Senior residents from Catholic Housing and Community Services of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s (CHCS) Saint John Neumann Place II (SJNPII) recently received a boost thanks to new 80-square-foot community garden. Funding for the community garden was made possible by a “garden grant” from the Community Food Program operated by Nutritional Development Services of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia (NDS).

The community garden will provide senior residents with opportunities for socialization, recreation, and education in addition to SJNPII’s broad array of existing program offerings and partnerships. The garden will also increase access to fresh, wholesome, and nourishing produce.

Mr. Edwin Rupert, Director of SJNPII’s Wellness Center said, “We hope to encourage our residents to engage in the whole lifecycle of food from soil, to produce, to kitchen, to table. There’s something very grounding about eating what we grow and health and wellness can be promoted at every step along the way.”

The community garden is the latest asset to SJNPII, which is one of four CHCS senior housing communities that allows residents to remain active in their communities while enjoying comfortable, affordable apartment living. The building consists of 52 one-bedroom apartment units and a Wellness Center on a parcel of land adjacent to Saint John Neumann Place, which has been in operation since 2008 and represents the successful conversion of the former Saint John Neumann Catholic High School into 75 units of affordable senior housing.

Ms. Brooke Mullen, MS, RDN, LDN, Assistant Director of Community Relations for NDS said, “A garden is a wonderful addition to a community, especially for seniors. In addition to offering a variety of fresh produce for the community, we find that our garden grants cultivate fellowship, friendship and connects people across cultures, socioeconomic status, language and background. We are thrilled that Saint John Neumann Place II has an opportunity to add this service to their array of existing programs!”

In early May, residents and staff of SJNPII intensively planted the raised bed with nourishing produce including tomatoes, basil, cucumber, peppers, collard and Swiss-chard greens, and eggplant. Using only organically-approved materials, the garden has grown and produced over 40 pounds of produce which was distributed to residents throughout June and July. In mid-August, the plot will be planted with cool-weather species with plans to harvest in October and November.

# # #

Editor’s Notes: CHCS is a leading provider of senior living services throughout the Philadelphia region. Dedicated staff are committed to providing the best quality support for seniors and their loved ones through senior programs. Programs include senior housing, senior centers, older adult care management, in-home support programs, elder care helpline, and senior clubs. To learn more about Catholic Housing and Community Services, please visit…

For over forty-five years, NDS’ mission has been to serve children and those in need with healthy food and food-related resources. NDS accomplishes its mission in two distinct ways: by administering the federally-funded child nutrition programs and through the privately supported Community Food Program. To learn more about NDS, please visit