Skip to main content

Growing Communities through Community Gardening

Jun 01, 2017 02:24PM, Published by Beth Gavaghan, Categories: Home+Garden, Advertisers, Today


NHCO Garden volunteer


Gallery: Community Gardening [9 Images] Click any image to expand.



Community gardens offer much more than the opportunity to grow produce. They help build a sense of community, create attractive green space, and provide outlets for service and education.

Madison Nestor has been organizing the Food City Community Garden at Tripoli and Chesnut streets in the North Side neighborhoods of Spring Garden and East Deutschtown for the past two years.

“It’s located in an area of our community that has been changing a lot and continues to change,” Nestor said. “Because of the garden, this area has turned into a town square of sorts. Tending the garden, keeping it looking nice and keeping people engaged has helped. It fuels the initiative to turn the space into a community square.”

The garden began as an educational endeavor of The Children’s Museum and was known as the Food City Fellows. The end goal was to ultimately transfer control of the quarter-acre property to the community, which occurred three years ago, Nestor said.

Because of the museum’s focus on soil remediation, the ground is safe for planting. As a result, Food City does not have many raised beds, which are common in city gardens because of contaminated runoff. The two raised beds it does maintain were installed just this spring with the aid of a grant and were specifically designed to be handicapped accessible. The group also added a new decorative wooden entrance.

“We’re building on what the museum has done with the property,” Nestor said.

Food City’s plots are designed for personal use, with 30 plots of various shapes and sizes renting for $10 a growing season. Like Nestor, most of its gardeners live in the North Side. Because many are renters and tend to be transient, about half return each year. The garden also contains four or five beds that are open to the community to plant and harvest. They are marked with signs reading, “Community bed—pick me.”

“It is a good place for someone who’s new to gardening because they don’t have to buy tools, so the expense is minimal,” Nestor said. She noted that there is a tool shed on the property and the garden receives plenty of donated supplies.

People plant mostly vegetables—tomatoes, peppers, corn, zucchini, beans and herbs. Some perennials from the museum’s tenure also grow in each plot, Nestor added, including various berries.

Interested gardeners can connect with Food City at www.facebook.com/foodcitypgh.

Community service is key to the Rosalinda Sauro Sirianni Garden on Davis Avenue in Bellevue. Owned and operated by North Hills Community Outreach (NHCO), its produce is directed entirely to the organization’s three food pantries: Allison Park, North Boroughs (Bellevue) and Millvale.

“We try to grow vegetables that are in demand by the food pantries,” said Alyssa Crawford, NHCO garden and youth coordinator, adding that spring crops of radishes, beets, lettuce, kale and asparagus give way to summer crops of eggplant, cucumbers, zucchini and tomatoes.

The community garden is almost an acre in size and features a bee house, a high tunnel to extend the cold weather growing season, a 25-tree fruit orchard, a children’s garden and strawberry patch. Eagle Scouts installed compost bins, an information kiosk, a produce washing area and picnic tables.

Founded in 2011, the garden is named for the mother of an NHCO supporter who donated the land. Sauro Sirianni had been an Italian immigrant who lived across the street and had gardened there.

“We have a wonderful base of support—community members who care about the work we do,” said Crawford. Last year, 194 volunteers worked 1,181 hours at the site, harvesting 4,500 pounds of organic produce for 1,400 families. 

Drop-in gardening hours are Monday and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Groups of more than five people are asked to contact Crawford to arrange a time and date to volunteer. She noted that the garden has so many volunteers because organizations such as Girl Scout and Boy Scout troops, youth groups and corporate teams visit on a one-time basis. 

“We ask that volunteers wear closed-toed shoes and clothes they don’t mind getting dirty,” Crawford said. “We supply the rest—the tools, gloves and instructions.”

Education is a large component of the garden’s mission. Volunteers learn onsite, and in the cooler months Crawford often visits groups to make presentations.

While Crawford is the garden’s only full-time employee, last summer and this summer, NHCO received a grant to employ two high school students part-time as youth leaders, giving them hands-on experience with sustainability, organic food production, leadership and food insecurity issues.

