to that level where they do have sufficient food supplies and things like that?
20:34 Amanda Morales Pratt: Sorry. Can you restate your question?
20:37 Kurt Baker: No, I just meant are the challenges any different when you’re dealing with maybe the center of Philadelphia as an example, are there some any unique challenges that maybe you face there whether it’s just from a structural standpoint, a cultural standpoint or anything like that? Is it approached any differently than maybe people that have a different maybe lifestyle? I live in the suburbs and I commute to the city. It’s just different. I’m envisioning that there might be some different challenges. I don’t know if that’s the case or not, but I was just wondering if it was a little bit different about how you might approach the two. If I happen to live in a city or if I happen to live outside, and you’re trying to help me to become a little more self-sufficient as far as my food goes.
21:19 Amanda Morales Pratt: What I would say is that the challenges are more related to access and things like that, being able to access gardening supplies, access to land, and things like that. Or like making sure the soil is good rather than having to use raised beds or containers. So it can be environmental issues related to that, access to land, and supplies, education. I think that those can be challenges that exist for people in suburbs and in urban areas.
21:55 Kurt Baker: No, that’s great. Is there any part of this initiative, is there any initiative to let people know that you’re available out there? I may be living at home feeling insecure about my food, are there ways that we can reach out and inform people, “Hey look, this is available and we’re willing to help you if you’re interested.” Do we do any outreach to people to try to make them aware that this actually exists? ‘Cause they may not even be aware some people that might have the need. Is there an effort there as well?
22:21 Amanda Morales Pratt: What I would say is, I think a lot of the direct relief outreach is happening more through our existing community partners for this project, which include Ample Harvest, that does this kind of work around mapping food pantries across the country. The Chester County Food Bank, who is also doing a good amount of work, with like providing gardening supplies and seedlings to underserved communities to build self-reliance, as well as, the Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger, Share, Philabundance and Food Connect who I mentioned earlier, who’s helping transport food from home gardeners and other gardeners to food pantries, if they’re not able to do so. So I think, I can’t say that… PHS can’t take… We can’t say that we’re the only person doing all these things, because the reality is, this is an effort that we maybe leading, but this is an existing space that a lot of these hunger relief organizations have been working in for a long time.
23:21 Kurt Baker: Well, no, no, I completely understand. It’s great you have guys that are helping to coordinate it. You’re listening to Master Your Finances. We’ll be right…
23:27 Kurt Baker: Welcome back. You’re listening to Master Your Finances. I am Kurt Baker, here with Amanda Pratt of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, and we’ve been talking about a great initiative that you guys have which is Harvest 2020. And you’re kind of overseeing this great movement, really, to get a lot of people together to get some food, gardening world connected to those who might have a need, and your goal is 100,000 people. So how are you coming with that goal? And you think that’s realistic… That seems like a lot of people to me, even for the Northeast. [chuckle] That’s a pretty ambitious goal, I think. So I guess, what are your thoughts about that? What’s your expectation to get 100,000 people involved in this? We wanna make sure you do that by the way. [chuckle]
24:12 Amanda Morales Pratt: Yeah, well, we need everybody involved but what I also know is…
24:14 Kurt Baker: Yeah.
24:16 Amanda Morales Pratt: We work with 300,000 people a year through our community garden work, through the Philadelphia Flower Show, and through our various gardening and horticulture-based initiatives throughout the year. So we feel very confident that within the greater Philadelphia region or other folks who are interested in this work in other regions, we can easily reach that number.
24:40 Kurt Baker: Great. Well, I think that’s fantastic and I know… I kinda knew this from the flower show thing ’cause the Philadelphia Flower Show is so huge, but I didn’t… Honestly, I didn’t realize how much you do in these other areas as far as helping with the food supply itself, which I think is an enormous issue. I constantly wonder about like, we talk about your 12% of people who are food insecure. And to me, that makes absolutely no sense. “You live in the wealthiest country in the world,” we export food all over the world. How the heck do we have people here locally that are not secure about their food? And that to me seems like a very solvable problem, and I’m very glad that you’re helping to really kinda put the pieces together to really get that food down to those who need it. And I know… I mean, I’m lucky I live in the… That’s my preference. I live in the suburbs. So for me, having a small garden is a relatively easy thing. But I know if I was in the city, I would think that would be a little more difficult. So, do you wanna describe for those people who live in the city, maybe some of the challenges they face and how they overcome them there in the city?
