The Coventry Branch Garden Project is just one more way that Malvern Bank gives back to the communities it serves.
“Back in 2013, we came up with the idea of helping out the Chester County Food Bank,” said Patricia McLennan, Senior Vice President and Director of Community Development at Malvern Bank. “Our Coventry office, just south of Pottstown at the intersection of routes 100 and 23, had room where they felt they could build raised gardens and grow fresh vegetables to help those who were less fortunate.”
With help from volunteers at the Food Bank, two raised beds (each six feet by 10 feet) were constructed and planted with crops that would eventually be harvested and donated to the Food Bank for distribution to various food “cupboards” throughout the county. Kale was one of the first crops planted, years before the leafy green vegetable became trendy. Varieties of peppers and tomatoes currently make up the bulk of the produce grown, at the request of the Food Bank.
According to McLennan, Malvern Bank had a contest to name the project, and “Grow It Forward” was chosen to reinforce the bank’s mission to be more than just a financial presence in the community.
“We have had great participation from employees, and in 2014, we received an award from the Pennsylvania Association of Community Bankers for this project,” she said. “We took a lot of pride in that.”
All employees at the Coventry branch, along with some family members, worked at the garden this summer, taking turns planting, weeding, and picking the produce.
This year, the Food Bank asked the members of the Coventry branch to donate their produce directly to a cupboard of their choice that was closer and more convenient, so the vegetables would be fresher when they arrived. And since several members of the Coventry staff live in Downingtown, the Lord’s Pantry was selected as the recipient.
Now, Malvern Bank staffers can drop off donated crops on their way home from work.
The Lord’s Pantry of Downingtown is a nonprofit that has been in operation for more than 50 years. The all-volunteer organization currently serves 700 registered families an eight- to nine-day supply of food that includes non-perishables, meat selections, fresh vegetables, and dairy products.
McLennan is proud of what Malvern Bank has done over the years to assist nonprofits.
“We work in the community where you live, and we want to give back, and this garden is one of our initiatives,” she said. “We all do our part. It’s just the culture of our organization.”