Submitted by fadedrosebud t3_11xqhux in pittsburgh

I know there have been a few attempts to create food forests in Pittsburgh but I wish we could spark a vibrant effort to plant more. This is a win-win situation for many reasons. These are living, free food pantries.

“One day in September, the temperature on an exposed street in Dunbar Spring was 123F (50C), while a shaded street was just 85F (30C) – a 38F (20C) difference.”




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timesuck t1_jd4c9af wrote

Councilperson Deb Gross is working on this, but I don’t think she gets a ton of support from many other members of council. I know she’s supported food forest initiatives in her district though and Morningside definitely got some fruit trees at one point to expand their community garden.

You should talk to your councilperson. City owns a lot of land it’s currently doing nothing with.


RodneyPeppercorn t1_jd57que wrote

Pretty sure coghill is a partner on that too and has actually been supportive/trying to do that as well


Generic_Mustard t1_jd4jq6e wrote

Not sure about your neighborhood but we need the wildlife managed a bit better where I'm at or else the animals would just gobble everything up.

Anything edible in my yard gets decimated.

I love the idea though and have been planning to turn my yard into more of a food forest or edible permaculture. Still have to figure out the wildlife situation.


[deleted] t1_jd4q18v wrote

Bring back cougars imo

(only half joking)


[deleted] t1_jd5a0vo wrote



That_GUY_2660 t1_jd7jclc wrote

The problem now is we keep cutting down the forests and putting up housing plans. We put the housing Plans up where the deer used to eat and live and get mad when they come eat our gardens…


tdarg t1_jd5dea4 wrote

True, but we should bring back cougars anyway.


ionmoon t1_jd64p7l wrote

Wow. Thanks for sharing this info about the predator/mile issue. I don't think I have ever heard it and I find it very interesting.


Prudent-Fly-8299 t1_jd4ok75 wrote

You talking about the deer in Brighton Heights?


EllaMinnow t1_jd7rj6x wrote

Or Squirrel Hill. Or Greenfield. Or Hazelwood. Anywhere near Schenley and Frick Parks, I suspect, since naturalists say they've basically razed the edible park vegetation and are starving so they're roaming the streets in search of food and getting hit by cars.

I tried a vegetable garden the first year we after we bought our Squirrel Hill South house and realized about halfway into the season that I was basically the personal chef for a family of groundhogs.


Generic_Mustard t1_jd5199x wrote


We also have a lot of groundhogs, some turkeys, raccoons, and not sure what else and I don't exactly know who eats what other than deer, which will eat nearly anything!

Side note, I love watching the turkeys!!!


PennSaddle t1_jd5zoen wrote

Lots of us hunters would love to help solve this problem. Ha


Prudent-Fly-8299 t1_jd61i0u wrote

I know I’ve contemplated going in the woods behind Brighton heights with my bow haha


Radek_Of_Boktor t1_jd6jaop wrote

Same out here in Penn Hills! I asked my neighbor if they'd tell on me if I "took care of the problem" myself with my bow.

Her response? "Oh, but the deer are so pretty!"

😒 ...


rippletroopers t1_jd8ehnf wrote

Oh you don’t want to eat those deer anyway. The bio accumulation of an herbivore in this town has got to be INTENSE.


Radek_Of_Boktor t1_jd8g687 wrote

Ah, I hadn't thought about that. That's a shame.

I actually didn't know anything about bio accumulation until I was reading about it further in this thread, but in my head I had only applied it to plants.


rippletroopers t1_jd8h4dk wrote

Unfortunately grazers are worse than plants, and predators are worse than grazers. Every time you go up a rung on the food chain it gets worse and worse. It’s yet another reason that the deer population is as outrageously out of control as it is.

Fruit from plants is kinda the only safe thing if you’re growing it in unsafe soil.

It’s tragic what a century of industry has done to the ecology in this region.


fadedrosebud OP t1_jd9gg4y wrote

And what about wasting disease? I'm not really knowledgeable about eating game, but I just get this feeling that it might be polluted and possibly diseased.


PennSaddle t1_jd6k928 wrote

I’ve asked around Penn Hills before with the same response.


covertchipmunk t1_jd8f683 wrote

The deer situation is dire. I wish someone with the authority to do so would at least start moving towards action. I don't think it's kinder to leave them to starve to death than it would be to cull some of the population, and it's not like they're going to stop reproducing.


Zestyclose_Minute_69 t1_jd6qwfh wrote

I have had the same issues and I’m in Westwood. The deer, rabbits and groundhogs ruined everything I had outside. I want to do some kind of small greenhouse that would protect my stuff. It would have to be cheap. And I like to start composting too.


bambi_beth t1_jd7fc2g wrote

We have the earth machine backyard composer from Pennsylvania Resources Council workshop. It has worked well!


