Farmer Incubation Program


Farmer Incubation Program, The Vision

The Farmer Incubation Program (FIP) at Hilltop Urban Farm will be a 3 year workforce development program for new small-scale organic urban farm enterprises. For an annual Program Participation Fee, participants will be provided access to rehabilitated urban farming acres, storage, solar electric, hoop houses, mobile coolers and a shared tool library. Participants will learn farm business management skills and food growing techniques. Program participants will gain exposure to the local and regional food systems by participating in educational programs and networking events. The FIP graduates will develop a business plan, customer base, and have a 3 year-old business to assist with acquiring capital for business expansion. The FIP graduates will be prequalified to rent preserved farmland with nonprofit partners and the Urban Redevelopment Authority of the City of Pittsburgh vacant urban land through the Farm-A-Lot program. Once under full production, FIP farmers at Hilltop Urban Farm will quadruple the amount of produce grown within the City of Pittsburgh.

2019 Pilot program

In 2019, the Farmer Incubation Program is piloting a one-year opportunity for experienced urban farmers to utilize the rehabilitated urban farming acres at Hilltop Urban Farm. In this 2019 Pilot year, participants will have access to site amenities in exchange for a subsidized Program Participation Fee. Throughout 2019, additional infrastructure investments will be made at Hilltop Urban Farm to complete the vision of the Farmer Incubation Program.

the Application DEADLINE for the 2019 Pilot Farmer Incubation Program has CLOSED. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis for the 2020 growing season.

Please submit your completed application for review via email to Sarah Baxendell, Director of Hilltop Urban Farm at with “2020 Farmer Application” in the subject line or by mail addressed to: Sarah Baxendell, Director, Hilltop Urban Farm, Farmer Incubation Program, 831 East Warrington Avenue, Floor 2, Pittsburgh, PA 15210.


Meet the 2019 Pilot Farmers

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Sol Patch Garden, Collette Walsh (cut flowers, 1/4 acre)

“I like thinking about what I do as growing cut flower for the people. I have a background in vegetable production but have switched my direction in recent years to cut flowers. I enjoy growing cut flowers and working with individuals to create tangible beauty that can be enjoyed while using responsible growing practices. I’ll always care about growing food, and want that to be a part of my production again one day. But right now I am focusing my time on investing in space with people, whether that is the physical space I grow my flowers in or via the floral arrangements I work with people to create. By having the opportunity to grow at Hilltop Urban Farm, I will have more flexibility to experiment with different flower varieties in addition to drying more flowers.”

You can find Collette this season at the Bloomfield Saturday Market.

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Bitter Ends Garden, Jason Oddo (mixed vegetables, 1.5 acres)

“For 2019, I have decided to increase production so that I can provide more residents and restaurants with quality specialty produce, not just the Bitter Ends Luncheonette. With more space I cam grow a greater variety of crops, including potatoes, artichokes, carrots, and winter squash that I did not have room for at my previous growing plot (1/4 acre). Hilltop Urban Farm gives my farm the opportunity to expand and meet the growing demand for our vegetables.”

In 2018, in partnership with Bitter Ends Garden Luncheonette, Joddo started a 1/4 acre market garden in Verona, PA to provide produce to the 17 seat lunch counter in the neighborhood of Bloomfield. The goal of this garden was to supply the restaurant with as much possible as for truly local farm-to-table service. Joddo grew a variety of crops, including Bitter Ends’ own refined salad mix, specialty herbs, rare chicory varieties, Italian heirlooms, and winter crops.

You can find Joddo and his produce this season at the Bloomfield Saturday Market and Bitter Ends Garden Luncheonette in Bloomfield. Follow Joddo’s farming journey via instagram.

cabbage run farm, Nick Lubecki (mixed vegetables, 0.5 acres)

More information coming soon!


DECO Resources, Anthony Stewart (compost production)

DECO Resources, an Allentown-based environmental firm, will operate a 3000 square foot compost production business at Hilltop Urban Farm.

DECO unifies Design-Engineering-Construction-Operations with sustainability and green tech to improve environmental health for our community. The DECO team uses scientific data to solve challenges for businesses, property managers, and in agriculture. Since 2013, the DECO team has installed green infrastructure at more than 60 sites across the Pittsburgh region, capturing 100,000 gallons of stormwater each year.

Contact DECO via astewart@deco-resources or 412-481-0481.


Bee Boy Honey, Randall Hall (honey production)

“Honeybees live collectively in colonies inside beehives. I place beehives around the city in our neighborhoods. I tend the bees to keep them healthy. Bees make honey from plant nectar, and sometimes they produce surplus honey. I harvest the surplus honey, and then I sell it to you.”