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 plan to enlist up to 20 additional gardeners to grow specific produce for donation under our Free Gift Garden project. These smaller-parcel growers will be given the materials and volunteer support to plant, cultivate and harvest a garden on their property. They will retain some produce for their own use while donating at least 50% of their harvest to our food distribution partners.

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

Going forward, we will benefit from the support of PSU soil scientist Professor Ephraim Govere, leader of the Keller Street Community Garden, and our gardening consultant.

VISION

Provide fresh, locally grown vegetables and fruit as part of the effort to eliminate food insecurity within Centre County.

MISSION

  • Expand the amount and type of fruit and produce grown to better meet the needs and preferences of our distribution partners and their clients.
  • Increase volunteer support and funding to plant, grow, and deliver sustainable annual harvests to our food distribution partners.
  • Recruit a wider range of individuals and corporations within our local communities to support the Mission.

VALUES

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

Founding Members

Coordinator of all the growers. Bill 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.

Ken is the originator of the “Think We, not Me” community movement and developed the small-grower Gift Garden concept.

It was suggested he contact master gardener Bill Zimmer when he posted this message and it was 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.”

Lead volunteer recruiter, coordinator, and program administrator. Primary liaison with our Food Distribution Partners for harvested produce planning and pickup.

Helped create the largest TWnM field and maintains the farming equipment. Manages website development and administrative tools for the program.

Principal Growers

Norm is one of the original growers that started the group (‘preceding’) our Think We, not Me Community Garden 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 also is passionate about teaching others the joys of gardening. His home gardens are a showcase for various seminars and classes.

In 2020, TWnM was offered the opportunity to join The Friends’ Meeting and the Homestead Fund at the Keller Street Community Garden to grow fresh, herbicide and pesticide-free produce. This fertile little 14-plot garden was enhanced over the course of the growing season and in 2021 an additional 100 square feet will be added for our use.

In addition to their financial commitment, in 2021 Nittany Settlement Company will donate the use of an acre of their land for growing sweet corn and other row crops. The site is currently farmed by Don Irvin Jr. who will cultivate the area and plant our crops for us.

This is the largest garden in the TWnM Community Food Growing Program. Last year this land provided over 7,000 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 that includes a 12 fruit tree 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 10+ varieties of tomatoes and other vegetables for the Think We, Not Me community harvest.

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

2020

Overcoming A Year Of Challenges

Growers Increased Their Output

  • PSU half of 2019 output…unavailable in 2020
  • Principal Growers cultivated 50% more land.
  • SC Friends Meeting donated plots at Keller St. Community Garden….. expanding their partnership in 2021
  • Common Ground Farm, whose business was impacted by COVID-19, donated 3000+ lbs. of tomatoes!!!

Record Number of Volunteers

  • Volunteers from Liberty Hill community, Nextdoor Neighborhood, and elsewhere completed a record harvest!
  • Young adults impacted by the virus-related closings joined our team.
  • Volunteers led the field prep, planting, and harvesting at SC Friends Meeting Community Garden.
  • Rock clearing and soil improvement by volunteers paved the way for a more productive 2021.

New Crops For Our Partners

  • 19 produce items provided more choices.
  • Traditional favorites like lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumbers grown in record amounts.
  • Potatoes and carrots were grown for the 1st time…spinach, red and yellow peppers, sugar snap peas coming in 2021
  • Testing by PSU soil scientist Professor Ephraim Govere underway to better match crops to locations for optimum yield

New Distribution Partners

  • Record demand for food due to COVID.
  • TWnM harvest targeted to organizations with the largest client numbers.
  • 8 new organizations served by our efforts.
  • Harvest expanded to County-wide partners.
  • Balanced mix of food banks, civic and faith-based partners accommodated.

IN THE NEWS