Chester farm feeds the body and soul of a community

Ahmaj Jackson, 14, wheels fresh produce around the Ruth Bennett Community Farm in Chester, Pennsylvania. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Ahmaj Jackson, 14, wheels fresh produce around the Ruth Bennett Community Farm in Chester, Pennsylvania. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Chester’s Ruth Bennett Community Farm is a vibrant oasis in a desert of dull brick and lifeless concrete.

Tucked below Interstate 95 at the top of a cul-de-sac, the 2-acre farm teems with life: organic produce, wildflowers, and a host of winged insects that flutter between the two.

“This is like a resurrection of life here,” assistant manager Malik Savage said during a recent visit.

Steven Fisher, executive director of the Chester Housing Authority (third from left); Malik Savage, assistant manager of Ruth Bennett Community Farm (fourth from left); and Natania Schaumburg, manager of Ruth Bennett Community Farm (fifth from left), with their teenage staff. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

The farm, managed by the Chester Housing Authority, is also a place where residents can snag groceries.

Between June and October, Bennett operates a weekly farm stand where people can walk up and buy fresh fruit and vegetables at a discount, a noteworthy opportunity in a city with just one supermarket, and a big deal to Savage.

The Ruth Bennett Community Farm in Chester, Pennsylvania, borders a city housing project. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

“You get to help people who are disenfranchised, that don’t have the privilege that a lot of people have,” he said.

All proceeds from the stand are plowed back into the farm so it can continue feeding, and boosting, the community the way it has for more than a decade — one sale at a time.

Chester teenagers work at the Ruth Bennett Community Farm stand. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)
An intern serves a pesto salad at the Ruth Bennett Community Farm in Chester, Pennsylvania. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)
Flowers grown at the Ruth Bennett Community Farm sell for $3 a bouquet. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)
Oregano grows at the Ruth Bennett Community Farm in Chester, Pennsylvania. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)
A butterfly enjoys the flowers at the Ruth Bennett Community Farm in Chester, Pennsylania. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

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