PCOM and Greener Partners Collaborate to Plant Community Garden
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Growing a Healthier Community

June 4, 2024
PCOM staff members and Philadelphia activists smile as they plant seedlings at a community garden in the Lancaster neighborhood of Philadelphia.

In a collaborative effort between the PCOM Lancaster Avenue Division Healthcare Center, Community Wellness Initiative (CWI), and Greener Partners, the Lancaster Health Garden is blossoming into a vibrant space filled with fresh herbs and vegetables.

This project is more than just a garden; it's a testament to the community's dedication to health, wellness and accessibility.

With the support of the Lancaster Teaching Kitchen, the garden's produce will be used in weekly food demonstrations, showcasing how easy and beneficial it is to incorporate fresh, home-grown food into daily meals.

Kristen Berry, DO, assistant professor, family medicine, is a passionate advocate for the garden.

“We're showing patients that they can grow their own fresh fruits and vegetables,” she said. “Hopefully we can bring them out here to show them how it's done.”

Berry emphasized the simplicity and accessibility of home gardening.

“You don't need much space; you can put it on your steps or windowsill. Just grow it, harvest it, cook it, eat it!”

Participants use their hands to plant seedlings in a community garden bed in Philadelphia

The garden has already seen the planting of over 80 seedlings, with plans to reach 125 in celebration of PCOM's anniversary. This initiative is part of a broader mission to make healthy eating both affordable and practical for everyone.

“There's always the excuse that eating healthy is expensive,” said Berry. “This is one way to show the community that they can do it.”

Flo Byarms, director of CWI, shared her enthusiasm for the project, highlighting the strategic partnership with Greener Partners.

“Knowing there was space in the back parking lot [of the healthcare center], we partnered with Greener Partners because they are the experts in this area,” she explained. “This is an expansion of our efforts to continue educating patients and community members about the accessibility of these types of food.”

Byarms believes in the power of gardening not only for its physical benefits but also for its mental health advantages.

PCOM students and members of Greener Partners smile as they construct a community garden wooden plot next to a Philadelphia street

“Gardening is peaceful to me, so to have other folks see that they can participate in gardening for health and mental benefits is calming.”

As the garden continues to flourish, it exemplifies what can be achieved when a community comes together with a shared vision of health and wellness.

“Healthy food is something we can all take part in,” Byarms said. “Part of my life's mission is to give joy, peace and accessibility to the community. These plants are growing right in your neighborhood, so they can grow on your porch too.”

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About Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine

For the past 125 years, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM) has trained thousands of highly competent, caring physicians, health practitioners and behavioral scientists who practice a “whole person” approach to care—treating people, not just symptoms. PCOM, a private, not-for-profit accredited institution of higher education, operates three campuses (PCOM, PCOM Georgia and PCOM South Georgia) and offers doctoral degrees in clinical psychology, educational psychology, osteopathic medicine, pharmacy, physical therapy, and school psychology. The college also offers graduate degrees in applied behavior analysis, applied positive psychology, biomedical sciences, forensic medicine, medical laboratory science, mental health counseling, physician assistant studies, and school psychology. PCOM students learn the importance of health promotion, research, education and service to the community. Through its community-based Healthcare Centers, PCOM provides care to medically underserved populations. For more information, visit pcom.edu or call 215-871-6100.

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Brandon Lausch
Executive Director, Strategic Communications
Email: brandonla@pcom.edu
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