BYP youth have been gardening since the program’s inception in the summer of 2006. Youth plant and maintain a garden at Puhala, the Washington Avenue Flower Farm, and the Braddock Avenue Youth Garden. All three of these sites were converted, by BYP youth, from vacant lots to blooming gardens.
This summer, the gardening team decided to give a face lift to the garden at Puhala, by removing about 300 cinder blocks from the existing beds, leveling the ground, and reconstructing the raised beds. This site is now ready to flourish next season!
The team also expanded the Youth Garden with a beautiful keyhole design. This is currently in use with a cover crop of peas. The keyhole design is very functional, sinceit allows us to use more of our space for growing. The beds are just wide enough that you can reach across from either side.
This summer’s bounty included corn, tomatoes, cabbage, chard, collards, hot peppers, eggplant, broccoli, banana peppers, butternut squash, and zucchini. This is in addition to our herb and flower bed.
We also maintain the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy’s Rankin Bridge site throughout the year.
With all of our beautiful vegetables, we have had many opportunities to learn how to cook with them. This year we have made many different things, from salsa to smoothies, chocolate chip zucchini bread to tortillas. One day we made pizza from scratch and fired it up in the brick oven. We even made our own cheese and pasta sauce!
On special occasions, the entire BYP comes together for a meal cooked by the gardeners. This year, we all sat down for a Thanksgiving dinner. We have so much to be thankful for.
Since the gardening team has acquired so much knowledge, we have chosen to work with neighborhood elementary students. This summer, we planted seeds and talked about how to take care of a garden with the kids at Heritage Out of School Time (HOST). We hope to continue this partnership.
This school year, the gardening team has been teaching healthy cooking and nutrition to a group of students at Propel Braddock Hills Elementary School.
On Halloween, the entire BYP planned and facilitated games for a Halloween party in the community center for neighborhood kids.
Collard Greens Cook Off
Our biggest event of the year is the annual Collard Greens Cook Off, which is a fundraiser for the gardening team. A special thank you goes out to all who were involved! This event helps make all of our other projects happen.
This year was our second cook off, and it was even bigger than the last! The gardeners prepared macaroni and cheese, corn bread, and 40 pounds of potatoes for potato salad for sides!
Over 100 guests filled up on collard greens from our 13 contenders.
The winners of the Cook-Off were:
$250 – 1st Place – Piggy Greens, Kimmy Miller and Chris Ferry
$125 – 2nd Place – Sweet Sally’s Greens, Rachelle Mackson
$75 – 3rd Place – Milton’s Greens, James Milton
Super Adobe Dome and Other Community Projects
Perhaps one of our favorite things to do other than gardening and cooking is get involved in the community. This summer, we assisted in the building of a super adobe dome.
This adobe dome, created by the wonderful folks at Transformazium, is a replica of the domes that were built in Haiti for hurricane recovery. They are made of dirt, cement, sand, water, and shredded sand bags, so they are simple enough to build quickly and resistant enough to withstand earthquakes and hurricanes.
The best part of the process was throwing this muddy mixture at the walls to create more stability.
Every Thursday this fall, the gardening team helped out at Grow Pittsburgh’s Braddock Farms. We planted garlic, removed raised beds, and prepared the farm for winter.
This winter we are looking forward to designing next year’s gardens, looking through seed catalogues, working with kids, and cooking lots of delicious snacks!