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North Hills Community Outreach to host harvest party

| Wednesday, July 31, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
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Volunteers show potatoes at the North Hills Community Outreach's garden.

Lower Valley residents are invited to a harvest party Tuesday.

Hundreds of pounds of tomatoes are ripe and ready to be picked at the expansive garden run by North Hills Community Outreach, or NHCO, which benefits local residents.

“It's a huge garden, and there's a huge list of things we grow — acorn squash to zucchini and every letter of the alphabet in between,” said Jennifer Kissel, NHCO spokeswoman.

The tomato harvest will be from 4:30 to 6 p.m. at the Rosalinda Sauro Sirianni Garden, 119 Davis Ave. in Bellevue.

The volunteer-run garden produces 3,500 pounds of produce to help stock two NHCO food pantries, one in Hampton and the other in Bellevue.

More than 1,450 families are nourished through the food pantries each year, and many live in the Fox Chapel Area School District, Kissel said.

At least 500 households in the Lower Valley benefit each year from NHCO services, which also include utility assistance, employment searches and clothing drives.

Kissel said families in each of the school district's six municipalities receive help from NHCO, from Aspinwall to Fox Chapel to Indiana Township.

Sharpsburg has the highest number of families, at 283, who benefit from services, Kissel said. Aspinwall has at least 60. Blawnox has more than 80.

“Each year, more families come to us for help, many of whom have suffered job loss, debilitating illness or the death of a major breadwinner,” she said.

“These families need nutritious food in addition to other support.

“The garden provides fresh, organic produce that goes from the earth to their table in 24 hours.”

Vegetables and herbs grown by NHCO volunteers are meant to supplement a typical grocery list. Kissel said a trip to the food pantry provides about five days worth of food and is worth more than $100.

Garden-grown produce goes a long way to not only provide extra bags full of food but to encourage healthy eating.

The bounty includes squash, beans, potatoes, peppers, onions, garlic, lettuce, spinach, chard, kale, basil and oregano.

Kissel said the garden produces different types of melons and includes a strawberry patch.

Last year, Kissel said about 3,500 pounds of produce was harvested.

“That was during a drought summer,” she said.

“This summer should be way over that.”

Anyone interested in helping harvest tomatoes on Tuesday or who want more information can call 412-307-0069.

Tawnya Panizzi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-782-2121, ext. 2 or tpanizzi@tribweb.com.

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