Tag Archives: local food

ANNOUNCING! The Healcrest Urban Farm Tea-pop Shop!

ANNOUNCING! The Healcrest Tea-pop Shop!

ImageLast year Maria Graziani had an inspired idea, what if we combine tea, herbs, fruit, berries, and delicious sweetness in a frozen treat. After some tasty and not-so tasty experimentation Healcrest tea-pops were created. With growing interest in healthy treats, artisanal food, and locally grown produce, things we love in great quantities at Healcrest, we thought what a wonderful novelty item for Pittsburghers to enjoy this coming summer.

Well, WE DID IT!

ImageWe are ecstatic and elated to announce the arrival of the Healcrest Urban Farm cold-plate push cart! With the help from friends and supporters at Awesome Pittsburgh, CatapultPGH and KivaZip Micro-Lending, we made the BIG acquisition. You will recognize it as your standard ice cream or Italian ice cart, locate us by umbrella at your favorite event!

Try all of our seasonal flavors!

Please follow more of this story and watch Healcrest in the NEWS on Pittsburgh’s KDKA and in The Bloomfield-Garfield Bulletin

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Filed under Events, Gardening, local food, organic farming, organic gardening, Pittsburgh, Urban Farming

Kick Starting the Fall Season!!

Ok Peeps! We are super excited over here at Healcrest Urban Farm!

We have brought back to a stronghold, Ms Dana Launius, formerly of Pittsburgh, a women goddess of world travel, sustainable project manager extraordinaire, food systems analyst and well, amazing bellydancer. She has arrived back to us via Portland, Oregon (our sister city) and is offering Burghers a Devi Dancing workshop.

Join us for beautiful breezy late summer Sundays at Healcrest as we dance in the grove under the old apple tree learning the ancient art of Devi dancing, yoga and goddess mythology! Light refreshments are served and you will see the summer sunset as we finish our time. Small tours will be offered if you want to know more about the farm as well.

You have the option of purchasing single classes or the full workshop. The final sunday, September 25th we will have an ending celebration, dancing and food – and hopefully a special performance by Dana herself – to inspire us to continue our beautiful goddess movements.

So here is an easy quick button if you would like to purchase online. Secure payments made though paypal and go directly to support the work of Healcrest Urban Farm!

Devi Dancing
Workshop 1, Sept. 4 $10.00
Workshop 2, Sept. 11 $10.00
Workshop 3, Sept. 18 $10.00
Workshop 4, Sept 25 w/celebration $12.00
Full Series $35.00
Full Series (student price) $30.00

**You can add a special message to let us know which workshop you are taking… Thank you!

Ok and even bigger news!!!

We are starting a Kickstarter Campaign on September 19th! Kickstarter is an online forum to match creative projects with angel investors! We are building a processing facility and classroom at Healcrest and your donation will be key.


  1. We must reach our goal of $20,000 to receive any funding
  2. You can donate anything between $1-$20,000
  3. We can exceed our goal!
  4. You must pledge your support within timeframe/deadline
  5. Supporting begins on September 19th
  6. We will let you know when funding begins and give you the link directly to back us! There will be a great video on our project, pictures, images of our construction and site, etc…everything to show you the outcomes of our project

All backers funding over $100 will receive gifts for their support!

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Filed under Belly Dancing, Devi dancing, Gardening, kickstarter, local food, organic farming, organic gardening, Pittsburgh, Urban Farming, Women of Color, yoga

Beautiful Burgh Summer

 Greetings followers!

Its been an amazing journey in July with high temps, electrifying thunderstorms, sunshine tanning our skin and growing our plants up tall. The farm feels amazing – like you have stepped out of the City of Pgh and into a grotto of earthly delights – big flapping butterflies, crickets chirping, bees buzzing, flowers in blooms, grass soft under your feet, apples growing, berries sweetening! Oh we are certainly relishing in the summer months knowing here that soon enough we will cycle back through to our winter cold!

We are having an entire weekend of volunteer opportunity at Healcrest. Join us on Saturday or Sunday (July 30-31st) from 9am-12noon for general garden work. We are re-seeding some raised beds and the greenhouse, harvesting medicinal herbs and general garden bed maintenance. Its an easy three hours and we finish in time for trips to pool or finding cool rest in a shady spot.

Here is the RSVP form….please complete if you think there is a STRONG POSSIBILITY you will be coming this weekend!

