Urban Ag Working Group

The Urban Agriculture (UA) Working Group’s goal is to influence policies and programs that help people to grow, share, and sell healthy food in urban settings. This group also coordinates a Immigrant and Refugee Farming and Food Access sub-committee that works to promote fair and equitable farming and food policies specifically for our immigrant and refugee neighbors.

This group focuses on food growing opportunities and addressing issues of:

  • Agriculture as a “highest and best use” of vacant lots, providing access to resources to support urban farming

  • Providing long-term protection for urban agricultural land

  • Fostering environmental sustainability measures such as composting and soil health

  • Educating the public on urban agriculture zoning code regulations and processes


Urban Ag working group is currently led by Dana Harris Yates, a Black Urban Gardeners and Farmers of Pittsburgh Coop (BUGS) member, founder of the Indigenous Farmers Aboriginal Alliance and owner of Cultural Oasis, LLC and Jon Burgess, Policy Director and Urban Agriculture Program Lead at the Allegheny County Conservation District.

Other active members include: The Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture, the Hilltop Urban Farm, Sankofa Village Community Garden, Grow Pittsburgh, Penn State Extension, BUGS, National Young Farmers Coalition, Allegheny County Conservation District, Trellis Legal, Manchester Growing Together Farm, the Hazelwood Urban Ag Team, the East End Food Coop and Phipps Homegrown.

Your Urban Ag Working Group Project Manager is Karlin Lamberto. She can be reached at Karlin@pittsburghfoodpolicy.org

Current Projects:

  • Farm-A-Lot- Worked hand in hand with the URA to develop this program which functions to allow residents to get access to URA land for farm projects. The Urban Ag working group continues to support the URA as they develop the details and use agreements for this project. Spring 2019 should be a pilot year implementation. Critical partners in this work include the Allegheny County Conservation District, Grow Pittsburgh, the Hilltop Urban Farm, Trellis Legal, Penn State Extension.

  • Farmer Conditions Report- Using national, regional and local data to produce a Farmer Conditions Report for the purpose of framing our local challenges in a larger context. This report should be complete in the Spring of 2019. This work is led by the Allegheny County Conservation District, Penn State Extension and Productive Spaces.

  • Urban Growers Scholarship Fund- Created fund that was seeded with proceeds from the 2018 Pittsburgh Urban Farm Tour which was organized by the East End Food Coop in collaboration with the Pittsburgh Food Policy Council and the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture. This fund has been designed to increase access for urban growers to professional development opportunities. Eligible expenses include relevant conferences, workshops, trainings, and/or the associated travel costs to these opportunities. Applicants will apply to the Urban Agriculture Working Group (UAWG) for scholarship funds through the Pittsburgh Food Policy Council (PFPC) website. Urban growers that are interested in applying for scholarship funds can do so here.

  • PA Department of Agricultural Urban Agriculture Advisory Committee-Several
    working group members as well as the working group coordinator sit on the Urban Ag Advisory Committee to the Secretary of Agriculture. This statewide body advises the Secretary on urban ag policy priorities across the Commonwealth.


Past Projects:

  • 2017 Community Engagement events- Planned and carried out quarterly community engagement events at locations throughout the City. Event topics were centered on policy priorities that were identified by the working group members and previous community
    outreach. They were; soil contamination and health, land access, compost and financial resources for farms and gardens.

  • Pittsburgh Land Bank Policies and Procedures document development- Working group members participated in the public process used to inform the draft document. Once drafted, the working group provided a few rounds of comments on the document with the specific aims of securing green space as a priority of the Land Bank, crafting a transparent and fair appeals process and ensuring that equity and community voices are prioritized by the Land Bank procedures.

  • Climate Action Plan- Working group members participated in a number of  visioning and scoping meetings for the Climate Action Plan. Once drafted, members provided several rounds of comments, specifically on the Food chapter of the draft Climate Action Plan.

  • City of Pittsburgh Urban Agriculture Zoning Code- The working group worked in conjunction with the City to revise and update the Urban Ag Zoning Code to result in one of the most progressive urban ag zoning codes in the Nation permitting chickens, bees and goats on private, urban lots.