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Steel City Soils provides compost to city gardens in Braddock, Pittsburgh

Dedicated composter Jeff Newman, owner of Steel City Soils, helps build food-growing soils from waste. Photo by Adam Reinherz.

“We need to figure out how to sell product to people running urban farms and community gardens.”

By Adam Reinherz
The Jewish Chronicle
Jan. 7, 2015


Newman began volunteering with Braddock Farms, an urban garden located on the corner of Braddock Avenue and 10th Street. After several years, Newman achieved two realizations: “I wanted to support urban farming,” he said, “and I wanted to help people grow food.”

Newman, a University of Pittsburgh graduate who studied electrical engineering, researched composting, a process of mixing decaying organic substances. He recognized its value and subsequently developed Steel City Soils, LLC.

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January 20, 2015   Comments Off

Urban flower farms gain momentum in Pittsburgh

urbflowGreenSinner owners Jonathan Weber and Jimmy Lohr have their portrait taken inside of their greenhouse in Lawrenceville. Photo by Jasmine Goldband.

Between weddings, events and deliveries, that added up to more than 6,000 stems of cut flowers and foliage in 2014.

By Rachel Weaver
Tuesday, Dec. 30, 2014


A Pittsburgh floral shop is planting seeds for future growth that will transform a vacant city hillside into a thriving garden.

GreenSinner is expanding beyond its Upper Lawrenceville location with a four-acre urban flower farm in Observatory Hill in the North Side.

“There’s something really appealing about being in the city,” says Jonathan Weber, GreenSinner farmer. “There are a lot of places that, because of the landscape, aren’t suited for buildings. This is currently an overgrown hillside. It hasn’t been cultivated in at least 50 years. The soil is pretty rich.”

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January 10, 2015   Comments Off

Pittsburgh group aims to transform vacant parcel of land to include townhouses, urban farming

hilltSee larger image here.

By Tory N. Parrish
Dec. 21, 2014


The Hilltop Alliance wants to turn the vacant, 107-acre parcel into Hilltop Village Farm, which would include 120 for-sale and rental townhouses, as well as an urban farm using about 20 acres for a farm incubator, youth farm and community-supported agriculture farm, or CSA. The Allegheny Land Trust wants to buy the land from the housing authority, and lease some of it for farming and protect about 60 acres of steep hillside.

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January 6, 2015   Comments Off

Pittsburgh’s urban farms a growing business

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


“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.”


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

Julie Butcher Pezzino
Executive Director, Grow Pittsburgh
March 2014


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


Active Community Food Gardens in Allegheny County



Sheptytsky Arms Community Garden
3505 Mexico St., Pittsburgh, PA, 15214
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


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


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

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


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

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


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

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

Film: Portrait of an Urban Beekeeper

Portrait of an Urban Beekeeper from Steve Ellington on Vimeo.

A short documentary that follows the life of an urban beekeeper in Pittsburgh, PA.

Directed by Steve Ellington
Featuring Steve Repasky
(Must see. Mike.)

Excerpt from Meadow Sweet Apiaries:

Stephen Repasky – EAS Master Beekeeper, Author and Consultant

Stephen Repasky is a second generation beekeeper living in Pittsburgh, Pa. He is a Certified Master Beekeeper through the Eastern Apicultural Society and also the current President for Burgh Bees, Pittsburgh’s Urban Beekeeping Organization as well as the 2nd Vice-President for the Pennsylvania State Beekeepers Association and sits on the Board of Directors for the American Beekeeping Federation. As Stephen began getting more involved with honey bees in the Pittsburgh area and beyond, the number of colonies also grew and the need for a formal name arose. Meadow Sweet Apiaries, was then established as the popularity of his honey, removal services and educational presentations grew.

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February 25, 2015   No Comments

Proposed urban farm at the city’s former St. Clair Village public housing site in Pittsbugh

greenClick on image for larger file.

One day be one of the coun­try’s larg­est ur­ban farms

By Diana Nelson Jones
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
July 14, 2014


The Hill­top Al­liance is work­ing with Grow Pitts­burgh, the Penn State Co­op­er­a­tive Ex­ten­sion and the Al­le­gheny Land Trust to make that hap­pen. The al­li­ance is a non­profit um­brella whose staff or­ga­nizes proj­ects with ad­vo­cates from or­ga­ni­za­tions in nine south­ern neigh­bor­hoods.

The St. Clair Vil­lage pub­lic hous­ing site, which con­tained 465 units at its peak, was fully de­mol­ished by 2010. What’s left of the neigh­bor­hood — 209 peo­ple in pri­vately owned homes — needs ev­ery­thing a farm would pro­vide: fresh food, a chance for en­ter­prise, and youth train­ing and ed­u­ca­tion.

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July 24, 2014   Comments Off

Urban farms sprouting in western Pennsylvania

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


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