Community gardens continue to grow in light of COVID-19

McKeesport Community Gardeners practice social distancing at a recent planting day.

Since the City’s reopening of all of its community gardens late last month, gardeners in Grow Pittsburgh’s Community Garden program (both in the city proper and nearby municipalities) have surged ahead with spring garden prep and working out ways to modify their programming to practice safe social distancing in light of COVID-19. Here’s what’s currently happening at the five community gardens in our two year program:

  • Allegheny Commons (Northside): With the help of an Urban Redevelopment Authority grant, the group was able to build 18 new raised beds, nearly doubling their total growing space from last season; they now have 35 raised beds.
  • Homewood: The garden group at A Second Chance (ASC), a kinship foster care organization, are working on installing stairs to make their hillside garden space more accessible. As in person garden education is on hold for now, they’ve also distributed at-home bucket growing kits to teen members of the group, so that they can plant cucumbers, basil, okra, beans, and flowers of their own this spring.
  • McKeesport: Gardeners held a socially distant planting day for their community share beds earlier this month. Everyone was excited to get to see each other, and to plant strawberries and raspberries this year for visitors to snack on. With the help of a PA Farm Bill grant, the garden will soon feature 12 new standing beds for those who need a more accessible growing space.
  • Sharpsburg: Only in their first growing season, the Sharpsburg Market Garden folks are making great strides in their space. They recently built twelve new raised beds, two of which are wheelchair accessible. Their first planting day fell on garden coordinator Ruth Ann’s birthday, so the gardeners concluded by singing ‘Happy Birthday’ to her.
  • Whitaker: The group at Whitaker Community Garden also recently doubled their growing capacity, with ten new raised beds that they’ve already filled with new crops at a recent planting day. Branching out from the typical garden fare, they’ve also planted winecap mushrooms, a native perennial bed and a pollinator meadow mix to attract important pollinators to the space.

We’re so thrilled to be working with such resilient and hardworking folks this season! Are you a community gardener too? Check out the City of Pittsburgh’s COVID-19 Guidelines for Community Gardens to ensure you’re keeping yourself and others safe as you grow food this season.