Bog Turtle Creek Farm, located in Berks County, PA, is an inspiring program that aims to make healthy and fresh produce available to families in the city of Reading. The program, a student-led response to food deserts, provides healthy, affordable food options for low-income families in the community.
At the helm of this program is Ethan LaVerdure, a student at Alvernia University, who serves as the student lead for the farm and agreed to speak more about the mission and achievements of Bog Turtle Creek. With so many great farms and agricultural products in Berks County, Bog Turtle Creek Farm’s efforts underscore just how crucial it is for everyone to have access to great food. Let’s delve a little deeper into what makes the farm such a committed group of community members, a great agricultural provider, and a cost-effective business.
Bog Turtle Creek Farm In the Community
One of the primary goals of Bog Turtle Creek Farm is to provide fresh and quality produce to people in the city at a reasonable price. To achieve this, the farm attends several markets every week.
During the summer, the farm sells at the Penn Street Market, where they can see between 500 and 1,000 people each week. The Penn Street Market is the only farmer’s market in Berks County that currently accepts the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), but Bog Turtle Creek Farm is working on accepting it at other markets. They also accept Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) checks for $6 for those over the age of 60 and mothers.
Locally Sourced & Seasonal Produce
The produce offered by the farm includes strawberries, blueberries, oranges and apples, in addition to a variety of peppers, tomatoes, cabbage, lettuces, spinach, squash, zucchini, potatoes, garlic and herbs. At the moment, it is not selling its own produce due to the season, but most of the vegetables are locally grown, and it tries to get produce grown in PA. Generally speaking, buying locally grown produce is almost always the best option. It’s going to be cheaper, and you know where your food is coming from, LaVerdure said. In grocery stores, genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are common, and it’s hard to know where your food is sourced.
The farm is currently preparing for the summer market season by planting its seed starts and readying the greenhouse to prepare for spring gardening. It purchases gardening supplies and seeds from Rohrer’s Seeds in Lancaster, an organic seed supplier, and supplies from Nolt’s Greenhouse. The farm’s planning to plant its own produce in April and sell it at markets during the beginning of June or July.
Spring Gardening & Summer Expansion
If you’re looking to start your own garden this spring, there are a few tips you should keep in mind, LaVerdure said. The first is to get your soil tested. If there aren’t enough nutrients in the ground, your produce won’t do well. You should also till the ground up at the end of the season to prepare for the next year. Bog Turtle Creek Farm recommends doing seed starts early, at least five weeks before planting.
The farm is also working on creating a farm stand for the summer! This will be the first year that there will be a farm stand. Located on High Boulevard, the stand will only be a half-mile from the entrance to the Alvernia campus.
Shop Local in Berks County
Bog Turtle Creek Farm is an excellent example of a student-led program in Berks County that aims to provide healthy and fresh produce accessible to low-income families. When you buy from local farmers or start your own garden, you can rest assured that you’re getting fresh and healthy produce. The Bog Turtle Creek program’s members make it their mission to attend multiple markets, making it easier for families to access fresh fruits and vegetables.