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Pittsburgh’s urban farms a growing business

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Hannah Reiff, production manager at Garden Dreams, moves seedlings around in the basement of the apartment building where the plants begin their life. The heat from the pipes warms the basement for the plants. By Robin Rombach/Post-Gazette.

Empty lots that once held neglected homes are turned into fertile ground for planting

By Ann Belser
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
May 3, 2014

Excerpt:

“I realized that with selling seedlings, I could make this enterprise viable,” she said. She started a business selling those seedlings in 2001.

This year, 45,000 to 50,000 seedlings are coming through Ms. Schwartz’s urban farm, called Garden Dreams Urban Farm and Nursery. The plants are sold on site, at the East End Food Co-op and at Whole Foods. The farm is staffed by two full-time farmers and a seasonal worker on land that once held two dilapidated houses. Ms. Schwartz owns a third, boarded-up brick building that is next door, and is considering turning it into a sort of urban barn, she said.

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May 9, 2014   Comments Off

Grow Pittsburgh: “Municipal policies are limiting the burgeoning urban farm movement.”

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A Growing City: Removing the Barriers to Growing Food in Pittsburgh

Julie Butcher Pezzino
Executive Director, Grow Pittsburgh
March 2014

Excerpt:

Taking A Step Forward

To take a more proactive approach to this issue, in 2013 Grow Pittsburgh adopted an organizational strategic plan that included advocacy and policy as a priority. We began to formally collect feedback from our fellow stakeholders in the city’s urban growing scene. Our first step was distributing the Urban Grower Survey, a lengthy question- naire that yielded 248 responses from people growing food throughout the region, and a wealth of data about their activities, motivations and frustrations. We also conducted follow-up focus groups with urban farmers and backyard gardeners.

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April 7, 2014   Comments Off

Map of Pittsburgh Community Food Gardens

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Active Community Food Gardens in Allegheny County

From Batchgeo.com

Excerpts:

Sheptytsky Arms Community Garden
3505 Mexico St., Pittsburgh, PA, 15214
Zoom
Neighborhood: Brighton Heights
Community/Individual growing: Community Farm: land gardened collectively by people for personal use, donation or sale
Fee: n/a
Space Available?: No
Restrictions?: for residents
Contact Person: Char
Contact Details: —

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February 2, 2014   Comments Off

Urban Farming Takes Hold in Pittsburgh at Healcrest Urban Farm

Established in 2005, Healcrest started as 15 abandoned and delinquent city lots.

By OurRegionsBusiness
Nov. 2012

“Successful farming can no doubt be difficult in any location, but how about in the heart of the city of Pittsburgh? With a background in community development, Maria Graziana set out to answer this question after acquiring nearly two acres of land in the city’s Garfield neighborhood. Graziana discusses the idea behind farm, which sits on the site of several abandoned home lots.” Video caption.

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December 2, 2012   Comments Off

Pittsburgh neighborhoods May Grow More Healthy From Urban Farming


Keith Bey speaks at an urban farming workshop at the Homewood branch of Carnegie Library Saturday. Photo by Tony Tye.

16,000-plus vacant lots in Pittsburgh – 15 percent of usable land

By Alex Ferreras
Post Gazette
February 29, 2012

Excerpt:

Ms. Boyd said she is driven to provide food for Homewood and motivated by the role agriculture has played in the past.

“African-Americans have a culture of farming,” she said. “But we are more dependent on the government than ever, and Homewood doesn’t have a place to buy food. I recommend that we as urban blacks return to farming. We need to reconnect to the land and seek the help of our elders to teach and advise and get the younger generations to listen and be teachable.

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March 1, 2012   Comments Off

City of Pittsburgh establishes rules for urban farms


Steve Rapasky, director of the Burgh Bees community apiary on Susequanna Street, poses for a portrait inside the apiary Monday. Rapasky lives in Dormont. Photo by Michael Henninger/Post-Gazette.

