The presence of vacant properties is a challenge that municipalities face every day, but these spaces can be utilized to benefit the community in several ways: returning properties to the tax rolls, improving community engagement, fostering economic development, and combating food insecurity.
Interest in urban agriculture and community gardening has seen a major resurgence in the last 15 years. As municipal leaders seek ways to improve the quality of life for their neighborhoods, community gardens have shown to cultivate resident engagement and productive community partnerships. Utilizing vacant lots as green space in some communities has also revealed an improvement in air and water quality, helping with stormwater issues and even calming local traffic.
As a response to rising interest in community gardening, Grow Pittsburgh formed in 2005 and has since become a go-to resource when it comes to self-sustaining urban agriculture in the region. Join Local Government Academy in partnership with Sustainable Pittsburgh’s Sustainable Community Development Network (SCDN) as we host speaker Rayden Sorock, Director of Community Projects at Grow Pittsburgh, for a webinar describing best practices for starting an urban agricultural project. Learn which policies municipalities can adopt to facilitate growing food, and then hear from Rebecca Bradley, Manager of Wilkins Township, about a real community garden project.
About the presenters:
Rayden Sorock is the Director of Community Projects at Grow Pittsburgh. Since 2008, Rayden has been working in community-focused agriculture, and has worked with communities to start or support 80+ community gardens throughout Allegheny County. He lives in Wilkinsburg with his family and backyard garden.
Rebecca Bradley has been the Manager for Wilkins Township, Allegheny County for the last 15 years. She also serves as a peer-to-peer consultant for the DCED Governor’s Center for Local Government Services. Prior to working for Wilkins, Rebecca spent ten years as the Administrator for the City of Aliquippa, Beaver County. Rebecca has a Masters in Business Administration from Geneva College. Hobbies including running, reading and weeding.