Tako-Jerome t1_jd53f6b wrote

A significant amount of the topsoil in this area is contaminated with lead among other things which is why generally home gardeners are advised to use raised flowerbeds. I'm all for trees, but unfortunately I think this is a dream that we're not eligible for. I suppose we could bring in soil and test but it raises the bar to start.


rippletroopers t1_jd5w2x2 wrote

Fruit trees are still good, leafy greens are what bioaccumulate heavy metals, very rarely do plants put heavy metals in the fruit. Apples, pears, paw paw, would all do well, as well as berries, cherries grapes etc.


johnsonchicklet1993 t1_jd7tgx1 wrote

How fucked is it that the literal earth in our city is contaminated to the point that you might not be able to safely grow your own food in your backyard? We wonder why people think it’s okay to litter so much in our community - well, the literal soil is filled with the garbage that corporations have been spewing into the air for 100+ years. Who is going to pay for that?? (Rhetorical question, because WE are… not the corporations or the crooked politicians who allow the 1% to continue to do business despite showing that they have NO concern for our health and no intention of cleaning up after themselves- Norfolk southern great recent example of this).


dfiler t1_jd9g195 wrote

I think the finger has to be pointed back at ourselves. We as individuals are the ones responsible for driving leaded-gas fueled personal automobiles and painting our houses with lead paint. It's clearly us, the individual citizens, who are to blame. If anything, many people argued against regulations when they were first enacted.

Put simply it isn't big business that put lead into our soil. We don't get to blame someone else for this one.


johnsonchicklet1993 t1_jda7203 wrote

I genuinely can’t tell if this is sarcastic lol. I’m hoping it is.


dfiler t1_jddhk1v wrote

That was genuine, not sarcastic. It is human nature to blame others when we're actually at fault ourselves. Big business didn't put the lead paint in the soil of my yard. If we're going to find someone to blame, it would have to be everyone from previous generations, not just rich/powerful people.


fadedrosebud OP t1_jd54k1n wrote

I can imagine how polluted the soil is here, that’s sad.


BackmarkerLife t1_jd5uxgq wrote

Don't sunflowers help extract heavy metals from the soil?


Yomama-22 t1_jd6m4dd wrote

We just need to plant 900 gazillion sunflowers.


TheSunflowerSeeds t1_jd6m57u wrote

We know sunflowers are inspirational plants, even to famous painters. Vincent Van Gogh loved sunflowers so much, he created a famous series of paintings, simply called ‘sunflowers’.


RockySpineButt t1_jd5gq1l wrote

Agree. So many crops bioaccumulate the bad stuff. More people need to be cognizant of this. Do soil tests!!!!!


BillyEnzin69 t1_jd4rq84 wrote

I’m all for it, but it’s easier said than done. Investing in community vegetable gardens or community orchards, or berry patches is a much better and more feasible option than having apple trees as street trees.


Aggravating_Foot_528 t1_jd4ha6v wrote

2 paw paw tree on every corner


enemy_of_your_enema t1_jd4r1ah wrote

So people can eat pawpaws for the one week of the year when ripe pawpaws exist?


Aggravating_Foot_528 t1_jd4sd6q wrote



enemy_of_your_enema t1_jd4tamu wrote

That would be nice, but they aren't really good shade trees. I just wish they would get more pawpaws to grow close to trails in the parks. That one pawpaw patch in Schenley Park gets absolutely looted every September and people have to tramp through the undergrowth to get there, which isn't great for the ecosystem.


critzboombah t1_jd5opgz wrote

Hello! Let me introduce you to this incredible, new invention! I like to call it a Freezer!


the_victorian640 t1_jd523nq wrote

Trees yes, fruit trees no. Not only is urban farming terribly inefficient, and the fact that fruit trees need constant upkeep and a ton of times to produce any fruit at all, but they also attract animals. It's a much better use of resources to fund more local supermarkets to address food deserts, and plant more regular urban trees separate.


tdarg t1_jd5d3ro wrote

Agreed. And anything other than trees for food...fruit bushes, etc. are much better bang for buck. Fruit trees get diseases easily


tdarg t1_jd5d4om wrote

Agreed. And anything other than trees for food...fruit bushes, etc. are much better bang for buck. Fruit trees get diseases easily.


[deleted] t1_jd7198t wrote

Oh yeah, where the food gets trucked in from halfway across the planet and costs too much because of corporations inflating prices. Sounds like a great thing for the poor, good job, I'm surprised nobody thought of this already! I definitely don't want my neighborhood dirtied up with animals and poor people picking apples.


enemy_of_your_enema t1_jd4qzia wrote

I like the idea of planting more trees. We have a great tree canopy here but many neighborhoods lack enough trees. But I am really skeptical that this would have a measurable impact on hunger. I think there's a reason that the article spent virtually zero time talking about this angle.

Foraging/harvesting is work and if someone is struggling to feed their family, they are already likely time-poor, so telling them to go do some unpaid labor seems unhelpful.

Also, wouldn't there be a ton of produce that gets eaten by wildlife or just falls on the ground and rots, whereas if you had an actual orchard with staff who knew when and how to harvest food, you'd have less waste?