Horses and pigs are not considered pets under the city code. Under the new rules, a person with under 3 acres must seek special permission to have either animal.

By Joe Smydo
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
February 08, 2011

Excerpt:

The city of Pittsburgh has new regulations for the increasingly popular practice of urban agriculture, such as the raising of honeybees and chickens, but time will tell whether the rules are the bee’s knees or something to squawk about.

Council approved the guidelines last week. Mayor Luke Ravenstahl’s office had proposed most of the changes to complement other greening initiatives — and to make sure people and animals peacefully co-exist in city neighborhoods.

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February 8, 2011   Comments Off

Pittsburgh city agriculture rules advance

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Ceasia Williams, 14, left, and Jayda Harden, 14, water newly planted seedlings in a raised bed for the Lots of Hope gardening project at The Pittsburgh Project on the North Side. Photo by Rebecca Droke/Post-Gazette.

“It helps people to have clarity about what’s allowed and what isn’t.”

By Rick Wills
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
September 1, 2010

Excerpt:

Pittsburgh’s Planning Commission gave its final approval to legislation that would regulate small-scale, urban agriculture.

The proposed legislation, which goes to City Council for action, applies to honeybees, poultry and community gardens, for which no permitting has been required. The commission passed the proposal 6-1, with Commissioner Monte Rabner voting against.

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September 1, 2010   1 Comment

Cities, including Pittsburgh, are turning green with urban farms

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Jaymon McGhee, 13, plants mustard greens in a raised bed as part of the Lots of Hope gardening project. Photo by Rebecca Droke/Post-Gazette

“These are exciting times”

By Diana Nelson Jones
July 08, 2010
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Excerpt:

The urban farm — a novel, even whimsical, idea a few years ago in Pittsburgh — is now a movement so fully fledged that a neighborhood without one seems almost an anomaly.

Nationally, the movement is profuse, with seeds in the 1980s when foodies sprouted and gourmet eating went mainstream. The roots of several movements have intertwined since: urban enterprise farms, urban farms for educating children, community gardens, vacant lot greening, soil remediation of industrial landscapes, community supported agriculture, backyard chickens and bee hives, consumers who buy into livestock with farmers and grocery chains selling local produce.

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July 8, 2010   Comments Off

Pittsburgh ordinance changes bother keepers of bees, chickens

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Ordinance changes bother keepers of bees, chickens

By Diana Nelson Jones
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
February 08, 2010

Proposed changes to the city ordinance dealing with the keeping of agricultural animals on city properties has agitated bee and chicken keepers.

Burgh Bees, a 375-member nonprofit, has put out a “call to action” via e-mail for attendance at a public hearing before the city planning commission at 2 p.m. Feb. 16 “to show how many beekeepers and beekeeper supporters there are” in the city. The hearing is at 200 Ross St., Downtown.

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February 8, 2010   Comments Off

Urban farms sprouting in western Pennsylvania

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Mindy Schwartz operates her urban farm, Garden Dreams Urban Farm and Nursery, on land in Wilkinsburg, just outside Pittsburgh, that once held two dilapidated houses. Photo by Robin Rombach.

Gardens are being planted on vacant land where houses once stood.

By Ann Belser
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
May 26, 2014

Excerpt:

After buying and moving into a three-unit apartment house in 1994, Schwartz, 49, built raised garden beds and began growing produce — more than she could eat. So she sold some of her vegetables to local restaurants.

In the spring, she set up a rack in her basement near the warm steam boiler, and hooked grow lights to shelving.
“Next thing you know, I have hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of seedlings,” she said.

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June 8, 2014   Comments Off

Finding Hope in Urban Farming – Fellowship student documents farms

For two months and traveling 10,000 miles, Carlsen discovered much about urban farming

Brooklyn College
Feb. 16, 2012

Excerpt:

Carlsen’s original intent was to visit nine farms and to spend time working alongside the farmers. He also wanted to talk to activists, organizers and community members to get a better understanding of best practices and the effect farms have had on local residents and urban development. Carlsen’s journey led him to a deeper truth about his subject. Nothing, especially this project, would be as simple as thrusting a shovel into the ground and sowing some seeds.

