Tuesday, April 6, 2010
Allegheny County has launched a new program that will farm two acres of parkland using volunteer hours and sustainable practices. County workers using heavy equipment will plow the Allegheny FarmCorps plot in Round Hill Park but volunteers will do the rest of the work by hand. The harvested crops will be given to the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank. FarmCorps will hire a part-time program manager to establish farming production plans, begin seedling operations, and develop a management plan. County spokesperson Kevin Evanto says they will need hundreds of volunteer hours from individuals and groups willing to commit as little as a few hours one day, to a sustained season-long commitment. Throughout the growing season, FarmCorps will also host educational sessions about seasonal food production and preservation. The program will also offer apprenticeship guidance for those who may be interested in a career in farming. Evanto says even if you are not looking at agriculture as a career volunteers can learn a lot about backyard gardening and the advantages of local food production. Cost estimates for the initial year of the program come in at $50,000. The county has made a two-year commitment to the farm and if all goes well hopes to expand the program to other county-owned land in the future. Evanto says According to the most recent Census of Agriculture data shows Allegheny County was home to 534 farms in 2007 covering 38,023 acres.