Building community in Duquesne

Grow Pittsburgh is excited to announce its support of five community gardens in 2018! Within the City of Pittsburgh, we will work on a garden in Homewood with BTC, Inc. and another in Homewood with Operation Better Block. We’ll also support residents in Sheraden as they build a garden focused on handicap accessibility for veterans.

Outside the City, Grow Pittsburgh will continue to partner with the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy and Allegheny County Economic Development on Allegheny Grows gardens. Wilkins Township and the City of Duquesne will each build a new garden this year.

Grow Pittsburgh has been working with the Duquesne community since fall of 2017. The garden is supported in the community by First Presbyterian Church of Duquesne, Sycamore estate (a care home next to the church), and the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh, along with many others. Though the garden is in a previously underused space on the church’s property, it sits across the street from the site of a former victory garden – leading the garden group to name their garden the Duquesne Community Victory Garden!

The garden has individual plots as well as a community farming area. Produce from this area will go to a program that provides boxed lunches to seniors, a program that provides free lunches for local children in the summertime, and a program that provides emergency food supplies for families in the area.

According to First Presbyterian Church of Duquesne Pastor Judi Slater, the garden is something the church has desired for many years.

“A vision for a garden has been with some of us at the church for a while, but we didn’t have the people with the experience or know-how to do it,” she said. “When we got connected with Grow Pittsburgh, it was an opportunity to get some …they’ve helped us do the garden but also to connect with the community and make it a true community garden.”

The community has truly come together around the garden, Slater said. They hold regular neighborhood meetings and everyone has brought a skill to the table. Though there are plenty of folks with gardening skills, a community member who has woodworking skills has offered his help. Another member makes t-shirts for a living, so the garden will have t-shirts. Everyone has brought a different skill to ensure the success of the garden – not just for growing produce, but for making a community.

In addition to the community farming plots, the garden members have made sure to include residents at Sycamore Estates next door. They have prioritized building accessible garden beds so that everyone can enjoy the garden. They have also installed a wheelchair-accessible concrete pad and walkway at the entrance closest to the care home.

For Judi, the excitement around the garden and the energy around the space has been worth the hard work she and many other community members have put into it.

“Our yard is now a happy place.”