There’s something deeper than vegetables growing at Garfield Community Farm. Started in 2008 through the partnership between The Open Door Presbyterian Church and Valley View Presbyterian Church, the three-acre farm has since flourished in its crop yield and connections across community groups, neighbors, congregations, and volunteers. Garfield Community Farm, as well as several smaller gardens in East Liberty and Garfield, serves as a sustainable, organic produce source to local residents as well as a valuable educational tool about urban garden care, harvesting, and accessibility. The farm has also had a CSA since 2010, with which it provides local families with in-season produce on a weekly basis for 20 weeks out of the year.
Jess Sprunger is the current PULSE Fellow serving at Garfield Community Farm and the Pittsburgh Food Policy Council. Jess describes farming as “one of those adventures where you need an understanding of how the farm functions as a whole to know how to best complete the task at hand.” The past few months, she’s been learning about the big picture and vision of farming while simultaneously digging in the dirt and feeding chickens. Jess enjoys her work outdoors and transitioning with the seasons.
Rev. John Creasy is both the Associate pastor at The Open Door Church and director at Garfield Community Farm. In the interview below, he discusses Garfield Community Farm’s partnership with PULSE –one of the many relationships contributing to the farm’s success.
Julia Smucker: Why did your organization decide to work with PULSE?
John Creasy: Garfield Community Farm and The Open Door Church are long standing partners with PULSE and have intersected in many ways for almost ten years. In early 2014 we were approached by the Pittsburgh Food Policy Council about a sharing a PULSE fellow starting in September. Partnering with like-minded and like-missioned organizations has always been an important way for us to best accomplish our goals. We also thought we could provide an internship in food studies that would be extremely diverse, ranging from detailed farm planning and garden care to working on public policy. This was an opportunity we could not pass up.
JS: What do you like most about your current PULSE fellow?
JC: Jessica Sprunger is hard working and has a great attitude. Sometimes farming is great fun and very enjoyable and sometimes it is dirty, smelly and less than enjoyable. Jessica seems to have a holistic vision for the farm and her work and is willing to work through the difficult days to enjoy what is to come in the spring.
JS: How has your partnership with PULSE impacted your organization?
JC: This year we had some unexpected staffing changes. It has been very beneficial to have Jess working with us as we discern our future staffing needs. Without PULSE we could not afford a year-round staff person. Thanks to PULSE we are able to be more consistent in meeting our goals.
JS: What is the most rewarding part of working with PULSE?
JC: In the past, the most rewarding part of having a PULSE intern has been to see a love for farming and ecology develop within the young person working with us. It was rewarding to hear from the fellow how their perspectives on food, the environment, and social justice had changed because of their time working with PULSE and Garfield Farm.
JS: What would you tell other Pittsburgh nonprofits about PULSE?
JC: Because PULSE is an intentionally small organization, they can match your nonprofit up with a very specific fit and stay very involved in the work and development of your year-long intern. Most organizations barely know the young people they are placing. PULSE takes great care in knowing their fellows, working with them throughout the year, and staying connected with the partnering organizations.
Story by PULSE fellow Julia Smucker.