CCAC and ACHIEVA cultivate a mutually beneficial partnership with community garden

Article by: CCAC Public Relations
PITTSBURGH—A partnership between the Community College of Allegheny County and ACHIEVA, a nonprofit organization supporting and empowering individuals with disabilities and their families, has yielded a bountiful harvest from the CCAC South Campus community garden this summer. More importantly, the partnership has provided a rewarding, community-based experience for the individuals served by the organization, as well as fresh produce for students and families in need of food assistance.

Through this partnership, 19 customers of ACHIEVA serve as volunteers for CCAC’s South Campus community garden. Two days a week they help to maintain the gardens and greenhouse by weeding, watering and picking vegetables. Much of the produce goes to the Campus Cupboard South Food Pantry where, on average, more than 25 students and their families receive food assistance each month. At least 14 dozen ears of sweet corn were picked—as well as peppers, zucchini, summer squash, green beans, tomatoes, herbs and Swiss chard—to the delight of the students who utilize the food pantry. The ACHIEVA clients, who work closely with CCAC’s groundskeeper and other staff members, also shared in the harvest by taking home some of the fresh produce. The benefits go far beyond the homegrown vegetables and herbs, however; the volunteers learn valuable skills while participating in a worthwhile and enjoyable activity.

“Partners like CCAC make it possible for individuals with disabilities to gain meaningful community experiences,” said Danielle Parson, ACHIEVA’s director of Communications. “CCAC helps ACHIEVA promote the importance of inclusion, while focusing on abilities and not a person’s disabilities.”

CCAC’s Community Training and Development department has worked with ACHIEVA for more than 30 years to help the agency’s customers reach their full potential. Expanding the relationship to include the South Campus community garden has proven to be a great opportunity for both partners.

“We have been very fortunate to host individuals from ACHIEVA this summer, who helped with the flower beds and the community garden. The vegetable garden, in particular, has yielded vegetables and herbs that are unparalleled in their freshness, size and beauty,” said CCAC South Campus President Charlene Newkirk.

For more information about CCAC’s Community Training and Development program, call 412.237.2723. For more information about ACHIEVA, call 412.995.5000.

Photo: Alisha Vereen, ACHIEVA program specialist, and Jimmie Tosic, ACHIEVA client, gather some leafy greens from the CCAC South Campus community garden.