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South Camden: An Earthy and Practical Response


A Camden resident works in a garden maintained by the Center for Environmental Transformation.

While people are waiting in lines to get into supermarkets and waiting curbside for restaurant orders, the Center for Environmental Transformation (CFET) is helping more people in South Camden grow their own food.

It is also looking to hire neighborhood youngsters, recognizing they may be providing the only income for their families at this time.

An environmentally conscious association, CFET was established by parishioners of Sacred Heart Parish in Camden and it maintains close ties with the church. Msgr. Michael Doyle, pastor, is on the board of trustees.  In addition to annual Earth Day celebrations, advocacy efforts and education programs, CFET sponsors an urban gardening initiative.

CFET manages about a half acre of growing space at four locations in the neighborhood that produce more than 2,000 pounds of fresh chemical-free fruits and vegetables for a summer farm market and thousands of seedlings for a spring seedling sale. CFET also offers community garden plots to interested neighbors.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, CFET is expanding its food production, recognizing that increasing numbers of families are experiencing food insecurity. It is also providing seeds, seedlings, and produce free or at minimal cost to local families.

Moreover, CFET is hiring young people who have completed its summer job training, and offering additional growing plots to some families.

“Some of us are quite blessed to have income still coming in, to have food on our tables, and to be safe and secure. This is the time to ensure that the most vulnerable among us have healthy food on their tables, especially the children of this ‘city invincible,’” said Mark Doorley, chair of the board.

For information about the Center for Environmental Transformation, go to


Carl Peters is managing editor of the Catholic Star Herald.