Farming in the City

By Dominic Lazzini – 10th Grade, South Fayette Township High School

Around 50 high school students from around the city of Pittsburgh stand in a big circle outside the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens.  They rush across the circle as fast as they can, and when the last person to get to the perimeter of the circle yells, “The wind blows when you’re wearing pink!”, they rush across the circle again. This is not a cult ritual or an athletic contest, but merely a team-building exercise for the young adults who have arrived at Phipps for the 2nd Annual Pittsburgh Youth Garden Summit.

The teens of the summit take part in a team-building exercise outside the Special Events Hall.

The teens of the summit take part in a team-building exercise outside the Special Events Hall.

The Summit was held at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens on August 4th, 2015. The event lasted from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm in the Special Events Hall, where U.S. President Barack Obama hosted a dinner for leaders of twenty different nations during the 2009 G20 Summit. Unlike the G20 Summit, the Youth Garden Summit celebrated the accomplishments of youth engaged in summer urban gardening, farming, and planting programs throughout Pittsburgh. The day started off with a welcoming and was followed by the team-building exercise, “When the Wind Blows.”

After the team-building game, 7 urban farming programs from Homestead, Wilkinsburg, Braddock, and more gave presentations to the group. The groups each talked about what they accomplished over the summer, including planting a garden for kids in the city, helping out at Braddock Farms, and learning how to cook pizza using vegetables they had harvested.

The programs help create and maintain  gardens that add to the beauty of Pittsburgh. For instance, teens in the Braddock Youth Project group helped plant flowers and other greenery to beautify an adobe dome that is currently being built.

Besides creating beautiful green spaces, the teens also give back to their communities. The Phipps High School Internship Program went to the local YMCA and educated kids about urban farming and planting.  The Braddock Youth Project group planted a youth garden for children to visit.

Every program participated in at least one community service project, and not only do these efforts help the community, but the gardens and planting turn Pittsburgh into a very “green” city.

Aaron, a 2nd year intern with the Phipps High School Internship Program, said he enjoyed the day and being in the program. He has an interest in plants, and the internship is a great opportunity for him to get professional-level experiences in botany and planting.

The teens await their lunch as they sit and relax in one of Phipps' outdoor gardens.

The teens await their lunch as they sit and relax in one of Phipps’ outdoor gardens.

After the presentations, the group of teens and adults walked through the garden to sit under a big white tent for lunch. Not only was the scenery of flowers and plants astonishingly beautiful, but so was the view (we could easily see the Cathedral of Learning). Some of the food served for lunch was made from food that was grown in the teenagers’ gardens.

This is the awesome view the teens got to see while they ate their lunch.

The view while eating lunch.

Overall, the Pittsburgh Youth Garden Summit was professional, yet enjoyable. Located inside the  magnificent Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, the day was wonderful. The presentations were exceptional and gave an in-depth look into what the youth of our city are doing to help their communities as well as make Pittsburgh one of the “greenest” cities in America.


Dominic Lazzini 1Dominic Lazzini is a 10th grader at South Fayette Township High School. He resides in McDonald, PA and is part of the high school’s media club. He enjoys painting, playing lacrosse, history, and geography. In Dom’s freshman year, he was on the highest honor roll.

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