For the last three years, the City of Pittsburgh has offered South Side residents public space and water at individual garden plots at Bandi Schaum Field. There are nearly 90 plots, all of them filled, which qualifies this particular garden as one of the largest community gardens in Western Pennsylvania.
The garden was planned with the notion to leave open space for future projects and community fun. One of the spontaneous and positive outcomes of this venture was that children became excited about exploring the garden. The Bandi Schaum gardeners applied for an Awesome Pittsburgh grant because they wanted to create an experiential art space for these children and their families. Their project, “Art in the Garden,” was driven by a desire for those families to experience what they’re learning about planting, growing, and harvesting through art.
Steering committee member and gardener Carla Garfield says,
“Community gardeners grow much more than vegetables and flowers. In partnership with the city, we make positive environmental, economic, and aesthetic impacts on daily lives. We visualize a true community arts environment for families, within the realm of our treasured garden. We’re so excited about the opportunity we’ve been given, thanks to Awesome Pittsburgh, to make our vision a reality!”
Awesome Pittsburgh trustee Iris Whitworth shares her enthusiasm for this urban project:
“Art in the Garden is an awesome project that grew out of an already vibrant space for community food growing. I visited Bandi Shaum last summer during a bike tour. After climbing the steep slopes, the tired bikers were welcomed into a tree-top oasis! What struck me the most was the gardeners’ passion for sharing food with everyone. Art in the Garden is an awesome and creative way to engage youth in food growing and to provide educational tools via an impressive community space.”
The garden’s steering committee will set up art boxes, art tables and seating, art equipment and supplies, and weather-resistant musical instruments. The committee not only wants to provide children access to materials (paints, paper, chalk, beads, wire, chimes), but also to offer exhibit space. Additionally, this grant will enable the committee to invite and hire artists who will teach artistic and musical techniques to children and families, and to oversee larger, collaborative projects. Building and implementation of new projects begins soon.