Food City Fellows
Food City Fellows is a summer youth program that empowers youth with job skills, cultivates awareness of the many ways food impacts community, and introduces positive practices that support a healthy lifestyle.
Beginning in Spring 2015, the quarter acre food forest, named Food City, has begun its transition into a community organized and maintained community garden. Community garden members can sign up to maintain an individual garden plot while participating in seasonal volunteer days and potlucks. In addition to being a community garden, Neu Kirche Contemporary Art Center will continue to host artist residencies and neighborhood art programs in the space. For more information about Food City Community Garden, contact Madi Nestor at email@example.com
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Food City Fellows employed 9 new teenagers and 3 alumni teens for the Summer 2013 program. Teens focused on the quarter-acre Food City community garden site. Some of their accomplishments include:
- Planting trees (Paw Paw, Chestnut, Soapberry, Wild Goose Plum, Myidaho Apricot, Wild Apple), berry and nut bushes and fruiting vines (hazelnut, chokeberry, blackberry, blueberry, currant, gooseberry, seaberry, schisandra, hardy kiwi, maypop passionflower)
- Planting a wide variety of edible and medicinal herbs and perennial flowers
- Designing understory beds beneath newly planted trees
- Laying out a mandala garden at the south entrance
- Planting the south entrance with an annual garden of corn, beans, ground cherries, eggplant, tomatoes, peppers, squash, zinnias, basil, parsley and okra
Program activities included:
- Learning and practicing permaculture gardening techniques
- Cooking foods harvested from Food City and Museum gardens
- Completing Standards and Straight Talk, a tool created by The Food Project to promote job readiness skills and character development.
- Visiting Ballfield Farm, Hazelwood Food Forest, Healcrest Urban Farm, and Randyland to try edible and medicinal plants and practice different food cultivation techniques and landscape designs
- Visiting Bidwell Training Center to explore certificate programs pertinent to the fields of horticulture and culinary arts
- Meeting with Saxifrage School to consider how to gain the skills necessary to achieve personal life goals
- Sampling local foods at Embody Natural Health and Wild Purveyors
- Discussing the economics of the global cacao trade at Mon Aimee Chocolat
- Learnign about yoga and how it can increase overall health with Myrna Patterson of Yoga Nuvo.
- Providing flower bouquets from Food City to the Northside Congregate Feeding Program
- Assisting in serving lunch to the local community
Other highlights include:
- A beautiful shed used as part of Vanessa German’s Love Front Porch installation at the Three Rivers Arts Festival was generously donated to Food City.
- Through a new partnership with Amizade Global Service-Learning, three Brazilians visiting Pittsburgh for the month of July participated in program activities, shared their culture and language with the teens and staff.
- In August, Food City Fellows gave tours of Food City and the Museum gardens to more than 60 teens from the region who were visiting Pittsburgh for the Mid-Atlantic YouthALIVE! (MAYA) Summit.
- In September and October the Greater Pennsylvania Regional Council of Carpenters brought a crew of skilled volunteers to build a three-bin compost bin, finish construction of the perimeter fence and entrance gates, and gifted Food City with several handmade benches and a ‘wishing well’ to protect the water spigot.
- Following the summer program, several teens continue to maintain Food City with help of neighborhood volunteers.
Food City Fellows remediated a vacant lot in the East Deutschtown neighborhood of the Northside, a fifteen minute walk from CMP. The site is a quarter of an acre (10,821 square feet) located on four vacant city lots and two privately owned lots. The cross streets are Tripoli Street, Retail Way and Lovitt Way. Ten teens and two program assistants worked to remediate the soil, build a fence and create designs for the space, while learning about the bigger conversation of how food impacts both local and global communities. Named ‘Food City’ by the teens, the site will be planted by the community with a permaculture forest garden demonstration site in Spring 2013, including fruit and nut trees, berry bushes, a variety of edible and medicinal herbs and flowers.
Food City Fellows was developed in partnership with Women for a Healthy Environment (WHE) and Pittsburgh Public Schools. WHE and CMP were interested in creating a program that gave teens the chance to learn about the many aspects of eating and growing healthy food, and give them the tools to create a garden themselves. CMP partnered with Young Men and Women’s African Heritage Association (YMWAHA), located just two blocks from CMP in the Central Northside neighborhood, as they were given permission to create a garden on a vacant, private lot next to their building.
Funded with support from the Alcoa Foundation and the Heinz Endowments.