Category Archives: Sustainable Living

We’re Headed to the Annual PASA Conference!

This weekend the women of Healcrest are headed to State College for the 24th Annual PASA Conference! pasa_logo5

PASA is the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture. If you want to know something about sustainable agriculture in Pennsylvania, they are your people!

The Farming for the Future Conference is a wonderful gathering of farmers, farming advocates, lobbyists, and generally interested parties.

226ea6ec-29b9-46ac-8fe1-12b35f9493ab As usual there are wonderful, inspiring keynote speakers. This year I am very excited to hear Frances Moore Lappe speak. She is the author of Diet for a Small Planet among other books examining and discussing our food system.

We have participated in the conference before but this will be the first year that Healcrest as gone as vendors as well. This year we are taking our delicious Tea, Tisane, and Herbal Ice-Pops to share with conference participants.

This event is so inspiring and a great place to connect with others of like minds. If you’ve never gone to this conference but you love sustainable agriculture I encourage you to go some time.The weekend is full of wonderful workshops from soil health to law & policy; from cover-cropping to creating an urban buying club. There is something for everyone at this conference!

We are looking forward to it and I know we will come back with wonderful things to share and grow from!


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Filed under Events, Sustainable Living

Healcrest CSA Pick-Up at 52nd Street Market!

Hello Friends,

It’s nice to be back on the Blog after a little Harvest Hiatus.

As winter is certainly upon us we are excited to announce that Monthly CSA Pick-Up will be at 52nd Street Market at 601 52nd St, Pittsburgh, PA 15201, beginning today Monday Dec 1. 5-7pm.

We’re sure you’re going to enjoy the harvest classics we’re bringing you today!

Dora and Dierdre of 52nd Street Market are sharing their cozy, warm market with us once a month so we can offer a comfortable space for our CSA members to pick-up their goodies.

In months to come, along with market directors, we will bring you samples, extra goodies, and more!

Today Dana will have some extra goodies for CSA members available for purchase and we invite anyone to come out and shop for individual Tea Boxes, Packs of Pops, and Harvest Apple and Pear Lavender Butters!!

See You at the Market!

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Filed under CSA Subscription, Pittsburgh, Sustainable Living

Late Summer Dinner at Healcrest with Grit & Grace

On September 7th 2014 at Healcrest Urban Farm located in Garfield,  Blue Collar will host its first ever participatory dinner in Pittsburgh.  The idea is simple. An all volunteer driven dinner to raise funds for groups trying to further the values of independence and hard work held so dearly by the denizens of our magnificent city. The dinner will be a three course dinner with drinks provided. Each guest will be provided 4 tokens representing 25% of their total donation. During the evgg_logoent each group will give an in depth performance showcasing their mission in Pittsburgh. At the end of the dinner the guests will give their tokens to the groups that they value the most. The chef for this particular dinner is chef de cuisine Curtis gamble of grit and grace and former executive chef at bread and wine in Chicago IL..
LOGOhealcrest2013_wholeHEALCREST URBAN FARM – Healcrest Urban Farm  is a women-owned urban farm and social enterprise business.   Through nurturing  abandoned urban land we empower all people to reclaim, restore and sustain our collective knowledge and health.  We grow culinary and medicinal herbs, creating an oasis of wild and cultivated plants, using our platform  in the community to offer education on food, health, and healing.  We hand blend our herbs with local seasonal fruit creating supportive tea blends and delicious ice pops that we call Tea Pops, a vehicle to open everyone to the power of herbal medicine.  Healcrest is a place of healing- both the land and ourselves.
GIRLS ROCK PGH -Girls rock pgh -Girls Rock! Pittsburgh is an empowerment program for female youths of all definitions, abilities and backgrounds. Girls Rock! Pittsburgh utilizes the process of making music to instill tools for amplifying self-confidence, creative expression, independent thinking, mutual respect and cooperation, while cultivating a supportive and inclusive community of peers and mentors. Girls Rock! Pittsburgh is committed to community awareness and social agency, fostering a network of role models for the endeavors of girls and women that promote social change amongst its diverse participants. Girls can play any kind of music they want. Creative voices of girls and women need to be amplified to create social change. Girls need positive role models and support for their creative endeavors. We can build a community where girls support each other rather than tear each other down. We can empower girls to recognize, understand, and respond to discrimination. “Girls Rock” is more than just a slogan.
HOMESTEAD BOYS CHOIR – AAMI Boys’ Choir, a positive community-based alternative, enables its members to experience 2822504the richness and excitement of creative expression. The benefits gained by the youth are discipline, confidence, motivation and the continual building of their self-esteem.  Additionally, the choir prepares members to be productive individuals allowing them to believe in themselves and their potential.  They learn the value of friendship and the importance of respecting self and others.
JH Logo 528w 300
Founded in 1986, Just Harvest works in Allegheny County to change the unjust public policies that create hunger and poverty. Just Harvest is a membership-based non-profit organization that is mobilizing our community, connecting people to public benefits, and advocating for a stronger anti-poverty safety net, with the aim of economic justice for all.

You can register & choose your level of giving, for the

Late Summer Dinner@ Healcrest Urban Farm 

by heading to our events page 



Filed under Events, local food, Pittsburgh, Sustainable Living, Volunteer

A Rainy Day Photo Shoot!