25:48 Amanda Morales Pratt: What I’ll say, related to urban agriculture is how we call it in the biz is that there has been people led community gardening and food redistribution, like a mutual aid work happening in the city for a very long time and…
26:08 Amanda Morales Pratt: We believe that people know best what are the things that they need assistance with, like when it comes to issues like this. What I’ll also say is that we also know that because of COVID and the resulting economic issues, and like job loss and things like that, many members of the greater PHS community have been impact… And like the Philadelphia, and like communities all over the country have been impacted by that. So it was just important to us, I think, to stay and it’s like this work of community gardening and organizing around like food has been happening all over the country and in our region for a very long time. And so I think we’re just making sure that we are trying to support and provide additional resources and connect people with… Connect all sorts of gardeners, both experts, new gardeners, people who display at the Philadelphia Flower Show, people who go there, you know, to get them involved so that they can grow food, share it with their neighbors, share it with food pantries, or give to support the work that PHS is doing to galvanize and support community-based work that’s addressing this.
27:22 Kurt Baker: So I wonder, I mean, just listening to the news and just knowing how our friends talk, and the fact that you… You know, even when you try to go shopping like the last couple of months, you go to the grocery store, I think a lot of people felt a little bit of food insecurity, even if it was modest, even if, they’re like, “Oh wow, all of sudden I can’t get everything I want.” And I don’t know why everybody got upset about toilet paper for some reason. I’m confused about that. But the food part was interesting to me. So I think the awareness of this whole issue has been risen, because no matter who you were, if you’re in a wealthy neighborhood or in a low… You know, moderate income neighborhood, I think everybody has been… Had a feeling of feeling a little bit more food-insecure, because nobody was really sure at some points like exactly what was happening with the food supply.
28:05 Kurt Baker: So have you noticed any additional awareness of what you’re doing as far as helping that 12%, that’s always there, that we’re trying to help? Because I kinda feel like myself, and my neighbors, and all of us are a little bit more aware. Are you seeing that on your end, or more people getting involved saying, “Hey look, I’m noticing this a little bit because I’m having trouble finding the fruits and vegetable I want when I go to the store. I can imagine those people who have this on an ongoing basis, because you know economically it’s tough for them as well, right?” So what have you kind of seen from that perspective, and as awareness, just everybody kind of knowing about these types of things now?
28:42 Amanda Morales Pratt: Speaking just for myself, I think that it has… I think everything that’s happened with this pandemic has built an increased amount of awareness for folks with… Who have more resources of like food insecurity, and because maybe they’ve experienced it in some small way for the first time. So I do think that there is an increased awareness of this issue. I’m glad for that because this has been an issue for as long… In this country for a very long time and in our region. And I think that we’re seeing that with Harvest 2020 because of people pledging to grow or to donate food. People wanting to get involved in an effort that’s bigger than themselves individually. Because I think it’s always powerful to feel like you’re part of a bigger movement, and that’s why we’re encouraging people who have the ability, interest, and or things like that to grow food and to share it with… For themselves to share with their neighbors, and/or like to give to support this work, because when COVID is over this is going to be continued. There’s still going to be food insecurity. So I think that anything that folks can do to help in this area is important. So I encourage folks to get involved with Harvest 2020.
30:04 Kurt Baker: No, I agree with you 100%, because even… You know, we do… Like, everybody else, you do food drives, things like that, around Thanksgiving, you do them around Christmas. So it seems like there’s this two or three months where we all become aware, that let’s help everybody, but people like to eat year-round. [chuckle]
30:16 Amanda Morales Pratt: They do.
