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Ballpark Farm- Nature Park

The Ballpark Farm is part of the Pittsburgh Project's Urban Farming Initiative, which is focused on community outreach. The Pittsburgh Project aims at "developing servant-leaders and upholding the dignity of vulnerable homeowners." The Urban Farming Initiative is a multifaceted project which has transformed an abandoned baseball park into a farm. The farm produces fruits, vegetables, and herbs providing the surrounding community with fresh and affordable produce. The farm is maintained by members of the community as well as students at Duquesne University. The Ballpark Farm provides an area for recreational activities, as well as containing a rain garden.

The Nature Park is located just outside the farm.  The park consists of a wooded area that has been cleared of debris by students and community members alike, and has allowed for a small stream to run freely through the park.  The park has a set of park benches for patrons to relax and enjoy the scenery.  A wooden bridge was installed to cross over the stream, allowing for further access and exploration of the area.  

Reflections

"Throughout the semester for my service learning community partnership, I was connected with the Ballpark Farm - Nature Park, a community that services on the north shores of Pittsburgh to provide the basics to understanding urban farming and food for the community that is home grown and healthy. As a life-long learner as both a community servant and a servant to science, the things that I noticed and experienced within the community taught me the importance of being able to work effectively within a group As a life-long learner, this experience taught me to not be afraid of taking chances and becoming involved within the community. Taking chances and making mistakes are some of the most important things that could be learned from any service atmosphere.
Science at the Service of Society taught me more about becoming involved with community partners, and just how grateful they are that anyone has come to help at all. This was seen with the Nature Park when the results that the work came to fruition and the cleared land could be used with a picnic table placed upon it. As of now, I am constantly pondering what new community organization I could potentially join in the future."

-Kellsie Drop 

"Ballpark Farm as well my fellow colleagues and mentors influenced how I approached community service. While I was driving to the farm, all I wanted to do is go and finish as fast as I could, but it later changed in a positive way. Shortly after arriving at the farm, I did not want to leave. I began to feel emotionally involved in the farm with a large sense of self-achievement, where I was so proud of what we had accomplished in just a short period of time.
The area of the farm that we were working on was in a bad vacant shape. Once the area was cleaned, the area was made into a playground for kids and a picnic area with a picnic table. During this short process, we all motivated each other to work harder to turn the vacant area into a beautiful forest like atmosphere where locals can gather and enjoy the scenery of the farm."

- Mohammed Alrifai, B.S. Biology graduate of May 2014

"I am an international student; I have more or less troubles to communicate with people in US, and also I feel weird when my American friends are looking at me. However, this feeling has changed during the serving learning, I became more help and they want to talk to me, which my communication skills are improved a lot This service has helped me to see more American views, like how they care for each other, why they like team work, and why is important to their society. Be honestly, this is my first time to be working with people, I realize that why we need each other, and I feel wonderful when I saw our project is done because it is change a lot. Due to this project, student team members starts to know each other, we start to say hi when we met on campus, not a stranger any more., I became more help and I found that my American friends wanted to talk to me, thereby my communication skills were improved a lot. and makes me feel I am not a stranger person in this project. For me, this service contribution makes me more confident and starts to like what I have right now. I know there is no easy life. Like our project, everything is mess at first, but you can change it if you try hard. In this path, you usually need people to help you. At the end, the results always can make you smile no matter how tired you are."

- Jingming Hu, B.S. Biology graduate of May 2014