Household chemical collection event Saturday July 27

Do you have hazardous materials, such as paints, pesticides, and household cleaners that you would like to dispose of?  The Pennsylvania Resources Council and Zero Waste Pittsburgh will be collecting these and other items between 9:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, July 27th in the 2nd Avenue Plaza parking lot located underneath the 10th Street Bridge in Downtown.  There will be a $2 cash-only charge per gallon of chemicals collected. For more information about materials that will be accepted at this collection event, click here or call 412-488-7452.

Can’t make it to the Zero Waste Pittsburgh event?  PHCA volunteers will be taking items to turn in, and we can take your items too.  Polish Hill residents can drop off collection items and the $2 per gallon collection fee (cash only) at the PHCA office on Friday, July 26 between 11:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.  This is households only — no businesses and no large quantities.

Please note that items will only be accepted on Friday — our office will be closed on the day of the collection event.  Leaking or broken containers should be wrapped in thick plastic so that contents are completely contained.  For more information on dropping off items, call 412.681.1950, or email us.

Volunteer opportunity: Help Clean Green Hill on July 13

On Saturday, July 13 from 10-1, join Clean Green Hill and local volunteers in cleaning up a trashed hillside near Bedford Avenue, just a few blocks outside of Polish Hill.  This is an ideal site for a summer cleanup. There is a thick forest canopy, so we’ll be shaded from the hot sun and working in an area with relatively little thick underbrush. A significant amount of the debris is on a level area. If you don’t like steep hillsides, this is a good event for you.

Meet at Tulsa Street and Bedford Avenue, near the intersection of Bedford Ave and Herron Avenue.  Volunteers should wear long pants, closed-toed shoes, and a light weight long sleeve shirt for your protection. A hat and sunglasses are recommended.

Clean Green Hill will provide sunscreen, bug spray, water, first aid kit, tools, gloves, portable toilet facilities, trash bags, and tools.  A pizza lunch will also be provided.

This volunteer event is listed with Allegheny Cleanways.  Click here for a listing and to register in advance (note:  registration is not required — you can just show up).

Learn about urban chicken farming on the Chicks-in-the-Hood tour, June 9

Want to learn more about urban chicken farming and urban agriculture?  Join Pittsburgh Pro-Poultry People (P4) for their 3rd annual Chicks-In-The-Hood tour on Sunday, June 9 from 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

This is a self-guided tour through the North Side and East End which will include volunteers who are committed to urban chicken farming and urban agriculture.  The tour is $10 per person, and children’s tickets are free.  All proceeds from ticket sales will be donated to Just Harvest.  The purchase of a ticket will also include a tour booklet, a map with directions to each participating coop on the tour and an official Chicks-in-the-Hood collectible pin.

For more information, e-mail, or check out P4’s event information page for details and ticketing locations.


Do you grow food in the Pittsburgh area? Stand up and be counted!

Do you participate in a community garden or community farm?   Are you growing food in your backyard?  Do you keep chickens or bees?  If your answer is yes to any of these questions, then Grow Pittsburgh is interested in hearing from you.

Grow Pittsburgh is compiling a list of current and prospective urban farmers, community farmers, community gardeners, and backyard homesteaders.  They need your feedback to set priorities as they continue to work to promote growing food in our neighborhoods.  Please help by filling out this survey for any project you are currently a part of, and by sharing the link with anyone else you know who is growing food in our region.  Not all the questions will apply to everyone who grows food in the city but Grow Pittsburgh would like to hear from as many people as possible.

Here’s the survey:

It should take 15-20 minutes to complete. The information collected will be processed by Grow Pittsburgh staff and Penn State/New York University researchers.  Only aggregated, anonymous information will be shared outside the Grow Pittsburgh offices.

Please direct any questions to Marisa Manheim, or (412) 362-4769 ext.103. Paper surveys are also available on request.

(photo taken at Braddock Farms in 2010, by Larry Rippel — check out other photos from this project)

Farm fresh produce this spring and summer — CSAs and farmers markets

March or April is the best time to sign up if you want a produce subscription via a community supported agriculture program (CSA), but some farms might still have subscriptions available.  Carnegie Library produced a couple of articles which highlight CSAs in the Pittburgh area: How to pick a CSA plan that will suit you and  Find a CSA Farm. For more information, here’s a list of local farms that offer CSAs, and here’s an article from the Post-Gazette explaining about how they work.

For those who don’t sign up with a CSA — the farmer’s markets are now open for the season.  Today the Post-Gazette published an interactive map of all the farmer’s markets in and around the city.  Closest to Polish Hill, the Bloomfield (Citiparks) Farmers Market is held in the parking lot of St. Maria Goretti (former Immaculate Conception) school, just off of Liberty Avenue near West Penn Hospital.  The market is open on Thursdays from 3:30 to 7:30 p.m.

And in the Strip, Farmers@Firehouse, at 2216 Penn Ave, is open Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and sells mostly organic and naturally grown produce, local meat and poultry, with chef demos weekly.  Also in the Strip is the Pittsburgh Public Market, open year round with produce, meats, cheese, East End Brewing, and many wonderful food stalls.

(Above:  Farmers @Firehouse, from Taste of Pittsburgh)

Rain barrel workshop at Construction Junction this Saturday

Want to learn how to harvest rainwater from your roof and divert it for on-site usage in the landscape?  Learn about it at a Rain Barrel Workshop at Construction Junction this Saturday, May 18 from 11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.  The cost for the workshop is $50/person or $55/couple and includes hardware needed (but not the 55-gal. drum) to assemble and install a rain barrel.  The workshop is presented by the Pennsylvania Resources Council.  To register click here or call at 412-488-7490 ext. 247.  Construction Junction is located at 214 North Lexington Street.