30:17 Kurt Baker: So sometimes I say, “Hey look, if you wanna help somebody, why don’t you do it like in the off seasons, so to speak?” Because everybody seems to be doing it. You know, we all become aware and we become compassionate, but the compassion needs to be there year-round. And I think that we all need to be more aware. And again I would like to… And I don’t know if you have an answer to this. I don’t know if anybody has an answer to this, but how do we get that 12% down to zero? Because again, we have… It’s here, right? We have the food, we have the wealth. In my… My opinion is nobody should be going being food-insecure in the United States, I mean, it just… That just should not be happening. And so any thoughts about how we keep pushing that number down or can we push that number down? Has that been a pretty stabilized number, is it trending one way or another? I mean, I’d love to see that start to drop so that we can make… ‘Cause I know during the school interruption, some of these children their only good meal was the one they got at school, that they could rely on. And that to me is very disconcerting. That really concerns me, because especially young people, you need your food, you need your nutrition, you need it to think, to grow, etcetera, right? We all know that. And now that they’re home and their parents are not feeling secure, I don’t know, it just seems like we should be better at this. I don’t know what the answer is. [chuckle]
31:33 Amanda Morales Pratt: I do, I mean, we firmly believe that no one should be hungry.
31:37 Kurt Baker: Yeah.
31:38 Amanda Morales Pratt: And that everyone should have access to like fresh food enough for themselves and others. Like, this should not be an issue, but the unfortunate reality right now is that it is. And so that’s kind of why PHS is trying to do this work, because we… It’s like this is the way that within the work that we do, we could… Mobilizing gardeners that we can help. As opposed to… Like, looking at trying to end the issue of hunger, I would rely more on our hunger relief partners. I know a lot of… Hunger Free America has been doing studies for many years that a lot of these numbers come from, they’ll… On your 12% food insecurity, as well as on the statistic that one in five Philadelphians is food insecure specifically in that region.
32:25 Kurt Baker: Wow! That’s even higher, wow!
32:27 Amanda Morales Pratt: Yeah. So I think that that is a larger structural issue that I do not have the expertise to answer.
32:35 Kurt Baker: Okay, I’m just putting it out there as I think we should… Maybe we could all come together and come up with some kind of ideas. But I think getting that direct connection, ’cause I have noticed that has been… I’ve just heard of many people seeing how successful when you’ve got the people producing the food more connected to those who needed it, and as I mentioned, they had this over-supply and they were trying to disperse. And they did, and literally anyone could drive by certain times of the day and get food. So there was no reason for anybody not to have the food because they were saying, “We’ll bring it to you if you can’t get here. Come by, we’ll give it to you, don’t… No, no questions asked, no issues whatsoever.” Because there was plenty of food. And I think that somehow we need to allow this to happen. And I think by connecting those who are putting the food together, helping people to learn how to maybe produce a little bit of their own food when they can.
33:26 Kurt Baker: ‘Cause not everybody realizes that you can grow your own food if you have a little bit of time, and even if you do it in your porch, on your condominium or your apartment building in the city, you can do something, even if it’s only a small amount. So at least there’s a little bit there regardless of what’s going on. And becoming involved in these different community projects, I think is excellent. It sounds like you have a lot of different organizations together, and it’s just amazing work that you’re doing. You’re listening to Master Finances with the Philadelphia Horticultural Society. And we’ve been talking about Harvest 2020, and all the great work that you guys have been doing over there to try to really get this 100,000 people involved to really help more people have fresh foods and vegetables, which of course is extremely important.
34:17 Kurt Baker: Every time I read studies, which is interesting to me, and you can maybe talk to this just a little bit, but it’s like when you get lower on the socioeconomic scales so to speak, the food quality tends to drop, which is to me shocking. So you can go to a fast food restaurant, let’s say, we’ll pick on them for just a moment, and you buy something that’s really not good for you for like a dollar, whereas you look at the same place and it’s gonna cost you more for fresh fruits and vegetables, which in truth, really shouldn’t be the case, in my opinion, you should be able to get better food. So that’s critical to being healthy, and I think having ways to access good food is really, really, really important. And I think all of us are understanding that the better we eat, the healthier we feel, the better we feel, the less we’re gonna have as far as medical bills and just on and on and on. All the benefits of eating healthy, which is basically the fruits and vegetables, things that you’re talking about, really trying to help people to get to. And this Harvest 2020 is really trying to connect all those dots. So how can people get involved in really kind of moving this forward so we can get that 12% number down a little bit?
