Project History


hilltop alliance & hilltop urban farm

Reinvestment in community is our guiding principle. In 2013, Hilltop Alliance worked closely with community-based member organizations, the Mt. Oliver – St. Clair Community Group and Lighthouse Cathedral, to ensure that the ideation and planning of Hilltop Urban Farm aligned with the goals of the St. Clair and Mt. Oliver communities. Over the last six years, Hilltop Alliance and Hilltop Urban Farm have continued to work closely with members of the community, ensuring that they are given the resources and information to envision the benefits of reinvestment. As Hilltop Urban Farm continues in its development phase, community reinvestment remains at our core. Our ultimate goal for Hilltop Urban Farm is that it will operate independently and serve as a dynamic resource for the community that surrounds the site.


Timeline of Development

Feasibility Study, 2013 to 2014

Hilltop Alliance worked with Mt Oliver City/St Clair Community Group, Penn State Extension and Grow Pittsburgh to complete a community-based Feasibility Study of the vacant Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh property. The outcome of this study was the framework for Hilltop Urban Farm, driven by community input and insight.

Site Master Plan, May 2015 to October 2015

Operations Plan, May 2015 to October 2015

Soil Rebuilding Report, May 2015 to October 2015

Throughout 2015, the Hilltop Alliance, and Director of Hilltop Urban Farm, Sarah Baxendell, completed the technical design phase for the Hilltop Urban Farm that informed the implementation of site development.

Tree Inventory Report, Spring 2016

This report, completed by the Hilltop Alliance and the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, maps the existing trees on the site, their condition, and makes recommendations for future tree plantings and tree maintenance at Hilltop Urban Farm.

Soil Rebuilding implementation, July 2017 to September 2018

Hilltop Alliance worked with Beltzhoover-based general contractor, Go Supreme, to till up existing grasses, spread 576 cubic yards of organic mushroom compost, and plant three seasons of organic cover crops. In September 2018, Hilltop Urban Farm switched to a no-till perennial cover crop.

Ribbon Cutting Ceremony, August 2017

Elected officials and community members celebrated the first phase of the Hilltop Urban Farm implementation, the rebuilding of urban soils for farming enterprises.

Monthly Volunteer Work Days, September to October 2017

Hilltop Urban Farm begins its first monthly volunteer work days, which attract 93 volunteer participants.

Youth Farm build-out, March 2018 to April 2019

Hilltop Urban Farm partnered with general contractor, Go Supreme, to install a water line, deer fencing, shipping container and raised beds at the Youth Farm. Hilltop Urban Farm partnered with Allentown-based DECO Resources to build a mobile cooler trailer and install a solar panel array on the shipping container at the Youth Farm.

Youth Farm Orchard planTing, May 2018

Hilltop Urban Farm partnered with The Fruit Tree Planting Foundation to establish the Youth Farm Orchard through a community-based planting of 47 fruit trees. The American Chestnut Planting Foundation later added 20 restoration chestnut trees to the Youth Farm Orchard.

Monthly Volunteer Work Days, April 2018 to November 2018

Hilltop Urban Farm hosted 13 volunteer events in 2018, with over 250 volunteer participants.

Hilltop Urban Farm begins to transition into an independent nonprofit organization, July 2018 to present

The Hilltop Urban Farm began the process of becoming an independent nonprofit organization in July 2018 with the establishment of the initial Board of Directors and submission of the IRS application for nonprofit status. Hilltop Alliance, the host organization of Hilltop Urban Farm, now acts as a supporting organization for the new organization. Hilltop Alliance and Hilltop Urban Farm share an office, and support each others efforts to revitalize the Hilltop community of south Pittsburgh.

Applications are Live for the 2019 Pilot Farmer Incubation Program, December 2018 to February 15, 2019

Hilltop Urban Farm opens the 2019 Pilot Farmer Incubation Program, which offers access to rehabilitated farmland and water for the first season. This effort is supported through an Advisory Council of local nonprofits and farmers.

Farmers begin growing at Hilltop Urban Farm, April 1, 2019

In the first season of the 2019 Farmer Incubation Program Pilot farmers experienced urban farmers will be offered the opportunity to start farm businesses at Hilltop Urban Farm, planting crops for the Pittsburg region for the first time starting April 1, 2019.

Opening of the Youth Farm, April 2019

In April 2019, the Youth Farm at Hilltop Urban Farm will open its doors for the first time, welcoming youth from the Mt Oliver City, St Clair, Arlington and Arlington Heights neighborhoods to its programs.

Production Orchard Planting, May 4, 2019

On May 4th, 2019, Hilltop Urban Farm, The Fruit Tree Planting Foundation and Plant Five for Life will plant the largest orchard in the City of Pittsburgh in one day. Over 200 fruit trees will be planted with the help of volunteers, including over 50 cider trees for Threadbare Cider House, headquartered in the Spring Garden neighborhood of Pittsburgh.