For more information about gardening in the city, check out Grow Pittsburgh.  They have workshops and other learning opportunities, publicize resources for gardeners.  They have a great email newsletter as well — sign up on the Grow Pittsburgh website.


Yard Debris Special Collection on Saturday May 18

City Environmental Services crews will hold a special yard debris collection on Sat., May 18.  Bagged leaves, tree branches and bushes will be picked up and recycled for compost.  The following items will only be accepted if properly packaged:

Bagged leaves: Residents must bag leaves in paper bags only and place them out at your normal refuse collection site.  Bags should not exceed 35 pounds. Leaves in plastic bags will not be accepted.

Tree branches and bushes: Cut, bundle and tie branches and bushes in lengths not exceeding five feet.  Tree branch diameter should not exceed four inches.

City residents must place materials out for residential collection by City refuse/recycling crews on Friday, May 17.  Please note that City crews will not collect dirt, rocks, stones or cement.  Yard debris left at the curb by contracted lawn care workers or independent contractors will not be collected by City crews.

Here’s more information about the yard debris pickup from the Post-Gazette.

Safely dispose of household chemicals

Many Polish Hill residents have very old paint, solvents, and other chemicals in their basements.  If these items are put out in the trash, they end up in a landfill, where they leach into the soil and water.  A better disposal option is to take items to a special collection event.

A PHCA volunteer will be taking a truckload to the Zero Waste Pittsburgh household chemical collection event on Saturday, May 4, and we’re offering to take items from other neighborhood residents as well.  Polish Hill residents can can drop items (anything from the list below) at the PHCA office on Friday, May 3 (not before).  You’ll need to give us cash for the collection fee (these events charge $2 per gallon), and we also ask for a small donation for the service that we’re providing.  In return, you get the peace of mind that these toxic items are no longer in your home!

Items accepted for collection:
Aerosol cans; automotive fluids; batteries; chemistry sets; compact fluorescent light bulbs; gasoline; kerosene; household cleaners; mercury; paint products; pesticides; herbicides; photo chemicals; and pool chemicals. Zero Waste Pittsburgh charges a fee of $2 per gallon, cash only, and you’ll need to pay that when items are dropped off.

We won’t be accepting items until May 3, and then  it’s household items only — no large quantities such as from a business.  To protect our office, staff, and volunteers, please pack your items carefully.  Bulbs should be in closed plastic bags.  Any leaking, or bulging containers should be placed in another container, tightly sealed and clearly marked (not a plastic bag).  If you have any questions, call the PHCA at 412.681.1950 or email us.

Other items not accepted at this collection event include ammunition; appliances, bulk waste; commercial and industrial waste; compressed gas cylinders; drugs; explosives; flares; fluorescent tubes; leaking containers; medical waste; PCBs and dioxin; tires; and radioactive materials (including smoke detectors).  For more information about this and other collection events, visit or call 412-488-7452.

Call for volunteers: Earth Day cleanup in Polish Hill on Saturday, April 20

Join the PHCA’s Polish Hill Green Team as we tackle familiar territory with city steps, open spaces and along the streets.  Join us at the PHCA office at 3060 Brereton Street at 10 a.m. this Saturday, April 20. Wear sturdy shoes and clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty.  We’ll provide gloves as well as recycling and trash bags.  There’s a chance of rain that day, but that hasn’t stopped us in the past (see above photo).

We may also take this opportunity to cut some of the vines that are choking and killing trees in so many green spaces.  Since there isn’t much new vegetation yet,  it’s easy to see where the vines are and to get at them.

There will be Earth Day cleanups all over Pittsburgh on Saturday.  Just outside of Polish Hill, in Schenley Heights, they will also be picking up trash, particularly around the City steps up there.  Email here for more information.

Can’t make it this Saturday?  Keep an eye out for these future volunteer opportunities with the Polish Hill Green Team:

May 4  Flower planting at West Penn
This is an annual display sponsored by the Western PA Conservancy. We’ll be meeting at the corner of Brereton and 30th at 9 a.m.

June 15 Love Your Block Event
Tentatively scheduled for a 10 a.m. start, meet at the top of the Dobson – Herron Steps.

Monthly Tree Care
Site maintenance days to keep knotweed away from the roots of the newly planted trees at the end of Melwood.  Tentatively scheduled to start on April 26 around 5 p.m.

For more information on the Polish Hill Green Team, email Green Team leader Valerie Testa.

And the Clean Pittsburgh BOB award for Neighborhood of the Year goes to … Polish Hill!

On Thursday evening, the PHCA Green team was presented with the  Clean Pittsburgh Commission’s Bob Award for Neighborhood of the Year.  Present to accept were PHCA President Alexis Miller, Vice President Myra Falisz, Secretary and Green Team leader Valerie Testa, and board member Josiah Parkinson.

The CPC’s mission is to work to improve the environmental quality of life of Pittsburgh residents through litter and illegal dumping prevention, clean-up and enforcement.

The CPC is comprised of 15 representatives from various City departments, local non-profits, individuals and community groups. The activities of the CPC are focused in three primary areas: 1) monitoring/awareness/prevention, 2) clean-up, and 3) enforcement. The primary function of the CPC is to provide oversight, direction, leadership, resources and assistance to community groups and individuals while serving as the liaison between these groups and the appropriate City departments.

The Bob Awards honored the 150 Clean Pittsburgh Stewards who represent the city’s 90 neighborhoods.  The Bob Awards are named for the late Mayor Bob O’Connor, who put achieving a less-littered city high on his administration’s priorities. His wife, Judy, and son, Councilman Corey O’Connor, were on hand to present the awards.

Congratulations to the PHCA Green Team, and to all the many volunteers whose hard work helped make this award possible.