Community Sunflower Harvest in Homewood

This past Saturday beneath the shadow of an old warehouse that advertises, “We Buy Aluminum & Cans, Copper, Brass” old and new converged as all 11,000 square feet of Pittsburgh’s largest sunflower garden in a community were harvested by over 150 volunteers in the Homewood on Frankstown Avenue and Collier Street.

The volunteer group was made up of individuals from Operation Better Block  (OBB), The University of Pittsburgh’s Jumpstart program, which is a national early childhood literacy program that trains and prepares college students to mentor preschool aged children, and GTECH.

Many of the volunteers had strong ties to the Homewood community. Jennifer Young, a Jumpstart participant and Pitt student studying elementary education, reads to  children from the Homewood community about 12 hours per week. Young says that she came out to volunteer today, “to give back to the community that I serve in. ”

The Junior Green Corp. is a program run by OBB and currently employs 20 youth ranging from 14-18 years old.  Amira Crosby, a 10th grader serving and current Junior Green Corp member, helped with the planting of the flowers this past spring; she was amazed to see all the sunflowers that grew over the summer.

“I really like the environment,” says Crosby about joining the Jr. Green Corp. As for the future of this vacant lot and  others, she hopes that “… one day vacant lots in Homewood are turned into a peaceful park where the community can gather. Something with a place to sit and a nice walkway.”

Next spring GTECH hopes to partner again with the Dicks Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon and OBB not only to grow sunflowers, but also cultivate community ideas on how to transform vacant lots into Homewood into something beautiful.

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