Why would a New Yorker plan a trip to Pittsburgh for a winter weekend escape? The kernel of the idea was the South Side Soup Contest taking place February 16th, 2018.The South Side is a formerly industrial area across the Monongahela River from downtown Pittsburgh.The soup contest unites this diverse, creative community to raise money for a neighborhood food bank. Many of the dozens of cafes and restaurants participating in the contest are on East Carson Street which is a historic district and one of the longest Victorian main streets in the U.S. (The Picture above by Dave Decillo depicts the Rachel Carson Bridge in Pittsburgh.)
Sampling a variety of warm, tasty soup on a cold winter day in a cool neighborhood while meeting the local denizens and craftspeople, AND, helping the hungry, how could we not go?
Photo of a previous South Side Soup Contest in Pittsburgh
Before partaking the many culinary delights awaiting us at the soup contest, we plan to hike the South Side riverfront trails and meander through the South Shore Riverfront Park while enjoying the views of the city.
While in Pittsburgh, we plan to check out the future site of the Hilltop Urban Farm, which is also on the South Side. Upon completion, Hilltop will be America's largest urban farm. This community-driven project is on the site of a former housing project that was torn down. In addition to 23 acres of farmland with a CSA and youth farm, there will be a farmers' market building, event barn, fruit orchards, green spaces, and education center.
Picture of Churchview Farm, Pittsburgh
USG also wants to meet Tara Rockacy, the "queen bee" at Churchview Farm, a third generation, sustainable family farmette in Pittsburgh. As my grandmother used to say, Tara is "right up my alley." She harvests fruits, berries and more than 250 varieties of heirloom produce. Churchview is also home to pasture-raised laying hens, ducks, guinea hens, dairy goats and an apiary offering seasonal raw honey. Tara emphasizes an open door policy which allows volunteers, CSA workshares and interns to take part in the farm’s activities.
There's an abundance of inspiring life happening in Pittsburgh. It's only an approximate 6 hour drive from New York City, offering a great getaway idea for a long weekend. When we're there, we also plan to walk over the Rachel Carson Bridge, named after one of America's greatest environmental writers and advocates. Rachel grew up on a farm outside of Pittsburgh. By writing "Silent Spring", warning us about the dangers of herbicides and pesticides, she helped galvanize the forces of sustainable, organic farming stirring today.
See you soon Pittsburgh!
Copyright Paul E McGinniss 2017