January 30, 2018

For Immediate Release


The newly-formed Three Rivers Agricultural Land Initiative (TRALI) completed its steering committee in January 2018 by bringing on three community representatives.


Dana Harris-Yates, Masoud Sayles and Gavin Deming will represent three unique, Pittsburgh communities in governing TRALI on a nine-person steering committee, which also includes representatives from Grow Pittsburgh and Allegheny Land Trust (ALT).


Dana Harris-Yates was raised farming, gardening and learning horticulture passed down from Indigenous teachings from her Aniyunwiya American Indian heritage. Dana is the founder of Cultural Oasis Healing Emporium LLC, and is the Operations Manager for the Black Urban Gardeners and Farmers Cooperative of Pittsburgh (BUGS) based in Homewood. Her personal mission is to promote spiritual, emotional and physical health and wellness in Indigenous communities throughout the entire diaspora, and to share ancient techniques of healing to all ages.


Masoud Sayles has a bachelor’s degree in Geo-Biology from Penn State and practices permaculture design. An active volunteer in his community, Masoud manages a community garden in McKeesport. He believes strongly that human existence is only a successful endeavor if it is conducted in partnership with other organisms in our environment, especially trees.


Gavin Deming is Executive Director of Allegheny GoatScape and Community Specialist with the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy’s community garden and greenspace program. Gavin volunteers for the Ballfield Farm community garden on the North Side. He believes that the earth and its people can heal at the intersection of environmental stewardship and intentional community building, and we all need to be quick to listen to those who are not usually heard in decision-making situations.


TRALI launched in August 2017 with the goal of protecting and preserving selected urban agricultural lands in perpetuity, and held its first planning meeting in December 2017. It will provide long-term security for existing community gardens and urban farms, and ensure that future urban agricultural expansion will be planned and conducted on protected land. The initiative will create the stability necessary to foster a vibrant, sustainable urban agriculture movement in the Pittsburgh region by removing the threat of future sales of agricultural lands for other development purposes and creating opportunity to expand urban agriculture.


Community gardens and urban farms provide environmental benefits including stormwater mitigation, pollinator habitat creation and neighborhood food insecurity reduction, and also serve as vital places for social connections and community-building. There are more than 80 community gardens and urban farms in Allegheny County, many of which are using land without a formal land use agreement or have only temporary permission. With this initiative, Pittsburgh will join Philadelphia, New York City, Chicago and Providence, which all have land trusts dedicated to protecting urban agriculture projects.


Rounding out the TRALI steering committee include Quincy Swanson, Grow Pittsburgh representatives Quincy Swanson, Rayden Sorock and Jake Seltman, and Allegheny Land Trust representatives Beth Dutton, Roy Kraynyk and Chris Beichner.


Those who are interested in learning more about having their community garden or urban farm participate in the program can send an inquiry to


About Grow Pittsburgh


Grow Pittsburgh’s mission is to teach people how to grow food and promote the benefits that gardens bring to our neighborhoods. The organization was founded in 2005, and has been a registered 501c(3) entity since 2008. We use growing food as a platform to bring people and communities together, while inspiring them to be healthier individuals, learn new skills, care for the earth and make our city and region a more livable, equitable and desirable place to be. Please visit our website to learn more about the distinct programs and production sites that provide opportunities for people of all ages to grow their own food. More information can be found at


About Allegheny Land Trust


Founded as a nonprofit in 1993 in response to the rapidly declining amount of green space in Allegheny County, ALT has protected more than 2,100 acres to preserve our region’s unique natural beauty, provide accessible outdoor recreational opportunities, improve water quality, sustain biodiversity, and enhance the overall quality of life for all. ALT’s mission has expanded in recent years to include innovative methods of land conservation in support of community needs for urban green space as well the addition of a professional environmental education team teaching people of all ages to understand and appreciate the natural world. More information can be found at