York Fresh Food Farms is the City of York’s first urban. 

York Fresh Food Farms is a 501(c)(3), nonprofit organization that was created to reduce hunger in York County, Pennsylvania, by growing and distributing nutritious food for those in need.  The project started in 2014 as an initiative of the York County Food Alliance to increase access to fresh local food.  York Fresh Food Farms’ mission is to increase safe, healthy food choices to build a healthier community and, through sustainable, organic farming, to operate a community demonstration farm as a resource for the City of York.

2018 will be York Fresh Food Farms’ third growing season.  York Fresh Food Farms is farming on 4+ acres at 2 locations in the City of York: at 150 Willis Road (provided to York Fresh Food Farms by The Housing Authority of the City of York) and behind the offices of TruNorth Wellness Services at 1195 Roosevelt Avenue.  The Willis Road farm site is located within the Housing Authority’s 266-unit Parkway Homes development.  The TruNorth site is located one mile (about a 3 minute drive) from 150 Willis Road.

In 2018 York Fresh Food Farms will fully scale up York Fresh Food Farms’ farming operation using all the additional acreage at 1195 Roosevelt Avenue, having full growing season (May to November) and succession planting (growing one crop after another to get 2 or 3 harvests from the same land).  York Fresh Food Farms is expanding its production further with two 12’ x 16’ donated greenhouses (one heated) for growing transplants from seed and a 2,500 square foot high tunnel (an unheated plastic greenhouse purchased with a grant from USDA NRCS) that will enable York Fresh Food Farms to grow vegetables all year round.  The Farm Manager’s goal is 12 tons of vegetables in 2018.  This year, York Fresh Food Farms will launch its Mobile Produce Market operation on June 1.

York Fresh Food Farms’ production agriculture follows organic methods using plastic mulch, (straw mulch for some crops), drip-line irrigation and fertigation (applying dissolved fertilizer with irrigation) to reduce water usage, prevent erosion and increase yield.  Farm Manager Bruce Manns oversees and directs the farming operations with the help of one or more part time, seasonal workers.  Volunteers also help with farm work and administration.

York Fresh Food Farms donates part of its harvest to a variety of York City feeding programs, food pantries, health clinics and nutrition programs including: Family First Health, Catholic Harvest Food Pantry, LifePath Christian Ministries, York Penn State Extension’s  Nutrition Links program, Diabetes Day at the WellSpan Community Health Center, Katallasso Family Health Center and the Northeast Neighborhood Association Food Pantry.

Pop-up farmers markets, held over 10 weeks in August, September and October of 2017 and co-hosted with 12 different organizations at a variety of locations in the City of York, have helped York Fresh Food Farms prepare and plan for the 2018 Mobile Produce Market operation by identifying market partners, finding locations for market stops that will serve underserved York City neighborhoods and learning what vegetables, and information about vegetables, customers need and want.

York Fresh Food Farms Mobile Produce Market operation – a shuttle bus customized into a farm-stand-on-wheels – will start on June 1.  The Mobile Produce Market will follow a regular schedule with stops throughout York City to bring affordable, farm-fresh produce to underserved and food insecure neighborhoods and to York City residents with limited transportation.  The Mobile Produce Market is the key to achieving York Fresh Food Farms’ goal to provide high quality produce to underserved York City residents, address food access inequities, spread the word about nutritious, good tasting fruits and vegetables and eating healthy and increase the consumption of fruits and vegetables in the City of York.  Look for our mobile market bus!

Spring – March 2019

It must be spring because suddenly there’s lots of activity involving York Fresh Food Farms.

Look for the blue tractor and the green bus in the York St. Patrick’s Day Parade stepping off at 1pm on Saturday, March 16.

Vegetable seedlings are growing in the greenhouse. The rhubarb is peeking up through the straw mulch. We’ll be seeing asparagus very soon.

Farm Manager Bruce Manns is making sure his equipment is clean and in good working order and organizing the work out in the fields that will be starting soon.

We have a tentative schedule for the 2019 Mobile Produce Market and a starting date of May 31, 2019, weather permitting.

Look for the bright green Mobile Market bus at the Latino Health Summit in York on April 18.

September at York Fresh Food Farms

Fall Crops.  September is the time of transition at York Fresh Food Farms.  The height of the harvest season has passed.  The onions and winter squash have all been harvested.  The tomato plants are dying back.  We continue to harvest okra, egg plant, green beans, leeks and peppers.  We have fall collard greens and kale and a few pints of fall raspberries (this is only their first bearing year).  In a couple of weeks, as the weather cools, we’ll have lots of lettuce, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower.  We are grateful for all the volunteers that are helping us care for and harvest this bounty.

Calabaza, recao, peppers.  York Fresh Food Farms has a bumper crop of calabaza, recao (almost ready to harvest) and peppers – sweet and hot, green, red, yellow and orange.

Salem Square is New Market Stop at 585 W. Princess Street.  Starting September 21st, the Mobile Produce Market will have an additional stop in the west side of the City of York in the Salem Square Neighborhood at 585 W. Princess Street.  It is very exciting to be able to expand the mobile market to Salem Square.  The Mobile Produce Market will be in Salem Square on the following days:

Thursday Sept. 20 from 5 to 6:30 pm
Thursday Oct 4 from 5 to 6:30 pm
Thursday Oct 18 from 5 to 6:30 pm
Thursday Nov 1 from 5 to 6:30 pm.

The Mobile Produce Market.  The Mobile Produce Market served its 1,500th customer on August 30th and has served more than 1700 customers.  The average purchase is $6.50.  Not surprisingly we see the greatest number and the greatest diversity of customers at the rabbittransit market (254 W. King Street) on Friday afternoons from 3:00pm to 5:30pm.

