Urban Farming

Niven Sabherwal / 90.5 WESA

Hobo doesn’t look like your typical bodyguard. With soft brown eyes and a dark chocolate coat, the miniature donkey is quiet, calm and blends in with the herd he protects. That is, until something threatening approaches.

“He’s never actually had to chase off a coyote or anything,” said Doug Placais. “But if a dog or anything comes up to the fence, he’s always ready to protect them. He stands alert.”  

You, Too, Can Become An Urban Farmer

Apr 21, 2016
Garfield Farms / Twitter

It’s springtime in Pittsburgh! As the weather gets warmer, many are making the decision to start growing food and raising animals like goats and chickens in their own backyards. What does it take to be an urban farmer? We’ll ask Heather Manzo, a Penn State Extension Educator focusing on food systems.  She joins us to talk about the state of urban farming in Pittsburgh and programs developed to prepare potential growers.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

A small herd of voracious baby goats may be the savior for city parks long-plagued by nettlesome weeds and unsightly flora.

Pittsburgh City Council voted unanimously Wednesday to advance legislation that would invite an all-goat landscaping crew and their guardian donkey, Hobo, to graze sections of Emerald View, Highland and West Penn parks this summer.

Flickr User Jordan Schwartz

Urban farmers rejoice — it might soon become easier to raise farm animals in Pittsburgh, and to raise them legally.

Pittsburgh's Urban Forest One of the Largest in the Country

Oct 3, 2014
Corey Cousins / Flickr

As the colors of autumn entice us to do some foliage watching, many people in Pittsburgh need look no further than their nearby neighborhoods.

According to the U.S. Forest Service and the University of Vermont Spatial Analysis Lab, 42 percent of Pittsburgh is covered by tree canopy. That’s more than green cities like Portland, Washington D.C., Austin and Philadelphia. Despite our reputation as an industrial town, Pittsburgh has one of the largest urban forests in the country. So how did these forests form? What is an urban forest and where can they be found?

Allegheny County’s master gardeners will have a chance to show off their green thumbs and celebrate gardening with an expected 1,000 visitors at the 8th annual Garden in the Parks event Saturday.

The event will take place near the demonstration gardens in North Park and South Park from 9am to 1pm.

Throughout the day, approximately 30 Master Gardeners will be at each site to offer tours of the gardens, answer questions, organize games for children, raffle off gardening tools, and host taste-tests.

Colony Collapse & the Buzz on Beekeeping in Pittsburgh

Jul 7, 2014
Justin Leonard / Flickr

Two years ago we took a look at the world of urban farming in Pittsburgh, with a focus on beekeeping in particular. As in many cities, those who want to build apiaries in Pittsburgh have had to jump through various bureaucratic hoops and deal with the myths and fears surrounding honeybees.

President Obama recently stressed the importance of preserving our honeybee populations for the sake of food security. And the White House has even announced plans to form a task force to investigate honeybee colony collapse.

With renewed attention on the decline of pollinators, Steve Repasky, President of Burgh Bees and David Tarpy, Professor and Extension Apiculturist in the Department of Entomology at North Carolina State University are working to preserve the honeybees in Pittsburgh and the rest of the country.

Repasky said the local laws for beekeeping have not changed within the last two years, and the rules for keeping bees are pretty strict. But he thinks there has been a good push for positive change in Pittsburgh, and hopes to get a change in the urban agriculture ordinance.

Urban Farming In Pittsburgh: Better Food From Your Backyard

Aug 2, 2013
Garfield Farms

From the country to the city, many urban dwellers are beginning to develop self-sustainable farms in the backyards of their Pittsburgh apartments. These “city farms” engage communities in the farming process and improve nutrition to citizens that do not live near a grocery store or market.

Small gardens and urban livestock such as chicken and bees can be found on balconies, roofs and oftentimes in revitalized vacant lots.

Heather Mikulas works in local food infrastructure and agricultural entrepreneurship for the Penn State University Extension Office in Allegheny County and helps backyard farmers develop their own agricultural techniques. She says that everyone has a different reason to start planting an urban garden, but anyone can do it.