On a cool spring day, Brynlly Mazzie of Columbia Gas of PA contacted the Overbrook Community Council to inquire if they could somehow show their appreciation to the community for their patience and delays while replacing old gas lines.
What came to mind was a way to transform the weedy lot next to the historic Accamando Community Center (formerly the Overbrook Firehouse) into an asset along Rt. 51.
With an idea which Pastor Pat Mohr-Kelly of the Stewart Avenue Presbyterian Church and the Birmingham Church of Christ presented a year ago to start an urban farm program in collaboration with Women for a Healthy Environment, Overbrook Community Council members immediately thought this might be the perfect collaboration.
Columbia Gas of Pa would provide $3,000 of program funding high school students to grow and learn; Overbrook Community Council would write the agreements to use the city's property, apply for a sign, and coordinate the activities with the city of Pittsburgh; the faith based organizations would provide plants and inspirational oversight; Women for a Healthy Environment provided the program for high school students to learn to grow their own food and learn healthy living; and the Carrick Community Council would provide the required insurance to the group while farming.
In addition, Penn State University Cooperative also provided the soil testing (the soil is perfect for farming with no contaminants), and expert advice regarding the treatment of garden pests, diseases, and advice and Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak and her staff are providing liaisons with the city departments and advice on agreements.
Collaboration among business, community, students, and faith based organizations is transforming the weedy lots into Firehouse Farm. Later this year and early next year, the area will also be available for the community to use again for this program and on a first come first serve basis.