35:32 Amanda Morales Pratt: So what I would say if someone is interested in getting involved with the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s work with Harvest 2020, you can sign up to become a grower, which means you grow food for yourself and your family. You can sign up to be a sharer. So you grow food and donate it to others in your community, whether it’s in your neighborhood, your local Food Pantry or anything like that. Or you can give to PHS to support our work, because we are working very closely with community partners to support people in underserved communities to grow food for themselves and their neighbors, building self-reliance in their communities by helping to give access to gardening supplies as well as education materials through our community-based partners. So we are trying to get a 100,000 people involved with this work, and we firmly believe in the generosity and community-based thinking of this region, and we hope that folks, whether they live in the Greater Philadelphia region or elsewhere, sign up to support this kind of work within… Either within their own communities.
36:41 Kurt Baker: So that’s fantastic. So yeah, it sounds like there’s a couple of levels here. So when you grow for yourself and your family, and then you share it, was that like the extra row that you’re talking about, where they might get involved? And so we just do the same thing we’re doing every day, we just say, “Okay, we’re gonna grow just a little bit more, and then we’re gonna donate that back.” So that sounds pretty straight forward. That sounds pretty easy. Most of us, especially if you have already have the land, you can always add another row, pretty simple to do that. And then what’s… I think you talked about a sharer. What’s… How does that one work? You wanna explain that one a little bit for us again?
37:17 Amanda Morales Pratt: So you can sign up just to say that I’m growing… Being a grower, it’s like you’re shining up to grow food for yourself and your family. So you’re saying, “Hey, I am doing this for myself and my family, so it’s also about addressing all the different kinds folks that are getting involved with this work. Sharer is more the folks that are growing food to donate, as you described, like planting an extra row of potatoes and things like that so you donate to folks. And also, we have guidance on the kind of food that tends to be the most… Fresh food that’s the most shelf stable on our website.
37:53 Kurt Baker: Oh, any examples of that? That’d be interesting to me. So there’s some that maybe… I know my wife’s a pro at growing tomatoes, and I love tomatoes, so we’ll eat tomatoes for a couple of months. [laughter]
38:06 Amanda Morales Pratt: We’ve made a bunch of different… We call them the topping lists, but they’re basically different kinds of vegetables that folks can grow depending on their skill level. For example, for vegetable gardening for beginners, there’s things on there like green beans and like cucumbers, potatoes, sweet potatoes, Swiss chard, ’cause it’s like those things are not that difficult to plant and garden and grow.
38:32 Kurt Baker: Oh, okay.
38:32 Amanda Morales Pratt: And they tend to . So yeah.
38:36 Kurt Baker: Well, that’s great. So even if you’re relatively new to gardening… I think that’s sometimes what people think is, “Oh, gardening is really complicated and hard,” and I’d probably be in that boat because I could watch other people, I’m like, “Okay, well, if I was gonna do it for the first year. I’d be like, ‘What’s the easiest thing for me to start with?'” [chuckle] So at least at the end of the season I’ll be like, “Okay, I got something. [laughter] It worked.” [laughter] That’s gonna be my first goal is to say, “Okay, I planted it and it grew, fantastic, I didn’t kill it.” [laughter] Then I can get more exotic. ‘Cause I’ve been to the flower show, and some of those flowers they grow, I’m like, “I don’t know how the heck they grow those darn things.” [chuckle]
39:10 Amanda Morales Pratt: Yeah, I’ve always been impressed by the expertise of the gardeners that participate in the show every year and horticulturists, so… No, I totally hear you on that, but I think that people growing food is a thing that anyone can learn with the right supports and the right supplies and the right materials. So that’s something… We’re just trying to get everybody involved from that purpose, and if someone doesn’t wanna grow food themselves but has the funds to be able to donate to support other people growing food, we also welcome that. Anybody can be a part of this.
39:41 Kurt Baker: Yeah, no, no. Yeah, donations are always good, and I assume that they donate the funds and you go decide what supplies to buy, correct? That is how most… Yeah.
39:50 Amanda Morales Pratt: Well, we work with our community-based partners to identify what they need.