For those interested permaculture, biodynamic farming and general eco-spaces, Healcrest is beginning to define itself as a Food Forest and a permaculture site. We have always been apt to allow nature to work its magic-  keeping tree lines growing, incorporating wild, northeast herbs into food beds and pairing fruit & nut trees with the general landscape. We are not your traditional raised beds, straight rows, bare spaces – we are an ecosystem in the city, a place of green life.  That said, we invite nature enthusiasts to visit us and share in the development of our natural resources.

Here is a link to the Permaculture Institute. They give a great description of Permaculture Food Forests and you can get a better sense of what we work towards here everyday at Healcrest.


In fact, here is a list they generated for plants in the permaculture food forest garden. I starred off what we have here at Healcrest:

Daylilies        **                                 Lemon Balm Melissa    **

Alfalfa                                                  Egyptian onion         ** (we have a heirloom German variety)

Walking onion **                            Chives  **

Strawberry   **                                Raspberry  **

Red  Clover  **                                 Stinging nettle **

Clary Sage                                          Garden Sage  **

Purple Sage  **                                 Rhubarb **

Hairy Vetch **                                 Ox eye Daisy (Black-eyed Susans & Garden white daisies) **

Oregano  **                                        Siberian Pea Shrub

False Indigo Bush                            Lovage **

Mullein **                                           Valerian

Echinacea **                                     Lavender **

Yarrow **                                          Anise (Chocolate, Mountain & Spear) Mint

Cherry (shrub and tree)               Pears, Plums, and Peach trees **

Apple **                                             Apricot

Mulberry, black  **                       Hops, kiwi vines

Grapes (wild and cultivated) **

Black Walnut **                              Blackberry brambles

As you can see, we are well on our way to permaculture, biodynamic, conservation space. Healcrest must continue to grow and develop as the City of PIttsburgh grows and develops. As houses go up around us, and young people fight the economic slump and stay in this great city- preserving an active, natural and healing green space will be asset to not only property values, but to the health & wellness of community. This is our mission. We are working to be a part of economic & community growth – not an opposition to it.  Read on fans & followers, support and grow with us!

Of course, fans, some pics….for inspiration….we hope we see you tomorrow or Sunday!

The berry/herb garden...lavender, rasberries, blackberries, sage, Greek oregano...


Volunteer at work w/ greenhouse in the distance


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Fresh Fare

We are starting to see a real abundance here at Healcrest. The greenhouse has produced deliciously sweet and crisp green peas, a lovely arugula and mesclun lettuce mix, dinosaur kale (that has now become kale chips) and really good-sized red beets, italian flat parsley and genovese basil – yum. With these beauties you can make an amazing pesto, blanched and seasoned kale (or the kale chips), steam beets or borscht and have an amazing salad on the side.


My little helper has been doing an amazing job on our rasberry bushes. He has learned to pick the big red ripe ones and fill his belly. And when he tires of that, he finds the bucket I am dropping my picks into, and I find 1/4 of the bucket gone! Amazing he hasn’t turned into a rasberry by now!

So the farm at this time is a ton of work. The rain/sun combo makes it a lush jungle here  – hard to believe we are smack in the east end of a major metro area. But with years now of planting herb and food seeds, we get enormous growth. Everything from bamboo, to mugwort, roses, chaste-tree, comfrey, columbines, apple trees, grapevines, mullein, bee balms, oak and maples, mulberry trees, blackberry vines – well we are in abundance but often fighting back the growth! The birds are in abundance, we see hawks and falcons, we have ground animals to keep out, snakes, worms, bunnies and deer. It was my dream to make this place a haven of nature, a sanctuary in the midst of the city. It is becoming that each year!

I am in great need of an arborist. So if anyone out there knows or is one, willing to donate some time to our urban farming endeavors – please contact us here by making a comment – or through our website – www.healcrest.com. We have an old apple tree that needs

Kale, basil, parsley

some major love and by the time it stops fruiting, I want to be prepared to give a major trim. We have new baby apple trees sprouting and our older-timer needs to share some space (and produce on some lower limbs – so we can actually reach the apples!!!)

So here are some great pics of our produce and other joyous times on the farm. Tomatoes, squash, okra, beets, asparagus, peppers are all following soon (you should see them in the late July/August post)

Like always, families, gardeners, and fellow Pgh neighbors are welcome to volunteer! Subscribe to this blog and you will get that automatic inspiration!

Any WWOOFers out there as well who want to rough it in Pgh – we have plenty of flat space for camping and could use the helping hands.

Aba & I are working on the garden fence!


Peas are yummy!

Organic rasberries fresh from the urban farm!

Raw Kale chips - crisp from the dehydrator!

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Filed under Gardening, local food, organic farming, organic gardening, Pittsburgh, Urban Farming

Volunteer Giveaway will leave you Breathless!!!

