Springtime brings green projects, volunteer opportunities


With springtime comes the season for green projects, and the need for volunteers to help clean up the neighborhood and maintain green spaces.

On Friday April 24, we’ll be helping Tree Pittsburgh plant 100 restoration trees at the reforestation site on Brereton Street just below 30th Street (this is where the goats were brought in to clear vines last year). A group of corporate volunteers will be coming to help, but it would be great to have some help from residents too. Meet at the site at 10:00 a.m.

And Saturday April 25 is the neighborhood clean up, part of the city-wide Redd Up / Earth Day event. Meet at the PHCA office at 10:00 a.m. We’re also looking for people to lead volunteer teams to clean up different sites in the neighborhood.

Further ahead, on May 16 there will be a workday at Maly Park, at the corner of Dobson Street and Herron Avenue.  The PHCA won a grant from the City’s Love Your Block program to help fix up the park.  And on May 23, we’ll need help planting flowers in the beds at West Penn Park.

Starting in May, there will be weekly gardening sessions at the Edible Garden at West Penn, which raises produce which is donated to the Jubilee Pantry on Brereton Street.  There will also be a monthly workday at the Knotweed project site on Melwood Avenue.  For more information on green projects volunteer events, email valerie@phcapgh.org.

(Above:  flower planting at West Penn park, May 2014.  Photo by Valerie Testa.)

Green committee meeting for volunteers on January 27


The Green Committee (aka the PHCA Green Team) is always looking for more volunteers.  The committee will have it’s first 2015 meeting at the PHCA office on January 27 at 6:30 p.m.  At the meeting, we’ll be discussing goals for this year, scheduling cleanups, and more. (There will probably be snacks, too.)  Anyone interested in being involved in green projects this year is encouraged to attend.  Please RSVP by calling us at 412.681.1950 or emailing valerie@phcapgh.org.

(Photo:  Green team volunteers during a neighborhood cleanup, June 2014.  Photo by Leslie Clague)

While we’re on the topic of green stuff, Grow Pittsburgh is again offering a great class for those who are thinking about getting into gardening this year.

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A Garden Primer is a 3-part educational series offered in February and March. The class covers all the basics, including which tools beginner gardeners will need, what and where to plant and when to harvest.

The February series is on Tuesdays: February 3, 10 and 17.  The March series is on Thursdays:  March 5, 12 and 19.  Both options are from 6:30-8:30 p.m. and are held at the East Liberty Presbyterian Church on 116 S. Highland Avenue.  The course is $50 for Grow Pittsburgh members or $60 for the general public. Free childcare and a limited number of scholarships are available. For more information, email Jake or call 412-362-4769.

Volunteers come out to clean up and maintain green spaces on the east side of Polish Hill


Ten hardy volunteers came out on Saturday to tend green spaces and pick up trash on the eastern side of the neighborhood.  An earlier date for this cleanup was cancelled due to weather.


Weather was no problem on Saturday — it was brilliantly sunny and very warm.   First, volunteers weeded and cleaned up the parklet at Melwood Avenue and Finland Street.  They picked up trash  and cut vines that were choking trees on the hillside by the Melwood steps.


The next stop was the Knotweed Knockout site, then Gold Way.  Volunteers also took the opportunity to clear some vegetation that blocked the sidewalk.




Finally, picking up trash and clearing vegetation on the Apolo steps.



Thanks to everyone who came out to help — it looks great!  The next cleanup and green space maintenance day will be on August 9.  For more information, email valerie@phcapgh.org.

Call for volunteers: help plant flowers at West Penn Park on May 27


It’s that time of year again:  time to turn the hillside below West Penn Park into a vibrant display of annual color.  The Green Team needs help getting hundreds of these flowers in the ground.  This relaxed volunteer event is kid friendly, and it’s a great way to meet neighbors.  It’s also satisfying to watch the flowers you planted grow during the season.


Volunteers should meet at 5:30 p.m. on the  corner of 30th and Brereton streets.  Gloves and tools will be provided.  For more information, email valerie@phcapgh.org.

(Above:  flower planting volunteers in 2012.  PHCA photo.)

Call for volunteers: help weed and plant on Sunday, October 13


If you’re looking to get outside on Sunday, here’s a great way to do that and to help transform the Melwood Avenue gateway to the neighborhood.  The Student Conservation and neighborhood volunteers will be will be planting native perennials and getting the site ready for winter as part of an ongoing effort to create biodiversity.

This site has been the focus of a multi-year process to clear an overgrown, knotweed-covered hillside and reclaim the site as a public space.  Last year, 25 native trees were planted, and the work continues. For more information on this project, email valerie@phcapgh.org.