By Michelle Soto

Meg and I thought we could use this rainy day to our advantage and show some photos of our muscle powered tools that we use to create the gardens.  As we were planning and budgeting to create new gardens and revitalize more green spaces at Healcrest, we made a decision to not rent heavy gas powered machinery and to invest in quality earth moving tools that we can use for years to come.

We still use lawn mowers for grass cutting, but pretty much everything else up at the farm is a hand tool.  This definitely increases the time and energy it takes to build a garden bed, but the finished products are high quality beds that will be around for years to come, completely free of knotweed roots, rocks, and anything else that might impede the growing process.

We’ve found that the beds that we built last year have needed a few wheelbarrows of compost of them and some leaf mulch in the aisles, but are free of invasive weeds.  The hard pan clay that is just right under our top soil was turned with compost last year and has matured into a dark rich layer of soil, perfect for growing.

Planting into these beds will continue for a few more weeks! Official volunteer days are on Sundays from 11-4.  We won’t make you jump on a broad fork for you can help some baby seedlings find a good home!

Michelle loves to use the little digging fork to turn earth

Meg attacks knotweed, clearing a new path through the woods

Michelle jumps on the broad fork, using all her body weight!

Meg is shifting soil with the brand new shifter that Suzy built or the farm

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Filed under Events, Gardening, organic farming, organic gardening, Pittsburgh, Sustainable Living, Urban Farming, Volunteer

Spring Has Sprung at Healcrest Urban Farm!


Whew! Spring has sprung and we are seeing the evidence of that all over the farm!

The daffodils are in full bloom, the forsythia has one whole garden in a wash of yellow, the hawthorns are budding out the cutest little leaves, and our perennials are coming back from the intense winter hibernation we were all in.

046Meg and Michelle have been busy tilling the ground in several gardens to get beds ready for the hundreds of plants we have started inside.  Many herblings are more delicate than vegetable starts so we’ll wait till after the last frost to plant outside.

IMG_2791We are orienting garden beds differently this year in one garden and are breaking ground the what we used to call “the knotweed field”.  Although it does have medicinal qualities: the knotweed root contains high amounts of resveratrol- the feel good chemical in red wine, we are striving to eradicate our pristine piece of land from this invasive creature.  Slowly, but surely.

IMG_2789Suzy has built a rain barrel system to catch rainwater off the roof of our shed so that we can water everything grown on the farm with water collected from the farm.




As usual, the chickens have the run of a garden during the day to dust bathe and sun themselves.


We will post soon about upcoming classes and volunteer days!  Here’s to spring!

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Filed under Gardening, organic farming, organic gardening, Sustainable Living, Urban Farming

Night Market FUN!

We had a wonderful time vending at the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust Bridge Party last Friday! It was so busy, full of people, music, and of course The DUCKY!


AND we are looking forward to the Garfield Night Market this Friday! Join us for a delicious line up of food trucks, local artisans, beautiful ambiance, amidst the Garfield First Friday Gallery Crawl!



Come visit us for some of the last TeaPops of the season! We will also have hot tea by the cup and tea by the box!

Flavors this Week

  • Apple Saucy Goddess
  • Chunky Peach + Calendula
  • Pear Lavender
  • Plum Chai
  • Peaches & Basil Cream


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Filed under Events, local food, market, Pittsburgh, Sustainable Living, Tea-pop Shop

Fermentation Basics with Natalya

Fermentation Basics with Natalya

New Class Coming in September!

We loved Natalya’s Fermentation class. A great mix of academics and adventure!

Pickles, kefir, and sourdough, fermentation was a taste explosion for the food daring! Natalya provided simple home kitchen techniques for delicious preservation.

We’re looking forward to continuing this food exploration in September, dates TBA. Stay posted!

Register for classes here at or contact

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August 15, 2013 · 6:15 am

Composting in the City: How, What, Where, and Why!

Composting in the City: How, What, Where, and Why!

Where does all your food waste go? Would you rather have it be beneficial waste instead? In this workshop you will be introduced to a few easy methods for turning food scraps into soil, or composting, in dense spaces.

Whether you have a huge yard or none at all you will go home with a method or modified method that will work for you. We will explore bin, trench, and vermi-compost. You will also have the opportunity to take part in our Healcrest Compost program, where your waste is our treasure.

Dana Launius will share her experience and love of sustainable living in this fun and educational series. Simple techniques for a waste-resource lifestyle. Each participant will leave with some materials to get their compost started or enhanced! Bring water to drink and come prepared to get icky!

Join us at Healcrest Urban Farm Aug 20th – Tues 6:30 at 5200 Hillcrest St. Garfield. Register here at or contact Cost: $10

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August 14, 2013 · 4:21 pm

Orchards and Flowers Budding::Happy Earth Day

Orchards and Flowers Budding::Happy Earth Day

Healcrest is literally Springing to Life! Thanks to help of dedicated helping hands who love getting their hands a little dirty and tending to the soil and plants.

Buds, Bees, Birds, Blossoms! We’re lovin’ life, enjoying the spring showers of rain, help, motivation, creativity, and abundance! More Here

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April 22, 2013 · 7:06 pm

Gettin’ Organized!!

Gettin' Organized!!

We have a great crew this season! It is wonderful to have several dedicated and miipassioned interns and partners.

Our little collective is getting a lot accomplished and getting everything ready for an abundant 2013!

WELCOME Cat, Rachel, Michelle, Meg, Dana, Natalya, Buggy, and welcome back Jen and John for another great season!

With even more people contacting us with interest, we are excited for this new surge in energy…synergy!

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April 8, 2013 · 10:36 pm