Taste herbs, drink beer, meet pigs at urban farm tours

Two upcoming events will give city folks the opportunity to learn about farming on self-guided tours with stops at area farms.

The Pittsburgh Urban Farm Tour will be from 1 to 6 p.m. Saturday, and starts at East End Food Co-op in Point Breeze and offers stops at 13 farms within Pittsburgh and surrounding neighborhoods.

And the Butler County Farm Tour will feature six farms in northern Butler County from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Oct. 7 and 8.

Pittsburgh Urban Farm Tour

“Urban agriculture is a movement that’s growing across the country, and here in Pittsburgh, we have a lot of urban agriculture initiatives,” said organizer and East End Food Co-op’s member services coordinator, Erica Peiffer. “I wanted to highlight those.”

She saw a tour as a way to connect East End Food Co-op’s shoppers directly with local farmers.

The farms in the tour are: Braddock Farms, Grow Pittsburgh’s urban farm in Braddock; The Drew Mathieson Center, the horticultural and agricultural training site for the North Side’s Manchester Bidwell Corporation; FIT Farms, a Garfield urban farm where parents finishing prison sentences after nonviolent offenses can receive job training and re-acclimate into society; Frick Greenhouse, Grow Pittsburgh’s Victorian greenhouse at the Point Breeze museum; Garden Dreams Urban Farm & Nursery in Wilkinsburg; Garfield Community Farm, an organic permaculture farm; Homewood Historical Community Farm; Hops on Lots’ Stanton Heights hops-growing location; Oasis Farm & Fishery, which grows lettuce and herbs and raises fish in Homewood; Sankofa Village Community Garden in Homewood Brushton; Shiloh Farm, Grow Pittsburgh’s farm on a single lot in Point Breeze; Steel City Soils, a Braddock compost cooperative; and Sylvania Natives, which grows perennials, shrubs and small trees in Squirrel Hill.

Several farms have planned special activities that day. Garden Dreams will offer demonstrations on topics such as herbal infusions and kombucha. The Drew Mathieson Center will set up informational kiosks around the property. Guests can play cornhole at Braddock Farms and watch volunteers install pollinator gardens at Homewood Historical Community Farm. At FIT Farms, guests will be able to see the “grow room,” which has a mechanism that turns plants’ vibrations into music. Sylvania Natives’ visitors will be able to take home one free pollinator-friendly plant per guest. And those who stop at Hops on Lots can also drop in at nearby Roundabout Brewery to try samples of beers made with the hops.

Tourists must start their day at East End Food Co-op, where they will pick up a guidebook and buttons identifying them as tour participants so they can take part in the special activities. The Co-op has also designed an interactive online map that will allow tour participants to create their own driving or biking routes with stops at the farms they most want to see. Registration at the Co-op starts at 12:30 p.m. and ends at 4:30 p.m. Farms are welcoming guests between 1 and 6 p.m.

The tour costs $25 per car or $10 per bike. Online registration is available at pasafarming.org/events/pasa-events/pasa-education-event-pittsburgh-urban-farm-tour. The tour is a benefit for the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture.

Butler County Farm Tour

This tour is free and includes six farms: 

Cheeseman Farm in Portersville has pumpkins, petting zoo, pony rides, gourd painting and, for an additional cost, hayrides.

Jennings Environmental Education Center in Slippery Rock will discuss maple sugaring and sell maple syrup and related products.

Lutherlyn Equestrian Center in Butler will offer pony rides, horse encounters and games. The Best Eats & Treats food truck will also be on site.

Pinehall at Eisler Farms, Butler, will be open Sunday only, Oct. 8, for a free early bird farmer’s brunch starting at 9 a.m.

Stuchal Farms in Slippery Rock will display antique tractors and farm equipment and allow visitors to see a corn, soybean and wheat farm.

WestPark Alpacas in Slippery Rock will offer educational demonstrations on sustainability and weaving with alpaca fibers and caring for chickens, ducks, pigs and sheep. Free hot dogs and popcorn will be available.

Tourists can make several additional non-farm stops that include a distillery, glass blowing center, canning facility, toy store and grain mill. For information, go to visitbutlercounty.com/farmtour.

Rebecca Sodergren: pgfoodevents@hotmail.com; @pgfoodevents.


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