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.
The team expanded the Youth Garden with a beautiful keyhole design. The keyhole design is very functional, since it allows us to use more of our space for growing. The beds are just wide enough that you can reach across from either side.
They also maintain the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy’s Rankin Bridge site throughout the year.
With all the beautiful vegetables, the gardening team has had many opportunities to learn how to cook with them. They’ve made many different things, from salsa to smoothies, chocolate chip zucchini bread to tortillas. One day they made pizza from scratch and fired it up in the brick oven. They even made their own cheese and pasta sauce!
BYP’s Gardening Team spreads their knowledge by working with neighborhood elementary students. They teach kids down at Heritage Out of School Time (HOST) how to plant and maintain a garden, and to cook healthy and delicious meals. On Halloween, the entire BYP plans and facilitates a Halloween party for kids in the neighborhood.
Collard Greens Cook Off
The biggest event of the year is the annual Collard Greens Cook Off, which is a fundraiser for the gardening team. This event helps make all of the other projects happen, so a big thank you to those who get involved!
The gardeners prepare macaroni and cheese, corn bread, and potato salad for sides. Guests fill up on collard greens from our contenders, they have a chance at raffles and bid on silent auction prizes, and the contenders compete to have the most popular collards!
Super Adobe Dome and Other Community Projects
Aside from gardening and cooking, the garden team loves to get involved in the community.
The garden team 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. Many of the youth’s favorite part of the process was throwing this muddy mixture at the walls to create more stability.
The gardening team has also helped out at Grow Pittsburgh’s Braddock Farms. They’ve planted garlic, removed raised beds, and prepared the farm for winter.