ESY is always looking for Lesson Volunteers! To learn more, hear from volunteer Michelle O’Leary. If you’d like to volunteer with the Edible Schoolyard Pittsburgh, read this ESY Lesson Volunteer Description and email

Why did you volunteer with Edible Schoolyard?
I was in between jobs and new to the area. So, I began volunteering with various nonprofits. I really had no idea how much Grow Pittsburgh was doing when I first reached out to Maria, so I tried to get involved with as many projects that I could.  I volunteered for a few months with Farmer Courtney at Pittsburgh Montessori that spring and random projects for the next year at Braddock Farm, Shiloh Farm and other schools. I hope to continue supporting Grow Pittsburgh in their future projects, because I believe their mission of providing all Pittsburghers with nutritious, home grown food is absolutely essential to growing a healthier Pittsburgh.

What is your favorite aspect of volunteering?
The kids! When I was helping out with Edible Schoolyard in March 2014, I was blown away by how much the kids learned in the two short months that I was there. It is truly inspiring to see children, who planted radish seeds two months before, jump for joy when they are ready to harvest. Not to mention, the excitement of trying their delicious produce. Many kids couldn’t even wait to wash them off!

What did you give through volunteering?
My time, a positive attitude and seriously the same amount of excitement as many of the kids when harvest happens.

What did you gain in return from your experience?
Two things. One, I gained a greater appreciation for the amount of effort it takes to grow a garden. It is not easy work, and it requires a lot of people working together as a team before reaping a delicious harvest.

Two, each and everyday I spent in the garden with Grow Pittsburgh staff–I was blown away by the passion these people have for urban gardening, produce education and building community in various Pittsburgh neighborhoods. They are all truly inspirational people and I want to thank them for giving me the privilege to volunteer for their organization.