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An Urban Grower’s Guide: Selling the Food You Grow in Pittsburgh


The goal of the guide is to encourage city residents to grow and sell produce by providing resources that explain the relevant rules and regulations.

By Grow Pittsburgh, Penn State Extension, and Pittsburgh Food Policy Council
April 2016


Writing a Business Plan

Writing a business plan can be a long process, but these resources will help you out:

Penn State Extension provides many resources from an agriculture perspective. Visit the Creating a Business Plan page, or Start Farming, which is a comprehensive resource hub that covers the entire scope of production, business and state/federal regulations for those new to growing for profit.

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April 26, 2016   No Comments

Pittsburgh’s St. Clair neighborhood to get an urban farm and new housing

The Hilltop Alliance Hilltop Farm Master Plan.

“This is really going to be a public community garden for the broader community.”

By Ashley Murray
Pittsburgh City Paper
Feb 3, 206


The farming portion will include 16 quarter-acre plots for farmer incubation.

“It’s a big issue that people who want to start farming, the cost of doing so is so high and very prohibitive,” said Baxendell.

There will be 60 community gardening plots, as well as bigger lots for larger crops, such as corn. All spaces will require applications from community members. An orchard of 176 fruit trees is planned for the site. Gardeners can sell their produce at a year-round farmer’s market; an on-site community-supported-agriculture (CSA) farm would also sell goods.

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February 9, 2016   Comments Off on Pittsburgh’s St. Clair neighborhood to get an urban farm and new housing

Steel City Grazers, Pittsburgh’s only goat-grazing business

Carrie Pavlik smiles at Lovesong. She and Doug Placais own and operate Arlington Acres as well as Steel City Grazers, the city’s only goat-grazing business. Margaret J. Krauss 90.5 WESA

“There (are) acres and acres and acres and acres in Pittsburgh that are going unused and are completely overgrown, and that’s land that potentially enterprising people could take and turn into productive farmland,” he said.

By Margaret J. Krauss
90.5 WESA
Sept 11, 2015


It turns out not even a goat pregnancy test can surprise the UPS man, said Placais. It’s just one of the many discoveries the two have made while running their farm. Pavlik and Placais also own Steel City Grazers, Pittsburgh’s only goat-grazing business. Think of it as an all-goat landscaping crew. With a guardian donkey.

“I believe we’re the only people with goats in the city although I’ve heard, like, fifth-hand that somebody might have a goat. But as somebody else pointed out, it might just be back to us,” he said.

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September 20, 2015   Comments Off on Steel City Grazers, Pittsburgh’s only goat-grazing business

Pittsburgh urban farming takes ‘big step forward’ with new ordinance

Goats are released on a hillside in Polish Hill to eat brush and vines not easily cut back by other means. Photo Darrell Sapp/Post-Gazette.

Mayor Bill Peduto will sign the bill in the coming days, spokesman Tim McNulty said.

By Molly Born
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
July 8, 2015


Pittsburgh City Council passed an ordinance Tuesday making it cheaper and easier for residents to get permits to raise chickens and goats and keep beehives.

The ordinance replaces a 2011 urban agriculture zoning law that charged city residents fees totaling $340 and required a hearing process that could take 10 to 12 weeks. Now, homeowners and renters can bring a site plan detailing a desired coop, apiary or other animal structure and get a permit in a single day for $70.

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July 8, 2015   Comments Off on Pittsburgh urban farming takes ‘big step forward’ with new ordinance

Pittsburgh law students tackle urban agriculture and food policy issues

Jaclyn Clifford and Marlene van Es will soon be graduating from the University of Pittsburgh Law school and are starting a firm for legal aid to entrepreneurs who want to start environmental oriented businesses in the city.Photo by Robin Rombach/Post-Gazette.

By Diana Nelson Jones
Pittsburgh Post_Gazette
March 26, 2015


“Jackie and I said, ‘This is what we’re passionate about and there’s a lack of legal services in this area,’” said Ms. van Es, a New York native with a degree in agriculture from Cornell University.

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April 6, 2015   Comments Off on Pittsburgh law students tackle urban agriculture and food policy issues

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

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 on Urban flower farms gain momentum in Pittsburgh

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

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 on Pittsburgh’s urban farms a growing business

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

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 on Map of Pittsburgh Community Food Gardens

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 on Urban Farming Takes Hold in Pittsburgh at Healcrest Urban Farm

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 on Pittsburgh neighborhoods May Grow More Healthy From Urban Farming

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 on City of Pittsburgh establishes rules for urban farms

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