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How Volunteering on an Urban Farm Has Helped Me Grow

By August 3, 2017August 23rd, 2021Community Employees Volunteerism

Volunteerism is a lot like gardening — you reap what you sow.

Working with the Blue Crew at the Share Food Program in Philadelphia has taught me how this proverb applies to giving one’s time and talent. By spending a year at Share’s distribution warehouse and urban farm, a love of volunteerism and gardening has bloomed in me, and I’ve also seen it in the faithful volunteers who join me every month.

The Joy of Feeding Our Community

How were the seeds of serving planted in my soul? After volunteering at a few different events in early 2016, I was approached by the Blue Crew to lead the new Share Food Program site one Saturday a month, which includes working in their warehouse and on the Nice Roots Farm.

Share provides emergency food relief (over 25 million pounds of food annually), a nutritious food package program, a government supplemental food program, and an abundance of other services — helping an average of 607,513 individuals each month.

The opportunity to work outdoors in the plant beds, in the high-tunnel greenhouses, and in the orchard on Hunting Park Avenue has been unique and rewarding.

It’s an incredible feeling to help feed fellow Philadelphians while learning timeless skills in the garden!

Erin volunteering on an urban farm

For Every Season, There is a Job to Be Done

It’s amazing to be part of a year in the life an organization that serves the community in this way, and for every season, there is a job at Share.

Over this past year, we harvested vegetables before the first frost in the fall, sorted donated holiday dry goods through the winter, pruned the orchard at the onset of spring, and planted fresh crops in the summer.

Helping a Beautiful Thing Blossom

For me, volunteering at Share is an example of how — despite challenging circumstances like poverty and hunger — a beautiful thing can grow with the right amount of care and nourishment from hard-working people.

Because of my Saturday mornings spent on Hunting Park Avenue, I’ve learned that taking the first step to give of one’s time — especially working with an organization you are passionate about — can blossom into a lifelong passion for volunteering.

I’m looking forward to continuing to grow!


Erin Brookes

I am a proposal specialist at IBX. When not at the office, you can likely find me Indego-ing around the city, trying new restaurants, or headed down the Shore. My favorite yearly tradition is the Blue Cross Broad Street Run & I am so glad to work for a company that is so invested in this wonderful city of ours.