Thursday, May 7, 2009


I love Pittsburgh. Sure, there are hills that make the ones I was lamenting in my last post look like speedbumps. And the inordinate number of potholes that could swallow up a minivan before your very eyes make for challenging city cycling at times. But there's such energy here. And architecture. And good people. And there's a great organic food co-op nearby Steve's apartment. And green spaces everywhere just waiting to be nurtured into lush gardens. I daresay Pittsburgh may have the most green space in the country of any city its size.

Maybe I'm just swept up in the beauty of today. After all of the menacing weather reports last night I thought I was going to be waiting out a virtual monsoon. (Seems to be the pattern these days.) But no, by a bit after 11 this morning the grey clouds dissolved and opened up a sunny, warm afternoon -- right about the time Ollie and I arrived at the Landslide Community Farm (

My friend Will who works with the women over at Mildred's Daughters -- another urban farm here in the 'burgh -- had been kind enough to introduce me to one of the lead farmers at Landslide yesterday. When I learned that today was going to be a community work day, I pulled out my Bike Pittsburgh map (courtesy of my friend Don) and charted out a route. I arrived at the site to find 5 or 6 volunteers already digging in some of the raised beds and jumped right in. Crystal taught me the basics of potato planting; Tom helped me refine my knotweed-pulling technique. (He and I marveled at the tenacity of the invasive plant, which seems structurally quite similar to bamboo or asparagus. "Why couldn't it have been asparagus that had taken over this city?" I wondered, hungrily.) I loaded up buckets of mushroom mulch for where the plum trees were being planted, pulled knotweed, and considered the joy of having my hands in the ground at last. I learned from the others about the innovative acquisition and use of the property that had literally gone through 2 major landslides in the past half-century -- land which the creative folks at the site had purchased from the city and are hoping to expand to help nurture and feed the larger community just east of the Birmingham Bridge (

Speaking of feeding, I'm hoping to make it back over there in a few days to partake in the weekly Sunday (mostly vegan) brunch. I'm hoping Elijah will recant his vow to save all 20 varieties of organic garlic for next year and toss some in with the tofu scramble...

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry


  1. pulling the knotweed,, does that really work in getting rid of it? we've got tons of it here and it just keeps coming back due to their root system.. love to hear... Glad you've finally landed somewhere and have your two feet "planted" on the ground for a while :)

  2. I like Pittsburgh, too. We used to have Thanksgiving there when we were kids. We had a great Uncle and Aunt in Mount Lebanon.

  3. Your post made me smile- Pittsburgh is my hometown. If you happen to visit the Phipps Conservatory, there is a 10-year old avocado tree named Ralph (named for my grandfather, whose California ranch provided the mighty tasty parent avocado)


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