City farming and gardening flourished in Pittsburgh in the course of the Pan pandemic

Grow Pittsburgh saw an increase in demand for locally grown food over the past year, according to Executive Director Denele Hughson. Their organization sold more than 20,000 seedlings in 2020, a new record for the group.

“The pandemic … really highlighted the struggles that our local food system and the food system in general are seeing,” said Hughson.

Grow Pittsburgh fought these struggles by growing staple foods on its farms, which were mostly located in colored communities, and donating around £ 3,000 of produce to local food banks. The organization also increased food production and delivery, extended farm stall opening hours, and opened a new store on Braddock Farms.

These efforts contribute to the organization’s mission to teach people how to grow their own food and improve access to fresh, locally grown food.

“I always say, urban farming, it can be anything from growing a tomato in your yard to a large farm,” said Hughson.

The long-term struggles of urban agriculture in Pittsburgh persist. Along with contaminated soil from the city’s industrial past, Hughson cited the pressure from development. Grow Pittsburgh has partnered with the Allegheny Land Trust to create the Three Rivers Agricultural Land Initiative, which will secure and protect green spaces for years to come.

The Pennsylvania Fresh Food Financing Initiative made more than $ 1.2 million in grants to Allegheny County in 2020. As part of the COVID-19 Relief Fund, the awards supported local farms, markets and cooperatives.

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