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Hershey’s Community Gardens

Springtime in Hershey Gardens. ca. 1979-1990
Springtime in Hershey Gardens. ca. 1979-1990

Evidence to the contrary, Spring is just around the corner. As soon as the ground thaws, gardeners will be out, clearing away winter’s debris, preparing the garden beds and planting the first crops of the season: cabbage, beets, snow peas, kale and broccoli, to name a few.

Home gardens are a great way to grow fresh vegetables. There is nothing better than a ripe tomato, just picked. But what about people who don’t have a backyard or enough sunshine in their yards to grow vegetables? This spring, Hershey will launch its Community Garden, a partnership of Hershey’s corporate entities and the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. Its purpose to to provide gardening space to employees and residents.

Hershey has a long tradition of helping residents without backyards to grow some of their own food.

During World War I, the United States government promoted community gardens to supplement and expand the domestic food supply. In 1917 Hershey responded by setting aside six acres of ground in East Hershey [east of Homestead Road, probably bounded on the south by Areba Avenue] for a community farm.  Rohrer Snavely was placed in charge. In the March 22, 1917 issue of the Hershey Press, an article said the project planned to hire boys who wanted to learn garden farming while being paid.

The program expanded to include gardens for girls the following month.

In 1918, Hershey, along with much of the nation, encouraged citizens to plant “War Gardens” to help with the war effort. Hershey’s efforts in promoting public vegetable gardens ended with the conclusion of World War I.

It was not until the United States’ entry into World War II that Hershey again began to sponsor community garden plots as part of the homefront’s efforts to support the war effort.

Want to know more?  Check out the Archives’ latest addition about the history of community gardens in Hershey.

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