And then there's the issue of the food only being available for a very limited time each year.


fadedrosebud OP t1_jd4yt3v wrote

You make some valid points, but like most ideas that offer solutions to multiple problems, food forests are more helpful for some problems than others. The amount of edible produce available wouldn't solve a city's hunger problem, but it's better than a barren landscape that does nothing. As the article states "before the pandemic Dunbar Spring held annual community-wide milling events, in which pods harvested from the hundreds of mesquite trees in the neighborhood were ground into flour – giving them a year’s supply of flour."

More importantly, the neighborhood described benefited from a whopping 38 degree difference in temperature which is enough to justify the whole project IMO. And the plantings help absorb and mitigate storm run-off.


Grouchy-Estimate-756 t1_jd5pw28 wrote

I'm totally down for food forests, edible stuff growing everywhere but I'm not sure we need more shade, here. We're not exactly in danger of desertification. I think the temperature difference is a poor argument for this area. Stick to the better selling points, like fruit, food and general air quality.


Jazzlike_Breadfruit9 t1_jd6yxj2 wrote

On a super hot day this summer, go to The Strip that lacks lots of trees and vegetation. Then go to Allegheny Cemetery and feel the temperature difference. It is staggering.


fadedrosebud OP t1_jd9ho8v wrote

Exactly! Maybe our hot weather doesn't compare to Tuscon's but it still gets uncomfortable and causes heavy energy use for air conditioning. Look at neighborhoods like Squirrel Hill or Point Breeze for example where almost every residential street has long-established shade trees. Then look at Morningside which is also a generally pleasant neighborhood but has a sparse tree canopy making it feel not as nice.


Grouchy-Estimate-756 t1_jd8idax wrote

I hear you. I moved here from Texas, where we had months of temperatures that only happen for a week at best, in Pittsburgh. I'm also not out in shorts in 40 degree weather so my take on it is really pretty subjective.


covertchipmunk t1_jd8fukv wrote

Tree Pittsburgh has a map showing tree cover in the various neighborhoods. I think there's a newer map but this page has info from 2012. The "2012 State of the Urban Forest" has a lot of the data on tree cover in various neighborhoods.

2012 Tree Pgh urban forest master plan


Grouchy-Estimate-756 t1_jd8it2e wrote

To be clear, I'm a huge fan of all the trees here, and we should definitely plant more. I'm just not personally moved by the issue of it being too hot in the summer.


fadedrosebud OP t1_jd4za15 wrote

And, like any carefully thought out planting, plants would be picked with a variety of harvest times, so it wouldn't be a very limited time each year.


13thsoliloquy t1_jd5ri65 wrote

We need to participate in the ones that exist that's a start.....


kimbecile t1_jd4jpe6 wrote

I got a whole hillside. Feel free to clear it and plant some corn.


Jazzlike_Breadfruit9 t1_jd4ojx5 wrote

You’re asking for a landslide if you want to clear all the current vegetation and replace it with corn.


kimbecile t1_jd4xkje wrote

Don't worry. They arent gonna take me up on the offer.


Satevis_ t1_jd5xkvb wrote

I would suggest looking into taking a Permaculture Design Certification course offered by the Garfield Urban Farm, or at least check out what they've done there. It's very inspiring, and they have the knowledge and resources to help one take small steps towards sustainability in your own space.


Willowgirl2 t1_jd61hfn wrote

Wild black raspberries do very well here without any care. In fact, I spent years trying to eradicate them from my old property, lol.


fadedrosebud OP t1_jd9ipjq wrote

It seems like many people are taking the approach that if an idea doesn't totally solve all aspects of a problem it's no good. Like the old saying, "don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good." Urban food forests aren't going to be perfect, but they could contribute in many ways and are cheaper and more practical than some other solutions.


ticketferret t1_jd5gc6v wrote

Southside has a community garden that’s open to all!


transexodus t1_jd95hlo wrote

Really frustrating to see people commenting about "what about the wildlife?!" as though animals don't also exist in this world and need to eat? I totally understand the issue of deer overgrazing, especially in the parks. It's a big problem. But another big problem is this anthropocentric worldview that doesn't take into account the multitude of other living things that also your neighbors. When humans take away green space for development, the wildlife are left with nowhere else to go but your backyards and nothing else to eat but what's growing there.

I totally support more food forests for everyone, human and non-human alike


kimbecile t1_jd4jmqb wrote

I got a whole hillside. Feel free to clear it and plant some corn


AngryDrnkBureaucrat t1_jd7smwb wrote

Deer are food.

There are deer in any patch of trees larger than 2,000 square feet.

We already have an overabundance of urban food forests in Pittsburgh.


AMcMahon1 t1_jd4a2ei wrote

Trees left unchecked create massive problems for infrastructure

I agree with the point but there's not much room for them downtown


GelatinousPiss t1_jd7xzpp wrote

Sounds like a meme. Maybe nice to bring the community together or something, but it's not going to solve any problems here.