Mayor Luke Ravenstahl today announced that applications are now available for his spring 2013 Edible Gardens program, an expansion of his successful Green Up Pittsburgh program and servePGH initiatives. The new program will engage community volunteers to improve access to healthy foods in 10 to 15 low-income City neighborhoods where fresh produce is scarce. Through the program, volunteers will transform vacant lots into community gardens to grow, maintain and harvest nearly one ton of fresh produce for at least 200 families in its first year. At the One Young World Summit, Ravenstahl joined Jamie Oliver and announced that the City will embrace Jamie's Food Revolution, a national movement to inspire families to cook meals and eat healthier.
“This program not only fulfills our promise to inspire more families to eat fresh, healthy food, but improves community pride by transforming vacant lots into true neighborhood assets," said Ravenstahl. "Our residents are amazing volunteers who have worked hard utilizing our ServePGH and Green UP programs to transform vacant lots and mentor young people. I have no doubt that this initiative will be just as embraced by our residents."
Targeting “food deserts” within City limits, Edible Gardens will spread the importance of healthy diets to neighbors while educating volunteers about how to produce healthy, locally grown produce.
Residents who live a significant distance from grocery stores or farmers markets are encouraged to apply to grow fruits and vegetables on a nearby City-owned lot in their neighborhood. Volunteers will work side by side with the Mayor's Green Up Pittsburgh’s Green Team on vacant properties to create, design and plant produce. Community garden stewards will be responsible for maintenance, weeding, harvesting and distribution throughout the season. Assistance from the Mayor's Green Team will be available upon request.
Applications are required, and those received by February 22 will be given priority; however, completed applications will be accepted throughout the growing season. Application approval and an orientation will be required prior to planting. The first gardens will be planted in March and April 2013.
A $100,000 Cities of Service Impact Volunteering Fund grant, funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies, was awarded to the City to support two of the initiatives that are part of Mayor Ravenstahl’s high-impact service plan, servePGH, and $44,000 will be dedicated to the Edible Gardens program. More than 60 mayors competed for this grant, and Pittsburgh is one of 19 U.S. cities selected based on the quality of the initiative, potential for impact and implementation plan.
“We are extremely grateful to Cities of Service and Bloomberg Philanthropies for their investment in this program and their continued national commitment to service and volunteerism,” Ravenstahl said.
Other Edible Gardens partners include Grow Pittsburgh and The Penn State Center.
Visit pittsburghpa.gov/ediblegardens to apply.
About Cities of Service, servePGH and Green Up Pittsburgh
Founded in New York City in September 2009, Cities of Service supports mayors who leverage citizen service strategies, addressing local needs and making government more effective. The coalition and its member cities respond to the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act's historic call to action by finding new and innovative ways to harness the power of volunteers to help solve pressing local challenges.
By obtaining a Cities of Service grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies and Rockefeller Foundation, Mayor Ravenstahl launched servePGH in March 2011 to engage Pittsburgh’s citizens in service and to answer President Obama’s national call to volunteerism. Through 10 new and innovative servePGH initiatives, the Mayor has engaged citizens in volunteer-fueled solutions to revitalize more than 600 City blocks, restore vulnerable residents’ homes, help middle-school youth navigate life’s challenges, clean up over 29,000 pounds of litter, and more. Over 3,700 volunteers have committed over 30,000 hours of service through servePGH to date.
In 2007, Mayor Ravenstahl introduced the Green Up Pittsburgh Program to combat the increasing problem of overgrown vacant and abandoned lots in our City neighborhoods. The program aims to stabilize City-owned vacant lots with goals of reducing blight and public safety hazards, inspiring community pride, and promoting environmental values.
Thursday, January 31, 2013
Mayor's Office of Service and Civic Engagement
512 City County Building | 414 Grant Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15219
telephone: 412-255-2280 | facsimile 412-255-2988