Pittsburgh mayoral candidate Harris pushes urban farms

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A farm in every Pittsburgh neighborhood would be one of the goals of a Franco Dok Harris administration, the independent mayoral candidate said today, as his campaign sounded its final notes before Tuesday's election.

The novel proposal -- which would have the city assemble vacant lots and help gather the expertise needed to transform them into farms -- captures several of the themes of Mr. Harris' bid to unseat Mayor Luke Ravenstahl. The challenger has portrayed himself as the candidate of small business and neighborhoods, and argued that few things bring a neighborhood together like a small farm.

"It really is a way of building a community, and ensuring that people interact," he said while standing on Mildred's Daughter's Farm, a privately owned five-acre farm on which Stanton Heights neighbors labor for their produce. "The effects of growing something, and picking it with your own hands, and saying, I started this from a seed, and all the way to a fruit, is a very profound message, and one that resonates with all ages."

Also running is Independent Kevin Acklin, who was touring senior centers today. He summarized his campaign's message on Wednesday when he portrayed Mr. Ravenstahl as out of touch for downplaying unemployment in the city.

Mr. Ravenstahl plans to break ground on new Strip District condominiums Monday, in tune with his message that the city is growing.

Mr. Harris, though, wants another kind of growth.

"We had some [city-grown] purple carrots the other day. They were delicious," he said. Farming is "about clean water, clean air, and healthy, locally grown food to sustain our bodies."

The Ravenstahl administration's efforts to free up vacant properties for sale helped enable the creation of the Landslide Community Farm in the Hill District.


Rich Lord can be reached at rlord@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1542.


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