Growing the workforce, growing community

It’s a sunny afternoon and neighborhood youth are crowded in a vacant lot, pulling weeds and tidying growing space. The Frankstown Avenue garden and the sunny mural across the street sit in sharp contrast to much of the surrounding area. Periodically, commuters stop to chat up the youth and admire their work.

This is NaTisha Washington’s first year leading Operation Better Block’s Junior Green Corps, but she sees the impact of their work on passers-by, and the youth themselves.. “Having people walk around and acknowledge that (the corps members) are contributing to the community…just seeing the garden and knowing that people are maintaining it, people who are connected to and look like they’re from the neighborhood, I think it matters,” says Washington.

Will you help us reach our goal of raising $10,000 to grow communities?

Operation Better Block established the Junior Green Corps in 2010 to provide Pittsburgh youth with green jobs that improve their neighborhoods. The organization partnered with FedEx to create this garden, but patches of the land they adopted from the city are contaminated with lead. In 2017, NaTisha received a Grow Pittsburgh Community Garden Sustainability Fund Grant and Grow Pittsburgh doubled the program’s safe growing space by adding raised beds.

PPS Letsche Education Center School student Davon Reynolds, 17, helped prepare and install the raised beds. He’s the oldest corps member, and while he doesn’t think his future involves farming, this experience has affected him.

“I’ll be driving past, when I’m older and have another job and kids probably, I’ll tell them. ‘Look over here, kids: I used to work here. We grew food, cut grass, pulled weeds and stuff. I had a job, and y’all might work here too,” said Reynolds.

Community support made it possible for us to increase safe growing space in the Homewood community. Won’t you join us in supporting gardens the next generation? Please join us in reaching our goal of $10,000.