Allegheny County officials announced Monday that they are looking for applications from more municipalities and neighborhood groups interested in participating in the third year of the "Allegheny Grows" program. Communities and organizations selected will get gardening supplies and technical support for two years.
The program's benefits extend beyond providing a source of vegetables for food banks. "Allegheny Grows" teaches communities how to develop and operate urban farms and community food gardens. They create a catalyst for community development, job training, environmental stewardship and youth education. Such gardens also reduce urban storm water runoff, minimize erosion, absorb carbon dioxide and reflect as much as 25 percent of the sun's heat, according to the county. They also can provide shelter for wildlife and support migratory bird species.
During the first two years of the program, gardens and urban farms have been set up in Millvale, McKees Rocks, Penn Hills and Wilkinsburg in addition to Bellevue. Plans call for expanding the program to at least two more communities next spring. Allegheny Grows programs are limited to municipalities and organizations operating in communities where at least 47 percent of residents qualify as low- to moderate-income families. More information is available by calling 412-350-1198 or visiting the Economic Development Department Web site at economic.alleghenycounty.us. Click on the "Allegheny Grows Application" under the "Features" listing on the right-hand side of the page.
Potential applicants must attend one of two information sessions scheduled for 6 to 8 p.m. Sept. 7 in the Millvale Community Center or 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Sept. 12 in the Wilkinsburg Housing Resource Center. Completed applications must be postmarked or submitted in person by Sept. 30. Interviews and site visits will take place during October with awards announced in November.