Our Story

2008

Our project started when Master Gardener-trained Bill Zimmer and Norm Knaub cultivated parcels of land on their properties to grow produce to donate to area food banks.

2018

Ken Lipson agreed to use a portion of his property to grow food for the hungry.

2019

Gaining assistance from Penn State University (PSU), Americorp, and various volunteer groups, we harvested 25,000 lbs. of fruit and produce (1/2 grown by PSU) and donating all to Centre County food distribution Centers.

2020

COVID-19 hit, shutting down all growing activity and volunteer support from the University for TWnM.

Undaunted, Ken and Bill expanded their fields and gardens to maximize their output. With assistance in field preparation and equipment maintenance from Jim Boyce, and Karen Robinson assuming expanded volunteer and administrative responsibilities, the volunteer base of TWnM grew to over 50 people. Our Principal Grower properties increased to 5, Centre County Distribution Centers to 19+, growing and distributing over 15,000 lbs. of produce for the food insecure.

2021

We enlisted additional gardeners to grow more produce and expanded our administrative support to manage volunteers and distribution. Penn State was again able to donate vegetables from their gardens and we established additional relationships with the Ag college that may substantially expand the amount of produce we deliver in the future. We had the benefit of our first group volunteering days and look to do more of these going forward.

Funding for a major portion of seeds, seedlings, and supplies in 2021 was provided through the generous support of the Nittany Settlement Company.

VISION

Provide fresh, locally grown vegetables and fruit for free as part of our effort to eliminate food insecurity primarily within Centre County, PA.

MISSION

  • Expand the amount and type of fruit and vegetables grown and harvested to better meet the needs and preferences of the clients of our distribution partners.
  • Increase volunteer support and funding to plant, grow, and deliver sustainable annual harvests.
  • Optimize the use of distribution partners to efficiently reach the greatest number of individuals in need.
  • Engage a wider range of individuals and organizations within our local communities to support the Mission.

VALUES

  • Engage a diverse and inclusive group of volunteers and supporters.
  • Respect and value the unique capabilities of all who support the program.

Board Officers

Bill is President and coordinator of all the growers. He is Master Gardener trained and has been growing for the local Food Banks, along with Norm Knaub, for the last 12 years. He provides overall direction as to what is planted, when things are planted and who grows them, how to properly maintain the crops, and when harvesting is optimum. He is a primary liaison with the community organizations that provide funding and volunteer support.

Karen is the Vice President, program administrator and lead recruiter and coordinator of volunteer activities. She serves as the primary liaison with our Food Distribution Partners, coordinating the harvested produce planning and pickup. She is a primary liaison with the community organizations that provide funding and volunteer support.

Ken is the Treasurer and originator of the “Think We, not Me” community movement. Years earlier, it was suggested he contact master gardener Bill Zimmer and he posted this message. It became one of the proudest & most fulfilling things he has done in his life:

“Looking for help and ideas…I have 6 cleared field acres along Boal Ave. and wish to eventually use up to 1 acre to grow crop/food and donate all locally to the county food banks……I have a tractor, some funding dollars to get it off the ground, & a desire, but don’t have the real knowledge as to farming & field preparation.…any who wish to join me, noodle ideas around & be part of it in any way are welcome. A pipe dream? Perhaps….. but I throw it out there and invite anyone interested to get ‘We, Not Me’ off the ground.”

Jim is the Secretary and manages our corporation as a non-profit public charity. He maintains our field equipment and manages the website and administrative tools for the program. He helped establish and maintains one of the largest fields among our growers.

Tess joined the Board of Directors in June 2022 and serves as our Director of Administration working with Karen Robinson on all things Administrative. Her prior service as a dedicated and capable volunteer coupled with her expertise in nonprofit administration, volunteer coordination, event planning and fundraising make Tess a most qualified addition to our governance team.

Growers

Norm is one of the original growers that started the group (‘preceding’) our Think We, not Me Community Food Growing Program. Norm is a Centre County Master Gardener who serves as Co-chair of their project to distribute vegetable seedlings to the local Food Banks. While gardening is Norm’s passion, he is passionate about teaching others the joys of gardening. His home gardens are a showcase for various seminars and classes.

This field in Port Matilda is about 1/4 acre, growing primarily broccoli and cauliflower.  The produce grown here generally goes to Port Matilda Common Food and the Phillipsburg area food bank. In addition to growing her crops, Dr. Hermann, a PSU entomology professor, is conducting research on sustainable alternatives for pest management on potatoes at our Boalsburg grower location.

This is one of the largest gardens in the TWnM Community Food Growing Program. Last year this land provided over 4,000 lbs. of produce for the county food banks, growing corn, potatoes, multiple squash, melons and more.  The location also serves as a primary distribution location for pick up and delivery.

Bill has about ½ acre under management and a 12-tree fruit orchard. He grows some of the main crops as well as the more challenging produce to include Canary and Crenshaw melons, cauliflower, seedless watermelons, and assorted red, yellow and orange peppers. Bill also arranges for the growing and purchasing of over 3000 seedlings to be grown by all participants.

Common Ground Organic Farm began growing heirloom organic vegetables for our communities in 1986. Four generations of the Zuck-Sandoval-Lopez family help plant, cultivate and harvest multiple varieties of tomatoes and other vegetables for the Think We, Not Me community harvest.

Michael and Tara Immel purchased this property in 2021 and generously set aside one acre for the TWnM Community Food Growing Program. The site is planted in corn, melons, pumpkins and squash.

The new owner of this Harris Twp. property graciously offered TWnM the opportunity to harvest all of the apples, peaches and pears in his 80-tree orchard in return for our annual pruning and maintenance of the trees.

This 1500-tree orchard grows 9 varieties of apples and is located in Bedford County, PA. The owner maintains the tress and has opened up the property for harvesting by TWnM. Based on our ability to recruit volunteers, we have the potential to deliver over 100,000 lbs. of fruit to the Central PA Food Bank network.

This Centre Hall location has 40 blueberry bushes as well as apple and pear trees. The owners generously allow TWnM to harvest these much-desired berries and fruit in return for our light maintenance of the trees.

Our Grower location in Port Matilda is about 1/4 acre, planted primarily with broccoli and cauliflower.  The produce grown here generally goes to Port Matilda Common Food and the Phillipsburg area food bank. In addition to maintaining their fields, Dr. Hermann, a PSU entomology professor, is conducting research on sustainable alternatives to achieve pest management on potatoes at our Boalsburg grower location.

2021

Building A Brighter Future

33,000 lbs. Grown…29 different Items

  • 6 primary growers produced 19,000 lbs. on 4 acres.
  • One grower provided 6,000 lbs. of corn from 1 acre.
  • 4 orchards provided 6000 lbs. of fruit.
  • PSU provided 2000 lbs. of onions.

Planted and Harvested by a Record Number of Volunteers

  • 65 individuals and groups.
  • A core group of 15-20 volunteers did much of the work.
  • Well over 1000 hours of service time.
  • Group volunteering will be critical for our expansion

And Delivered to 17 Distribution Partners

  • 3 partners handled 85% of available produce… largest food banks in Centre County.
  • 14 smaller non-profits reach a variety of clients with fresh and prepared foods.
  • Association with Central PA Food Bank will expand access to resources outside of Centre County

With New Partners and Possibilities on the Horizon!

  • “Feeding Pennsylvania” program offers access to partners and funding
  • Access to a Central PA orchard with 180,000# of apples.
  • Penn State collaboration may yield additional 50,000# of vegetables.
  • Incorporated as a PA non-profit and obtained tax-exempt 501(c)(3) designation…opportunity for new financial supporters.

IN THE NEWS