To learn more about the garden, visit www.nhcogardens.squarespace.com.

The Garden of Etna at the corner of Elk Way and Locust Street features a mix of gardening for charity and personal use. Shaler resident Tom Quigley launched the effort to establish the garden as an outreach of Glenshaw Presbyterian Church. The goal was to benefit the Etna food pantry of sister church Calvert Memorial Presbyterian as well as Etna residents.

Support from the community, Etna Borough and a onetime $12,000 grant from the Allegheny County Health Department helped make the garden a reality. It enjoyed its first growing season in 2011.

“Good things always kind of happen at the garden without much prodding,” Quigley said. He mentioned that a South Hills garden center contributed vegetable plants its first growing season, a pavilion was built as an Eagle Scout project in 2014, and last fall a man replaced shingles on the tool shed free of charge. One gardener has also taken it upon himself to water the entire garden every day.  

The community garden contains 17 4 x 10-foot raised beds that residents can reserve free of charge. It also has four 4 x 20-foot raised beds, the produce of which is dedicated to Bread of Life Food Pantry at Calvert Memorial and the food bank at Etna’s All Saints Catholic Church. Last year, about 300 pounds of produce was harvested for the food pantries.

The Garden of Etna also benefits from its association with Shaler Area High School. Students in the gifted program start plants from seed in the school’s greenhouse and transfer them to the food bank plots every spring. The high school provides cold weather plants such as lettuce, peas and broccoli in early April, followed by summer crops like tomatoes, beans and eggplant.

“Sometimes when I’m at the garden, it amazes me,” Quigley said. “It’s a beautiful spot that’s the result of a lot of hard work by a lot of people.”

Shaler resident and garden volunteer Sherry Jones helps tend the food bank plots and delivers produce. She noted that University of Pittsburgh students put straw over the gardens at the end of the last growing season.

“I like to garden and love that it provides needy people with the freshest produce,” Jones said.

For more information, visit www.etnalive.org/index.php/gardens/community-garden.

The Pittsburgh area is fortunate to be home to many community gardens, giving residents the opportunity to grow their own crops, connect with neighbors, learn and serve others. For more information on community gardens and how to start one, visit www.growpittsburgh.org.



  • Butterfly Forest

    08/23/2017
    09:30AM — 05:00PM

    In celebration of Earth Day, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens’ Butterfly Forest opens on...


  • Parkinson's Support Group

    08/23/2017
    01:00PM — 02:30PM

    Date: Last Wednesday of each month Time: 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Location: HealthSouth Harmarvil...


  • Alzheimer's Caregiver Support Group

    08/23/2017
    05:30PM — 06:30PM

    Are you caring for an aging parent or loved one with Dementia and looking for a monthly support g...


  • General Cancer Support Group

    08/23/2017
    06:30PM — 08:00PM

    General support for cancer patients and caregivers over 18. No students please.


  • Butterfly Forest

    08/24/2017
    09:30AM — 05:00PM

    In celebration of Earth Day, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens’ Butterfly Forest opens on...


  • Butterfly Forest

    08/25/2017
    09:30AM — 05:00PM

    In celebration of Earth Day, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens’ Butterfly Forest opens on...


  • Butterfly Forest

    08/26/2017
    09:30AM — 05:00PM

    In celebration of Earth Day, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens’ Butterfly Forest opens on...


  • PA Polio Survivors Network

    08/26/2017
    10:30AM — 12:30PM

    An interactive web conference titled Post-Polio Care: Past, Present and Future. To register cont...


  • Cindystock 14

    08/26/2017
    04:00PM — 10:00PM

    An outdoor music festival and picnic benefiting 7 local cancer charities at a private home in Wex...


  • Bluegrass Night

    08/26/2017
    06:30PM — 09:30PM

    The Jakob's Ferry Stragglers - Headlining Act The Jakob’s Ferry Stragglers draw freely from old-...


  • Butterfly Forest

    08/28/2017
    09:30AM — 05:00PM

    In celebration of Earth Day, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens’ Butterfly Forest opens on...


