Art in the Garden History


Art in the Garden is OMA Pittsburgh’s first program for youth.

Art in the Garden started in 2012 when Scilla Wahrhaftig, the former head of the Pittsburgh branch of the American Friends Service Committee, saw a void in East Liberty in activities available to youth after school and in the summer. Following her lead, Art in the Garden continues to engage youth in urban gardens in active, structured, and supportive ways. Every year since Art in the Garden’s inception, youth and their families have expressed a desire and need for expanded programing.

In 2017, Art in the Garden expanded from a few hours 1x a week to four hours a day 3x a week.

In 2018, with support from The Heinz Endowments, the Neighbors Committee, and individuals like you, we were able to expand enrollment and to hire more staff, including two Junior Counselors who had attended Art in the Garden in the early days! We’re so proud they are choosing to be leaders. We also were able to offer two Surviving to Thriving training seminars to the public. These seminars focus on social, emotional, mental and behavioral health issues of youth and skills adults can use to support youth.

In 2019, Art in the Garden is expanding programming to the African Healing Garden in Larimer. Youth will be able to attend camp at a single site—the African Healing Garden on Mondays or Borland Garden on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays—or at both sites. We are also developing and implementing a curriculum to be used by Art in the Garden teachers (and ultimately to share freely with other interested programs!) which focuses on fostering resilience and social and emotional development through hands-on projects in the arts and ecology.