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How TD plants seeds to help ‘Sustainable Communities’ grow
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How TD plants seeds to help ‘Sustainable Communities’ grow

The SustainPHL TD Bank Sustainable Communities Award 2022 highlighted several organizations giving back. Here’s the backstory.

Sustainability isn’t possible with a handful of people or many businesses. Building a sustainable ecosystem requires cooperation between individuals, civic organizations, non-profits, and businesses.

SustainPHL, Green Philly’s annual awards, and celebration, highlights how each of these entities plays a role in a sustainable city. The TD Bank Sustainable Communities Award 2022 showcased this ethos with partnerships with local organizations including TreePhilly, Sanctuary Farm, and SustainPHL.

TreePhilly: Growing community ties

TreePhilly adds thousands of trees in city parks and provides free trees to residents each year. This program not only helps cool the city and combat climate change but also improves residents’ health and well-being while lowering inequities. Despite the city’s street canopy being only about 20% citywide, wealthier neighborhoods enjoy more green spaces and shade. Philadelphia aims to increase the tree canopy by at least 30% in every neighborhood by 2025, potentially saving up to 400 lives each year due to the mental health, social interaction, and physical activity that free spaces and parks provide.

Corporate sponsorships are essential to help TreePhilly not only succeed but also continue to grow. TD Bank has supported the TreePhilly initiative since 2016, as part of its goal to plant a million new trees by 2030 in North America. With a $1.125 million donation, TD Bank helped the program expand in 2018 by funding natural lands restoration work, strategic planning, street tree planting, and the yard tree program.

Amy Derstine, Vice President and Community Relationship Manager of TD Bank, values the feeling of community. During her twelve-year TD career, she found that sense of community both in her corporate role and through volunteering.

Specifically, Derstine feels fulfilled by TD’s support of programs like TreePhilly and the partnership with the Fairmount Park Conservancy. Working for a company that gives back spreads goodwill to employees and the communities they serve, making it a win-win situation. As Derstine explained, “It feels good to be giving back to people in the communities where we’re living and working and doing something that can hopefully brighten their day.”

Derstine recently joined the Fairmount Park Conservancy Board, where she volunteers with tree planting efforts, like an effort in November that added 30 trees to one neighborhood.

Amy Derstine
Amy Derstine, Vice President and Community Relationship Manager of TD Bank, presents the SustainPHL TD Bank Sustainable Communities Award on October 20, 2022.

As a mother, she also considers the future and what we’re leaving for the next generation. “Like any parent, it really shifts your focus from ‘what’s in it for me’ to ‘what’s going to be left for them?’ I want to make sure that there are safe green spaces for her and her generation.” As Derstine described, “I became pretty passionate about creating and maintaining sustainable spaces.”

Partnerships both internally and externally are examples of how TD Bank supports local communities. The TD Bank Sustainable Communities Award reflects the company’s TD Ready Commitment, blending both their goals for connected communities and a vibrant planet, along with financial security and better health.

In 2022, the TD Bank Sustainable Communities SustainPHL category recognized three nominees that provide communities with equitable and clean resources: Circular Philadelphia, PAR Recycle Works, and Sanctuary Farms.

The SustainPHL TD Bank Sustainable Communities Award 2022 was presented to Sanctuary Farm Philadelphia, an urban farm and farmer’s market in the Sharswood neighborhood of North Philadelphia.

Sanctuary Farm
SustainPHL TD Bank Sustainable Communities award recipients Sanctuary Farm

How Sanctuary Farm nourishes its local community

Andrea Vettori, Founder, and Executive created Sanctuary Farm after becoming frustrated with treating patients who lacked access to healthy food. The farm was established on previously abandoned lots to improve the health of North Philadelphians, many of whom often live in food deserts where affordable, nutritious food is scarce. Since its inception in 2017, Sanctuary Farm has harvested over 17,300 pounds of fresh produce and has distributed it to more than 700 families in the local community free of charge. Every week, families are provided with not only food but also nutritional education to promote healthy eating habits.

Derstine expressed the importance of supporting and recognizing organizations like Sanctuary Farm, which are committed to giving back to their communities. “TD Bank has its own sustainability initiatives, and it’s great to support and recognize organizations like Sanctuary Farm to help sustain what they’re doing, said Derstine.”

As Derstine explained, sharing stories from organizations that are transforming their communities is equally as vital. “Organizations like Sanctuary Farm are the heartbeat of what sustainability is about. It’s not about doing something one time, but building a lasting impact through the community.”

Cover photo: Sanctuary Farm on Facebook

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Julie Hancher is Editor-in-Chief of Green Philly, sharing her expertise of all things sustainable in the city of brotherly love. She enjoys long walks in the park with local beer and greening her travels, cooking & cat, Sir Floofus Drake. View all posts by Julie Hancher
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