No spray on Melwood Avenue and Gold Way

A few residents near the border between Polish Hill and Oakland have been planting and maintaining spaces of City land along Gold Way for a few years now.  On occasion, City contractors spraying for weed control accidentally sprayed the cultivated areas with weed killer.  These mistakes were frustrating for the residents who had purchased plants and bushes and spent hours tending these public green spaces.

Now, the PHCA Green Team, in collaboration with the Department of Public Works , has come up with a new effort to make sure that cultivated areas are not at risk for being sprayed.  Polish Hill artist (and PHCA board member) Myra Falisz designed a No Spray sign, with the image of a flower and a butterfly.  The DPW sign shop produced the signs.  City crews installed the signs last week.  The occasion was even marked by an article in the Post-Gazette.

We’re excited about this collaboration and look forward to seeing this area bloom and thrive as an example of what dedicated individuals can to make their community more beautiful.

(Photos by Alexis Miller)

What's going on at West Penn Park? It's the City's Edible Gardens program!

Last week, the PHCA Green Team and a crew from the Department of Public Works installed raised beds at West Penn Park.  The beds are a part of the City of Pittsburgh new Edible Gardens Program, an expansion of the Green Up Pittsburgh program.  In partnership with the servePGH initiative and the City’s Department of Public Works, Edible Gardens across Pittsburgh will harvest and distribute nearly one ton of produce to at least 200 families in its first year.  Partially funded by a $100,000 Cities of Service volunteering grant by Bloomberg Philanthropies to the Mayor’s servePGH initiative, $44,000 is being dedicated to planting 10-15 high-yielding vegetable and fruit gardens.

Below, the DPW crew building the raised planting beds.

Once a vacant property location is selected, volunteers work side by side with the City’s Green Team to create, design and plant produce. Community garden stewards will be responsible for maintenance, weeding, harvesting and distribution throughout the season.

(Photos by Myra Falisz for the PHCA)

Volunteer opportunity: tree tending on the Knotweed Knockout site on Friday, July 12

Last fall, 24 native trees were planted on the Knotweed Knockout site on Melwood Avenue near the eastern border of Polish Hill (just under the Bloomfield Bridge).  Above is the site in March — the trees are marked by stakes.

This spring and summer, the second Friday of each month is dedicated to tending the trees and maintaining the site.  Join us on Friday, July 12th at 6 p.m. for the monthly maintenance and care of the newly planted trees.  This area is a work in progress with a goal of creating biodiversity.  It’s a great chance to learn about organic tactics for managing the growth of knotweed and other invasives.

The work that will be happening this month consists of removing growth from the around the trees to ensure their root systems aren’t being competed with.  We’ll also be doing some weed whacking in the area.  Tools and gloves will be provided. Please wear sturdy shoes and long pants.  For more information, email Valerie Testa of the PHCA Green Team.

More photos from the Love Your Block / Dobson Street steps workday

Last Saturday over 20 volunteers came out to help fix up the Dobson Street steps.  We already posted some photos, but since then someone sent us more.  And since these photos let you see more of the people who helped out, and since we’re really happy with the way the steps look … well, here you go.  Above are Dan Pagath and Tom Ogden.

The volunteers also worked on the steps between Fleetwood and Dobson Streets.  Here, Sarah Koenig sands the railings prior to painting.

Josiah Parkinson paints railings while Terry Doloughty clears debris from the steps.

Above, PHCA president Alexis Miller and Herron Avenue resident Sam Pace painting the railings.

Again, thanks to all the wonderful people who came out to help!

(Photos by PHCA Green Team Leader Valerie Testa)

Neighborhood volunteers come out to fix up the Dobson Street city steps

The city steps that connect Dobson Street to lower Herron Avenue are probably the most-used city steps in Polish Hill.  They had also been looking shabby, with flaking and peeling railings, broken treads, and trash strewn on the hillside.

This morning, over 20 neighborhood residents came out as part of a Love Your Block grant project.  They picked up trash, sanded, cleaned and painted the railings, and installed flower boxes at the top of the steps.  A volunteer braved the overgrown hillside to cut back the knotweed, and a request has been put in to the City to fix the broken treads.

Now the steps look so much better!  Many thanks to all the people who gave up their Saturday morning to help improve this spot in Polish Hill.

If you’re interested in helping out at future cleanup or green space maintenance events, call 412.681.1950 or email us and we’ll contact you for future volunteer opportunities.

(Photos by Tony Ceoffe)