Sunny’s Community Garden Fund is managed by the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies, a 501c3 nonprofit organization.

For my birthday this year, I gave myself a present – Sunny’s * Community Garden, a non-profit program that transforms unused urban lots into gathering places for gardeners of all ages to learn about and experience the benefits and rewards of growing healthy food.

It’s just an empty lot now, but on April 22, volunteers will transform the lot into a vibrant urban gardening space with a Growing Area complete with raised beds and a Gathering Area of picnic tables. 

First harvest will be this fall!

* My grandchildren call me Sunny.


The Seeds are Sown


For the past twenty years, I’ve lived in the not-for-profit world and I’ve learned many things:

If you plant the right seed at the right time, and ask the right people, they will volunteer to help you make it grow. Reward volunteers with a rewarding  experience. And, for every please, there must be a resounding thank you. 

Back in January, the seed of Sunny’s Community Garden was sown when Patty Lemer introduced me to Reverend Glenn Grayson. He owned an empty lot and I had a plan to turn the lot into a garden where people could grow and gather – not just a garden, but a community within Pittsburgh’s burgeoning Hill District.  It would all start with a volunteer event on April 22, Earth Day. I mentioned my plan during a walk with Eleanor Hershberg and she suggested I contact Sarah Schanwald of Repair the World. I emailed Sarah and that is when the seed really started to grow. 

Sarah included her colleague Becca Simon in conversations about the work necessary to build the garden. Becca reached out to Duquesne Light Company, a supporter of employee community involvement, and the company sent 12 volunteers. Greg Blair from The Center That CARES provided  late afternoon helpers. Several people from Repair the World brought their gloves and garden tools. These people, all unknown to me prior to last Thursday, came to help make the garden grow.

Personally, I asked  Susie Steiner if she would once again be my partner, knowing she would say yes;  together we are a formidable team. I called long-time friends Nancy & Stephen Selkowitz to join me; their hearts and arms are always big enough for one more project. I needed, as always, my brother Mark Lando for practical solutions and non-stop humor.  Improv Teacher Emily Harris started us off with one of her inspiring stories. Grade-school and now late-in-life friend Ellen Schwartz brought energy. Sue Fernando painstakingly measured out row spacing and depths and carefully planted seeds. Marshall Hershberg joined Eleanor in dirt digging and planting. Patty Lemer noted progress throughout the day; Stanley Klein documented everything with his camera. Rashawn Nrowood, a young neighbor came after school and stayed until sundown, as he had done every day last week. And always, always, always I relied on my husband for behind-the scene support and cheerleading.

As a group, we moved mountains of topsoil, compost and woodchips (@seven tons of materials), stained and sealed picnic tables, prepared a pumpkin patch, built a stone walkway, laid in 35 flats of annuals and seeded eight  4’ x 8’ raised bed containers. We planted many different varieties of carrots, radishes, peas, spinach, kale, and beans (Yet to be planted – when we receive our deer-proof cages this week – are herbs, tomatoes, onions, potatoes and lettuce.).

It was an exhausting, exhilarating day. We drank water. We ate pizza sitting on the sidewalk. We arrived clean and departed *really* dirty. We left having completed the bones of Sunny’s. It will be months until we see the body of the garden, but the first crop of radishes will be ready in 25 days. 

Circling back to the beginning of this post, another thing I learned was that Facebook posts should be short. No can do. Everyone who came to the  first volunteer event is now a part of my garden family and I want to acknowledge you all.  Let this way-too-long  post serve as my resounding thank you. Please come back and pick a carrot, snap some peas and have lunch at the picnic tables. I want you to join me in reaping what you helped to sow.

It was just an empty lot two months ago…

Next – ‘Beehives by Mr. Bey’ & Building the Compost Pile 



April 22, Earth Day 

2:00 – 6:00 PM

On site at Sunny’s Community Garden

613 Granville Street 15219

Parking directly in front of the garden

We’ll assemble and fill raised beds, assemble picnic tables and a storage shed, and spread mulch on the pathways. 

Then we’ll share a sense of pride in what we’re building, a cold drink and a snack.

Grab a pair of gloves, eat a hearty breakfast and lunch and join us. 

Fifteen minutes, an hour, we’ll take what we get!


Sunny’s Community Garden (SCG) transforms unused urban lots into gathering places for gardeners of all ages to learn about and experience the rewards of growing and sharing healthy food

From Unused Urban Lots Community Gardens


Through hands-on growing experiences, neighbors celebrate the benefits and joys of a harvest.


SCG embraces diversity, inclusivity, sustainability, fairness, and fun.


The Gardening Area comprises eight 4’ x 2’ x 8’ raised garden beds

The Gathering Area holds six teaching/lunch tables and offers activities geared to the cultivating and caring of a garden.


SCG started with Sandi’s idea of using her many years’ experience as a Master Gardener to transform a vacant piece of land into a safe, accessible garden in the heart of Pittsburgh. 

Thanks to the generosity of the Rev. Glenn G. Grayson, CEO of The Center That CARES, SCG will yield its first crops Fall of 2021. 


Growing Area

8  3’ x’4’x 8’ Aluzinc Steel Modular Raised Bed Garden Beds

Hand trowel $20

Garden tug $50

Garden stakes $100

Compost Bin $150

Organic planting mix for raised bed $200

Seedlings for one raised bed $250

One Aluzinc extra-tall modular raised bed kit $400

Gathering Area

8 stained and sealed 6’ picnic tables with attached benches

Bird Feeder $65

Bat House $75

Bird Bath $100

Picnic Table $425



Office: 5267 Holmes Street #305
Pittsburgh PA 15201

Site: 613 Granville Street Pittsburgh PA 15219


Sunny’s Community Garden Fund is managed by the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies, a 501c3 nonprofit organization.


It is Sandi’s dream that Sunny’s will bloom into additional Pittsburgh neighborhoods.