Economy & Business
10:14 pm
Mon February 4, 2013

Pittsburgh Launches First Edible Gardens Program

Pittsburgh residents who live a significant distance from grocery stores or farmers' markets are being encouraged to apply to grow fruits and vegetables on a nearby city-owned lot in their neighborhood. Volunteers will work side-by-side with Pittsburgh’s Green Team on vacant properties to create, design and plant produce.

Community garden stewards will be responsible for maintenance, weeding, harvesting and distribution throughout the season.  

Mayor Luke Ravenstahl announced that applications are now available for the spring 2013 Edible Gardens program, an expansion of his Green Up Pittsburgh program and servePGH initiatives.

The new program will engage community volunteers to improve access to healthy foods in 10 to 15 low-income city neighborhoods where fresh produce is scarce. Through the program, volunteers will transform vacant lots into community gardens to grow, maintain and harvest nearly one ton of fresh produce for at least 200 families in its first year.

Spokeswoman Rebecca Delphia says the Edible Gardens program really marries two very important priorities “it’s about healthy living, and it’s about how to revitalize our city by planting gardens.”

She said the administration will be working hand in hand with each community to maintain the gardens.

“We will be working alongside community stewards in each of the neighborhoods to maintain the gardens. We are very fortunate to have the support of the Department of Public Works & Mayor Ravenstahl’s “Green Team” within that to plant the gardens and help to prepare them; but we really are going to be relying on the sweat and the hardwork of the volunteers in our neighborhoods,” Delphia said.

At the One Young World Summit, Ravenstahl joined Jamie Oliver and announced that the city will embrace Jamie's Food Revolution, a national movement to inspire families to cook meals and eat healthier. 

“This program not only fulfills our promise to inspire more families to eat fresh, healthy food, but improves community pride by transforming vacant lots into true neighborhood assets," said Ravenstahl.  "Our residents are amazing volunteers who have worked hard utilizing our ServePGH and Green UP programs to transform vacant lots and mentor young people. I have no doubt that this initiative will be just as embraced by our residents." 

Targeting “food deserts” within city limits, Edible Gardens will spread the importance of healthy diets to neighbors while educating volunteers about how to produce healthy, locally grown produce.

Applications are required, and those received by February 22 will be given priority; however, completed applications will be accepted throughout the growing season.  Application approval and an orientation will be required prior to planting.  The first gardens will be planted in March and April.