All last spring and summer, SCA high school summer crews worked to reclaim abandonded lots in Pittsburgh.
Their first job — clear the lots. Wading through knee-high Japanese knotweed they removed bricks, rotting timbers and trash, making pile upon pile of debris that City workers hauled away. Then they rotatilled and planted thousands of sunflower seeds having learned that the plants would put nutrients back into the soil and soak up chemicals and spilled oil, while producing seeds that could be converted to biofuel.
This past Saturday, the crew members came back to the Larimer Community for the day to harvest their bountiful crop. By noon, there were masses of sunflower seeds filling five gallon buckets and a spirit of celebration as community members and the high school students got ready to feast on the barbecue underway in the beautiful new field.
The SCA participants were part of a Green Jobs Initiative that is a coalition of SCA, GTech, The Larimer Community Action Team and Pittsburgh State Agricultural Services. “The project provides green job skills, life skills, and access to the green economy,” explained Tamica Mickle who manages the project for SCA.
Traveling long distances, some crew members had to take three buses to get to work, and they did work, hard, as the results show. Would they do it again?
“I was a boy all last summer.” Shawna said, “I wore boots and jeans every day and I loved it. And I’m real girly, too.” Then she added, “I’m getting all my friends to do it next summer.”