United States of America, Pennsylvania, Allegheny, Pittsburgh
Garden Dreams Urban Farm and Nursery (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania)
Three previously vacant city lots comprise this one-third acre urban farm and nursery garden focused on growing organically, providing a community gathering place, and teaching about sustainable land use. Ecologically sound practices are their main feature. The farm keeps bees for pollination and chickens for their eggs and to provide manure for the compost. Garden structures are fabricated from found or re-used objects and discarded building materials, such as PVC pipes that are too old to be used for their intended purpose but can serve as hoops for floating row covers. The business is recognized for its ingenuity, craftiness and thrift, as well as for creating a green space in a struggling neighborhood. They grow 100 varieties of tomatoes including heirlooms, dozens of sweet and hot peppers, many kinds of eggplants, greens and herbs. Flowers that are grown may be edible or are attractive to pollinating bees and other beneficial insects, including sunflowers, alyssum, coneflowers and native asters.
Since the urban lots contained detritus from demolished buildings and other debris, they had to be excavated, leaving craters that were filled with leaf mulch courtesy of the local public works agency. The organic matter decomposed into the degraded soil creating an excellent growing medium. Subsequent testing showed that the produce grown there was not contaminated and safe.
Persons associated with the garden include: Allegheny City vacant property program (former owners, 1996); Mindy J. Schwartz and Barbara K. Nicholas (former owners, 1996); Hannah Reiff (production manager, 2010- ); Robert Madden (outreach manager, 2008- ).
The folder includes worksheets and photocopies of articles.
Garden has been featured in "Seed in the City" by Christine H. O'Toole, published in Pittsburgh Magazine, May 2008; "Seeds of Change" published in Table Magazine ; interview with Hannah Reiff by Chef Chuck, Forest Hills-Regent Square Patch, July 29, 2011