  • Cranberry High Noon Toastmasters

    08/28/2017
    12:00PM — 01:00PM

    Toastmasters International is a world leader in communication and leadership development. Become ...


  • Western PA Professional Business Association

    08/29/2017
    07:30AM — 08:30AM

    As one of the premier Pittsburgh Networking Groups, the mission of the Western Pennsylvania Profe...


  • Butterfly Forest

    08/29/2017
    09:30AM — 05:00PM

    In celebration of Earth Day, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens’ Butterfly Forest opens on...


  • Butterfly Forest

    08/23/2017
    09:30AM — 05:00PM

    In celebration of Earth Day, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens’ Butterfly Forest opens on...


  • Parkinson's Support Group

    08/23/2017
    01:00PM — 02:30PM

    Date: Last Wednesday of each month Time: 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Location: HealthSouth Harmarvil...


  • Alzheimer's Caregiver Support Group

    08/23/2017
    05:30PM — 06:30PM

    Are you caring for an aging parent or loved one with Dementia and looking for a monthly support g...


  • General Cancer Support Group

    08/23/2017
    06:30PM — 08:00PM

    General support for cancer patients and caregivers over 18. No students please.


  • Butterfly Forest

    08/24/2017
    09:30AM — 05:00PM

    In celebration of Earth Day, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens’ Butterfly Forest opens on...


  • Butterfly Forest

    08/25/2017
    09:30AM — 05:00PM

    In celebration of Earth Day, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens’ Butterfly Forest opens on...


  • Butterfly Forest

    08/26/2017
    09:30AM — 05:00PM

    In celebration of Earth Day, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens’ Butterfly Forest opens on...


  • PA Polio Survivors Network

    08/26/2017
    10:30AM — 12:30PM

    An interactive web conference titled Post-Polio Care: Past, Present and Future. To register cont...


  • Cindystock 14

    08/26/2017
    04:00PM — 10:00PM

    An outdoor music festival and picnic benefiting 7 local cancer charities at a private home in Wex...


  • Bluegrass Night

    08/26/2017
    06:30PM — 09:30PM

    The Jakob's Ferry Stragglers - Headlining Act The Jakob’s Ferry Stragglers draw freely from old-...


  • Butterfly Forest

    08/27/2017
    09:30AM — 05:00PM

    In celebration of Earth Day, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens’ Butterfly Forest opens on...


  • Memorial Park Church Family Fall Festival

    08/27/2017
    12:00PM — 02:30PM

    We will be kicking off the year in style, so come and see - there's more to us than meets the eye...


  • Health by ZIP Code: Where you Live Matters

    08/27/2017
    02:30PM — 04:00PM

    Hear from the leading experts on health issues that impact the African-American community and how...


  • Butterfly Forest

    08/28/2017
    09:30AM — 05:00PM

    In celebration of Earth Day, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens’ Butterfly Forest opens on...


  • Cranberry High Noon Toastmasters

    08/28/2017
    12:00PM — 01:00PM

    Toastmasters International is a world leader in communication and leadership development. Become ...


  • Western PA Professional Business Association

    08/29/2017
    07:30AM — 08:30AM

    As one of the premier Pittsburgh Networking Groups, the mission of the Western Pennsylvania Profe...


  • Butterfly Forest

    08/29/2017
    09:30AM — 05:00PM

    In celebration of Earth Day, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens’ Butterfly Forest opens on...


  • Butterfly Forest

    08/30/2017
    09:30AM — 05:00PM

    In celebration of Earth Day, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens’ Butterfly Forest opens on...


  • Parkinson's Support Group

    08/30/2017
    01:00PM — 02:30PM

    Date: Last Wednesday of each month Time: 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Location: HealthSouth Harmarvil...


  • Butterfly Forest

    08/31/2017
    09:30AM — 05:00PM

    In celebration of Earth Day, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens’ Butterfly Forest opens on...


