Posted in the ‘Daily Local News’ on September 1, 2017. Article by Brian McCullough
Saint-Gobain has discovered a new use for its showcase North American headquarters property near Malvern.
On Wednesday the company officially opened a community garden on the property where employees are raising and donating produce to a program that supplies area food banks with fresh fruit and vegetables.
“This is the epitome of everything our program has come to mean,” said David Ryle, Food For All program director with the Triskeles group. Saint-Gobain has donated 2,000 pounds of produce to Triskeles since May.
“It has had incredible impact,” Ryle said. “It’s great to see that it will continue to grow in future years.”
Carmen Ferrigno, vice president of communications for Saint-Gobain, said the garden is a pilot program that the international company is watching to see if it is viable at its other locations.
The growing started out small but expanded after the Saint-Gobain Foundation contributed a $30,000 grant. The funding allowed for fencing and irrigation in the 20-bed garden outside of the company’s North American headquarters on Moores Road. The garden patch was designed to show off many of the building products the company makes.
Ferrigno said employees came to him with the idea of expanding the program. Now, 70 Saint-Gobain employees are involved with the garden, growing tomatoes, kale, spinach and more.
“People are excited about this,” said Jessica Floersch, communications specialist at Saint-Gobain. “It’s a chance to come out and do good not just for yourself but for others. It’s really rewarding for our employees.”
And while some might think there is no need for such a program in one of the wealthiest counties in the nation, that is not the case, said Anne Shuniak, community engagement and marketing manager for Chester County Food Bank.
“One in 10 people struggle with food insecurity” in Chester County, Shuniak said. “If you don’t think that matters, try not eating lunch today and dinner tonight and see how it feels. Or see how your employer feels (about your productivity).”
Wednesday’s ceremony included guided garden tours, walk-through demonstrations of the planting and harvesting process, and was capped by a 300-pound donation to Chester County Food Bank.
“Hunger remains hidden, even in Chester County,” Ryle said. “There are 75,000 people impacted by food insecurity” in the county and many more in the region, he added.
The Food For All program, started in 2011, has donated more than 90,000 pounds of fresh, organic produce to neighborhood pantries and food cupboards in Chester, Philadelphia and Montgomery counties. Last year alone, more than 32,000 pounds were given to people in need through the program.
CertainTeed, a Saint-Gobain company that is headquartered on the same property, is one of 15 partners.
“And this year we have approximately 260 beds in production,” said Triskeles COO Lisa Faranda. “Food For All is a program Triskeles is very proud of, and it continues to have significant impact on the problem of food insecurity and access to nutrient dense food for those who are hungry or food insecure. And, it’s many more people than most of think – many of our neighbors struggle, and we don’t realize it.”