Urban Farming Initiative To Provide Long-Term Security For Local Green Spaces

Aug 23, 2017

In a new venture, nonprofits Grow Pittsburgh and the Allegheny Land Trust are teaming up to preserve the city's urban farms. The Three Rivers Agricultural Land Initiative will give long-term support to select a handful of garden projects in the community.

The Three Rivers Agricultural Land Initiative will buy the land of existing projects, which will be chosen by a committee consisting of members of Grow Pittsburgh, the Allegheny Land Trust and the community. Allegheny Land Trust President and CEO Chris Beichner said this step will ensure the land will be protected from future developments.

"There's no formal land agreement in many of these cases, and at any time the developer or private owner of the land could say, 'We have another use for this land now, and we want you off,'" Beichner said.

Pittsburgh is home to several food deserts, areas where fresh fruits and vegetables aren't easily accessible. Beichner said there are more than 80 urban farms in the city, and that they're a sustainable way to bring these foods to a community.

"By being able to come in and permanently protect these lands and give the volunteers and farmers the support to grow these farms, they can turn to their families and neighbors and offer these fresh foods," Beichner said.

Grow Pittsburgh is a nonprofit that "shows that food growing activities are one of the keys to building a healthy, sustainable and equitable community," said executive director Jake Seltman.

Allegheny Land Trust is a conservation land trust that acquires and protects green spaces. As a joint project, Seltman said that it was essential the community was involved in the Three Rivers Agricultural Land Initiative's decision making process, as it's often their labor that could use protection.

"We owe it to community members and to our city to make sure that the gardens can survive and thrive for many generations."

Seltman said he hopes the committee will be finalized by next growing season, so the farms can be chosen. He said the land initiative will likely prioritize farms that are currently feeling development pressure.

(Photo Credit: Cristina Sanvito/Flickr)