  • Butterfly Forest

    09/01/2017
    09:30AM — 05:00PM

    In celebration of Earth Day, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens’ Butterfly Forest opens on...


  • Butterfly Forest

    09/02/2017
    09:30AM — 05:00PM

    In celebration of Earth Day, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens’ Butterfly Forest opens on...


  • Butterfly Forest

    09/03/2017
    09:30AM — 05:00PM

    In celebration of Earth Day, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens’ Butterfly Forest opens on...


  • Butterfly Forest

    09/04/2017
    09:30AM — 05:00PM

    In celebration of Earth Day, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens’ Butterfly Forest opens on...


  • Cranberry High Noon Toastmasters

    09/04/2017
    12:00PM — 01:00PM

    Toastmasters International is a world leader in communication and leadership development. Become ...


  • Western PA Professional Business Association

    09/05/2017
    07:30AM — 08:30AM

    As one of the premier Pittsburgh Networking Groups, the mission of the Western Pennsylvania Profe...


  • Pastor Chris Hodges at Victory Family Church

    09/06/2017
    07:00PM — 08:30PM

    Join us at Victory Family Church for a special mid-week message as we welcome Pastor Chris Hodges...


  • Cranberry Breast Cancer Support Group

    09/06/2017
    07:00PM — 08:30PM

    Support for breast cancer. Patients only.


  • Metastatic Cancer Support Group

    09/07/2017
    05:00PM — 06:30PM

    UPMC Passavant Hospital-McCandless This group is offered for any cancer patients and survivors...


  • Playlist

    09/09/2017
    06:00PM — 07:30PM

    Is your soundtrack stuck on repeat? Are you just shuffling through your days? This series—full of...


  • Playlist

    09/10/2017
    09:00AM — 10:30AM

    Is your soundtrack stuck on repeat? Are you just shuffling through your days? This series—full of...


  • Playlist

    09/10/2017
    11:00AM — 12:30PM

    Is your soundtrack stuck on repeat? Are you just shuffling through your days? This series—full of...


  • FOX CHAPEL AREA HIGH SCHOOL SPONSORS PRESCHOOL

    09/11/2017
    09:40AM — 10:50AM

    The Family and Consumer Sciences Department at Fox Chapel Area High School will sponsor a prescho...


  • Cranberry High Noon Toastmasters

    09/11/2017
    12:00PM — 01:00PM

    Toastmasters International is a world leader in communication and leadership development. Become ...


  • Western PA Professional Business Association

    09/12/2017
    07:30AM — 08:30AM

    As one of the premier Pittsburgh Networking Groups, the mission of the Western Pennsylvania Profe...


  • As the 19th century ended, people had more money, more free time, and more ways to spend both. K...


  • FOX CHAPEL AREA HIGH SCHOOL SPONSORS PRESCHOOL

    09/12/2017
    09:40AM — 10:50AM

    The Family and Consumer Sciences Department at Fox Chapel Area High School will sponsor a prescho...


  • Date: Second Tuesday of each month Time: 5:30 p.m. Location: HealthSouth Harmarville Contac...


  • Head Injury Support Group

    09/12/2017
    07:00PM — 09:00PM

    Date: Second Tuesday of each month Time: 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Location: HealthSouth Harmarville ...


  • FOX CHAPEL AREA HIGH SCHOOL SPONSORS PRESCHOOL

    09/13/2017
    09:40AM — 10:50AM

    The Family and Consumer Sciences Department at Fox Chapel Area High School will sponsor a prescho...


  • Amputee Support Group

    09/13/2017
    05:30PM — 07:00PM

    Amputee Support Group Date: Second Wednesday of each month Time: 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Locati...


  • General Cancer Support Group

    09/13/2017
    06:30PM — 08:00PM

    General support for cancer patients and caregivers over 18. No students please.


IN THIS ISSUE 

 

 

 

 


COMMUNITY EVENTS

NEW & NOTABLE

LIKE US ON FACEBOOK!

Receive a digital edition of NHM in your inbox every month. Sign up by sending a request to mmfisher@northhillsmonthly.com.