The Food Column: Pantry gardens are flourishing

Last fall we wrote about local gardens, staffed largely by volunteers, that provide fresh fruits and vegetables for area food pantries.

The newest of the gardens, run by South Hills Interfaith Ministries, is growing like the proverbial weed.

Last year was SHIM's first stab at a food pantry garden on the grounds of its offices. This year, in addition to the main garden, there will be three satellite gardens at parishes that partner with SHIM: Bower Hill Community Church in Mount Lebanon, St. Joan of Arc Parish in South Park, and St. David's Episcopal Church in Peters.

Jack Brownfield, a prospective Eagle Scout from Bethel Park, is overseeing the St. David's garden for his community service project.

"Not only will there be more produce for the pantries and more volunteer engagement, but having the satellites will allow us to plant more unusual ethnic veggies and herbs at our main SHIM Center location -- things such as Thai chili peppers and bok choy -- while the satellites focus on tried and true plants like tomatoes and zucchini," said Kate Snyder, donor communications coordinator.

Got a green thumb? You can get involved. SHIM will hold an interfaith blessing on the garden and the organization's hunger programs at 2 p.m. Sun., May 19. Afterward, everyone in attendance will be invited to get their hands dirty and help plant the first round of seedlings in the main garden at 5301 Park Avenue, Bethel Park. Volunteers also can be involved throughout the growing season.

For more information, go to


Coffee Tasting 101: Learn how to talk coffee like a connoisseur. 2 p.m. Saturday, May 18, at Pittsburgh Public Market, Strip District. $5.

Fourth Anniversary Celebration: Naturally Soergel's, the health food store located at Soergel Orchards in Franklin Park, is celebrating its fourth anniversary this Saturday, May 18, with cooking classes, book signings, samples and opportunities for customers to meet the producers of specialty diet foods.

There are two classes by gluten-free cookbook authors. The 11 a.m. class features Silvana Nardone, author of "Cooking for Isaiah: Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free Recipes for Easy, Delicious Meals." The 1 p.m. class features Brittany Angell, author of "The Essential Gluten-Free Baking Guides Part 1 & 2." Advance tickets ($20 each) are required for the cooking classes; the day's other events are free. For tickets:

Charity event

Block party: Food, drinks, music, Chinese auction, games and cornhole tournament in the parking lot of W. Ricks Taproom & Grill, Butler, from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday, May 19. Proceeds benefit the Cueva Project, which provides food and water for the displaced community of Cueva del Agua in the Dominican Republic.

Social service fair

Where to Turn Resource Fair: Speakers on health and wellness topics, including "Company Gardens and Family Tables," plus more than 60 vendors, all geared mainly toward social service professionals. 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. next Thursday, May 23, at David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Downtown. Free admission.

Rebecca Sodergren: or on Twitter @pgfoodevents.


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