July Update on the 2018 Growing Season

The 2018 growing season is well underway now, and the list of vegetables we are harvesting and offering for sale at the Mobile Produce Market includes: collard greens, kale, kohlrabi, green beans, okra, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, yellow squash, zucchini, cucumber, green pepper, a variety of other peppers, scallions—green onions, a variety of lettuces and herbs.  Monday will mark the start of the fourth week of the Mobile Produce Market.  Download a copy of the Mobile Market Schedule and find a market stop near you!  The Mobile Produce Market participated at First Friday Latino at the YCEA building last Friday, and we expect to have recao, papalo, calabaza, aji dulce peppers and other ingredients for Latino dishes.  We’ve had lots of volunteers helping at the Farm this spring and summer.

On Monday July 9 a group of WellSpan Emergency Room residents will be volunteering with the Mobile Produce Market at the Byrnes Health Education Center parking lot at 515 S. George Street from 4pm to 6pm.  We hope to see you there.


Can’t wait to plant those vegetables

April will be a busy month at York Fresh Food Farms, especially because the spring weather has been wet and cold and put Farm Manager Bruce Manns back about 2 weeks.  We need to get the broccoli, cabbage, onions and lettuces in the ground as soon as possible.  These plants are getting pretty big in the heated greenhouse.  But the ground can’t be prepared for these cooler weather transplants until the soil is not so wet and the daytime temperatures are little higher.

Work to prepare the high tunnel for 500-600 pepper plants is moving ahead.  Inside the high tunnel it is warmer and dryer.  Landscape cloth will be used for weed control.  Miller Plant Farm is growing most of the pepper plants and they’ll be ready to pick up soon.

The tilling, laying out the rows, laying plastic mulch and drip irrigation tape will all be done with new farm equipment.  The new blue tractor “Boomer” was purchased with a grant from The David H. Hogg Family Foundation, Inc. and a loan from York Traditions Bank, and the new tiller has been made possible with a grant from the City of York – Bureau of Health.  This new equipment is not only better than what the Farm has been able to rent, but Farm Manager, Bruce Manns, will have the flexibility of using the equipment when and as it is needed and save on equipment rental costs.  Thank you to our donors for funding the purchase of this important farm equipment.

Look for York Fresh Food Farms on Saturday, April 21st at Go Green in the City – we’ll be located on the lawn of the Colonial Courthouse at Pershing and West Market Street with tomato, pepper, squash, eggplant and lettuces growing in bags.  We hope to have  the “Boomer” with us as part of our display.  Also on April 21, the Red Lion Rotary will be at the Farm planting 75 asparagus crowns and strawberry plants.  Thank you Red Lion Rotary!

On Thursday, April 26 from 4pm to 7pm York Fresh Food Farms will have a table at the Resource Fair at Wm. Penn HS.  If you are attending please enter at door 15.

York Fresh Food Farms is proud to be participating in Give Local York, York’s annual online giving event.  Please support York Fresh Food Farms at www.givelocalyork.org during the 24 hour giving day on May 4.  The real success of Give Local York will not be how much money is raised but the tremendous impact those dollars will have when participating York County nonprofits put the dollars to work to benefit the community.  To support York Fresh Food Farms’ campaign, go to https://givelocalyork.org//designee/york-fresh-food-farms on May 4.

What urban farmers do in January

I may be cold outside, but farmers are busy in the winter off-season.  At York Fresh Food Farms January means planning for the 2018 growing season.  Farm Manager Bruce Manns, with help from a great, hard-working crew of Amish farmers from Brogue, built a 2500 SF high tunnel at 150 Wills Road.  This year Bruce will grow peppers in the high tunnel first and then fall lettuce.   Bruce is also: doing routine maintenance on the new tractor, completing his plan and schedule for planting, readying the heated greenhouse for growing transplants starting in February, attending the Pennsylvania Vegetable Growers Association three day Mid-Atlantic Fruit and Vegetable Convention and finalizing arrangements to paint and design York Fresh Food Farms’ Mobile Produce Market bus.


Ending the year at York Fresh Food Farms – December 2017

There lots to do to end the farming season.  Good fall weather allowed groups of volunteers – from Columbia Gas and from UNFI – to help build two donated greenhouses and garden boxes that will be used for Get Your Hands Dirty a summer program for kids.

Pop-up Markets at 3 Corner Stores


July 25, 2017.  York Fresh Food Farms will be selling produce at three local corner stores, Lee’s Food Market at 564 N Pershing, Green Food Market at 255 S George and Pak’s Food Market at 750 E Princess, on different days starting August 1.  The stores are all participating in the City of York – Bureau of Health’s “Healthy Corner Store Initiative.”  These markets are stocking York Fresh Food Farms’ produce, and the 2 weeks of markets will promote buying vegetable and eating healthy.

June 22, 2017.  Farm Manager Bruce Manns has been harvesting of lots of lettuce, squash and collards.  The heads of lettuce are beautiful, especially the variety called Red Fire, a loose leaf head that weighs almost 2 pounds.

York Fresh Food Farms’ produce is now available for purchase at three City food markets:

Lee’s Food Market at 564 N Pershing, Green Food Market at 255 S George and Pak’s Food Market at 750 E Princess.

These stores are participating in the City of York – Bureau of Health’s Healthy Corner Store Initiative.  We are also distributing to Family First Health’s clinic on South George and Penn State Extension’s Nutrition Links program.  Watch for our pop-up markets at different locations within the City of York this summer.

Open House

A great open house at York Fresh Food Farms on May 13!

Thank you to donors who supported York Fresh Food Farms’ Open House:  Fox Pool Corporation, Hanover Hospital, Eshbach Mulch Products, Food and Nutrition Services, WellSpan York Hospital, York Suburban School District/Chef Sean Arnold, Nutrition Links at the York Penn State Extension.