So local growing is in the height of its busy time, getting seedlings in the ground, starting new seedlings, keeping the plants watered, planting new fruit trees, clearing new garden spaces, weeding, nourishing and finally…. picking – herbs, strawberries, rasberries and soon greens!!

We want all those who have been interested in volunteering to fulfill that promise to themselves and get out to their local urban east-end Healcrest Urban Farm and spend 2 hours supporting local food – and enjoying the beautiful land, the butterflies nesting in the milkweed, the blooming lavender, the warm sun on their skin!! So many benefits to spending time here.

So here it goes………..

The first person to contact me via email and schedule their two hour volunteer time will win this super squeaky clean gift basket of handmade, all-natural, super delicious soaps made from the hands of Breathless Beauty!!

Dawn, of Breathless Beauty is an avid handmade artisan and has been making soaps, butters, and so much more for the past 11 years! She makes all the soaps in small batches, using the finest carrier oils, herbs for medicinal value, and high quality essential oils for a soap that will be nutrient, cleansing and make you smell amazing!

This basket is filled with 5 great full-size bars:

Real Momma Times – infused with a healing herb mix fenugreek, anise seed, blessed thistle, nettle leaf and marshmallow root, great for mamas of all kinds!

Soft Skin Please –  olive oil, coconut oil,  cocoa butter, comfrey root powder and essential oils.

Walnut Brownie – cocoa powder and crused walnut shells in a pure olive oil base

Cloveberry – essential oil of clove mingles with exfoliating strawberry seeds and a wonderful vegetable soap base

Sq-uean Shampoo Bar – carrot infused with rosemary

By the way…you can find Breathless Beauty at www.breathlessbeauty.net and take care of all your sudsy needs!

This basket retails at $29.50 – so its like getting paid to do your volunteer work! Pretty nice deal!

So back to how you get this basket:

Email us at healcresturbanfarm@gmail.com

Tell us which volunteer slot you would like:

Saturday, June 5th at 12noon-2pm -yes that is tomorrow!! If you pick this one you can come to a free event at Healcrest too – double wammie!!

Thursday, June 10th at 5:30-7:30pm

Sunday June 13th 9:30-11:30am

And finally – show up for volunteer slot and the basket will be waiting for you…Along with the work!!

We look forward to receiving your responses and if you don’t win…I won’t let you now until you get here! (But we will have fresh rasberries and herbs and cool water as a consolation prize!!!!)




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Seedlings are growing like crazy and the season has really begun. We have a great spring weather here – a nice mix of rain, a little chill, some very warm sunny days and everything has started to sprout! Lavender and sage are budding for the season and we picked our first harvest of asparagus – oh so sweet and crunchy!Today’s adventures include showing our dear friend Niko Gomez, constructor extraordinaire, the plans for the green house endwalls. He will help us finish our 40’x17′ hoophouse off with enclosed, double-door walls so that we don’t have plastic ends – and more for the local kids to have fun ripping to shreds! The perils of urban growing….

Also our beloved community farmer here for his 2nd year of growing, Jahques, helped dig out a new flower bed and cover up some knotweed. The best part though is that while he was swinging that pic-axe my 6 month old son, Negus, gave us 5 solid minutes of belly laughing, as that was the funniest thing to him!!! So we are on our way with springtime preparations and ready for our 5th year of urban farm fun!

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We are starting our seedlings in the indoor, mini greenhouse at Fort Pitt Elementary. We are looking forward to a partnership with Garfield Community Farm in working with the students. Healcrest has designed a basic curriculum support for the Fort Pitt teachers and John, Kelly (Garfield Farms) and myself will be caring for the plants and supporting the teachers, where needed.

We will be growing food centered around the Caribbean, Africa, Mediterranean and Asia and the list will include:

Okra, Calaloo, Purple Carrots, Asian Cabbage, Jalapeno’s, Mountain Pepper, Long Peppers, Tomatoes of several heirloom varieties, Collard, Kale, Onions, Fennel, Asparagus, green beans,

We also will be growing our culinary herbs:

Sage, thyme, oregano, rosemary, parsley, horseradish, spearmint, peppermint

And don’t forget the medicinals………….

lavender, mugwort, motherwort, bee balm, lemon balm, calendula, netttles, rasberry and blackberry leaf, red clover, red roses, nightshades, borage, hydrangea and some others I cant think of right now!!!

Finally – never finally but for now…….

We are planting an orchard this year so please come volunteer and help us out with our new apple and plum trees, grape vine, strawberry plants

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