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February 17, 2012   Comments Off

Wall Street Journal – Cooped Up: Chickens Come Home to Roost for Urbanites With a Yen for Hen


Jody Noble-Choder holds Attila-the-Hen outside her coop in Pittsburgh. Photo by Kris Maher/The Wall Street Journal

As Hobbyists Feather Own Nests, City Dwellers Flock to Tour Backyard Henhouses

By Kris Maher
Wall Street Journal
Aug 2, 2011

Excerpt:

“Some chicken people are coming out of the closet,” said Ms. Noble-Choder, a corporate lawyer who organized this summer’s first Chicks-in-the-Hood Pittsburgh Urban Chicken Coop Tour. She paid $1,200 for her coop, which has heated roosts and an automated door opener, but many coops are humble do-it-yourself affairs requiring little more than a few two-by-fours, some chicken wire and straw. Seven families displayed their coops, and adults paid $5 each to go on the self-guided tour. Between ticket and T-shirt sales, the fledgling group took in more than $1,800, which it donated to a food bank.

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August 4, 2011   Comments Off

Levi Strauss and Co. film urban farm in Braddock, Pennsylvania


In 2010, Levi Strauss and Co. began a collaboration in Braddock, Pennsylvania, a broken town struggling to reinvent itself. As part of this collaboration, Levi Strauss and Co. invested in Braddock’s community center, public library, and urban farm. The result is a campaign that tells the story of the people of Braddock.

A vacant lot, an opportunity – We Are All Workers: Episode 7 Urban Farm

As an urban farmer, Marshall envisions Braddock’s empty lots as opportunities to create a stronger, healthier community. Amidst the closed steel mills and abandoned homes, the Urban Farm brings affordable, organic produce that’s “as local as you can get” to the dinner tables of Braddock’s homes. Brought to you by Levi’s in partnership with IFC and Sundance Channel.

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September 12, 2010   3 Comments

How urban agriculture is changing our relationship with food – for good

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Novella Carpenter turned her backyard in Oakland, California into a small farm to feed herself. Now she’s selling produce and trying to make a small profit. Photo by Mark Richards

Taking root in the city

Casey Miner
Ode Magazine
July/August 2010 issue

Excerpt:

If the ’60s was the decade when back-to-the-landers fled cities for farms, the ’10s is the decade when they—or, more likely, their offspring—are coming back. There is no official count of how many urban farms exist in America, but agricultural entities like the Bells’ have counterparts across the country. Urban farmers work in Houston, Dayton, Chicago, Milwaukee, New York, Oakland, San Francisco, Detroit, Portland, Kansas City, Pittsburgh, Los Angeles and Seattle, to name just a few. Location matters, and the farms’ business models are different, but they have two things in common: They are committed to feeding their communities with fresh, sustainable food, and they insist on establishing themselves as normal features of city life.

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September 3, 2010   Comments Off

Let Them Eat Kale – Boston Society of Architects

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The growing interest in urban agriculture means we need to think about the city in a whole new way.

By Dorothée Imbert
Architecture Boston
Published by the Boston Society of Architects
Vol 13 No 3
August 4, 2010

Dorothée Imbert is the chair of the Master in Landscape Architecture program at the Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts at Washington University. She is the author of Between Garden and City: Jean Canneel-Claes and Landscape Modernism (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2010)

Excerpt:

The contemporary enthusiasm for urban agriculture presents a paradox: zoning regulation, olfactory and sound control, and moral opprobrium have erased almost all traces of food production within most Western cities. This contradiction reveals the difficulty of integrating agriculture into urban systems and the need for landscape architects, planners, and community activists to tackle policy. The perception of urban agriculture as a temporary land use for disenfranchised inner-city populations is also likely to hinder its potential to form a new type of open space.

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August 9, 2010   Comments Off