vegetable garden, detail, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from Southern Foodways Alliance’s photostream

As interest grows in locally-sourced food and healthy options, growing your own food becomes increasing more attractive — even the White House has a kitchen garden. But, this can often pose a challenge for city dwellers. Community gardens fill the void — quite literally as they take the place of razed buildings or other plots of unused land. Grow Pittsburgh has partnered with the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy to help communities who want to start community food gardens. From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

Grow Pittsburgh and the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy joined hands to start City Growers two years ago in response to growing demand.

“We just kept getting calls,” said Julie Butcher Pezzino, executive director of Grow Pittsburgh.

In two years, City Growers has helped 12 neighborhood gardens get started — five in the city, seven in other county municipalities — by providing seedlings, plants, supplies and expertise. Grow Pittsburgh helped start four gardens before 2010.

Community Garden 8, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from T*C*W*’s photostream

Grow Pittsburgh is accepting applications now for their City Growers Community Garden Program for next year. Interested groups will need to have a partnering non-profit to be eligible and have a suitable site in mind that sits on public or non-profit-owned land in the City of Pittsburgh. The deadline to apply for next year’s program is 5:00 PM on Friday, August 24, 2012. If you are interested creating a sustainable food source for your community (and want to learn all the eligibility requirements), you can download an application here.

A wonderful added benefit of these gardens is that they help build a true sense of community. From the Post-Gazette:

Sarah Shea, a member of the South Side Slopes Neighborhood Association, said that while people turn up throughout the day to harvest and weed their plots, evenings bring the most people together, “and some people just show up to hang out.”

“This is real impressive,” Mr. Gable said during a recent visit. “You can come up here on any given night and 30 to 40 people will be working” on their plots. “This has created a great social event.”

Interested in building a community garden, but don’t live in the city? Grow Pittsburgh also has a program for existing and newly developing community vegetable gardens in low-to-moderate income non Pittsburgh City communities throughout Allegheny County. More information can be found on that program here.