39:54 Kurt Baker: Right, right. So, yeah, I’ve always heard that as a, be careful about donating the actual items because it may not be what they need. It’s better if you can donate the funds and they can go buy exactly what’s needed for the specific purposes that are needed, and of course, that’s relatively easy from the donor’s perspective, if they can afford it, obviously, they just make the donation and they go forward and then… And that’s on the, your… What’s the site that we have?
40:20 Amanda Morales Pratt: Yeah.
40:20 Kurt Baker: PHS site, right? For Harvest 2020? You wanna give us that again so we have it?
40:25 Amanda Morales Pratt: Sure. Yeah, it is phsonline.org/harvest2020.
40:34 Kurt Baker: That’s amazing. So this is the first year you’re doing it. So, of your 300,000 people that you’re kinda connected with already, you’re hoping to get at least 100,000 involved, which is amazing. So you’re pretty confident you gonna do that. That’s an incredible number of people, I have to say. Kudos to that for getting all these people moving in the same direction, and I think a big part of this too, is just raising the awareness that this is needed. Because those of us that don’t… Aren’t necessarily concerned about our food supply, there’s a lot of people out there that are. And we need to remember that, and we need to do something about it because it’s certainly within our capability to, in my opinion, eliminate that 12%. Nobody in the United States should be going to bed hungry. That just should not be happening. And I really wanna give you credit for that. So here do we go from here now that, when we get this thing together, we’re gonna move ahead. And so where do we go from here?
41:30 Amanda Morales Pratt: Where we go from here is if folks listening today wanna get more involved, they can visit the website and pledge to become a part of this movement, whether they wanna grow and share, or if they want to give to support this work happening. We welcome anybody and everybody to get involved with this work.
41:49 Kurt Baker: Well, we appreciate that. And so how does the Philadelphia, the Flower Show, I guess, that’s always pretty cool. We’ve been going to that for a while. Are those some of the same people, the people that grow those of beautiful flowers, they all sorta… Are they gardeners, too? Is that what some of them are? I envision they’d be totally different things, but I’m like… I guess it’s similar. Right? I don’t know, I mean, ’cause you do more than one thing, right? So you have… You wanna go over your mission again about what the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society does? ‘Cause you do a number of different things, and I wanna make sure people know like what you guys are doing there, ’cause it’s far more than I thought. I just thought of you as the Philadelphia Flower Show, and I know you guys do a lot more than that. So let’s… Why don’t you tell us what you guys do?
42:31 Amanda Morales Pratt: I am happy to share that. So, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, our mission is to use horticulture to advance the health and well-being of the Greater Philadelphia region. And what that means is we’re working to increase the four building blocks of health and well-being, which we identify as access to fresh food, healthy living environments, deep social connections, and economic opportunities. We do that through a variety of work, including this project, Harvest 2020. But Harvest 2020 dovetails naturally into what we call our Healthy Neighborhoods work, which includes everything from providing support to community gardens, planting trees to increase the tree canopy throughout the region, both in the city as well as in various like water… Delaware Valley Watershed and other areas, transforming vacant lots into green spaces to be… So that they can then be transformed maybe into businesses or gardens or public parks, a variety of new uses so they can be reactivated, working on storm water management with our partners with the Water Department in the city, as well as our workforce development programs which include a program called Roots to Re-entry which works with folks who are incarcerated in the Philadelphia prison system, or have been doing job training around horticulture and gardening, and landscape management.
44:00 Kurt Baker: Oh, that’s fantastic. So you’re teaching people a really usable skill before they come back… That’s fantastic, so… That’s incredible. So when they come out, they’ll have some job training and they’ll have some skill sets and everything. Well, I have to say, you guys are amazing. You’re doing amazing work, and we appreciate you really taking what’s a very difficult situation with the pandemic and so forth, and really raising awareness about something that’s been going on forever, basically, in the United States, and something that we really all need to be focused on which is those who do go to bed hungry. And we need to really address that, and I’m glad you guys are doing your part to help bring the community together to do that. You’ve been listening to Master Your Finances, and you can listen to us on the podcast, which is… All the podcasts, which are at masteryourfinances.us And remember that together, we can master your finances, so you can enjoy financial peace of mind.