Even if you aren't a community gardener, you can help City Harvest, says Claire Baker of Philadelphia Green, which runs the prison-gardening program. It can always use gardening books and tools, fruit and vegetable seeds, mature perennials or trees and, of course, donations.

And while the 32 community gardens that participate in City Harvest constitute a manageable number, Baker says others are welcome to participate.

You're probably thinking you have enough to do with your own little plot. But this is easier than it sounds. Most community gardens designate one or more raised beds for City Harvest, and as few as two gardeners often handle the planting, harvesting and delivery to a food cupboard.

"It was a joy to do that plot and our own," says Vinton Deming, a retired magazine editor.

These five gardeners grew 237 pounds of fresh vegetables last year for City Harvest, whose goals - fresh food and fitness - are dear to Nilsen.

He rarely drives his car or buys canned goods. He eats mostly fresh fish and veggies and often walks from his home in Powelton Village to shop at Reading Terminal Market at 12th and Market Streets.

As for getting home with all those packages, he says, "I take the trolley."

- Virginia A. Smith