Mildreds' Daughters Urban Farm is located on 5+ acres in the Stanton Heights neighborhood of Pittsburgh, about 10 minutes from downtown. The land is on a sunny hilltop, overlooking the Allegheny River and the town of Etna. It has been deeded and operated as a farm since 1875. Barb Kline and Randa Shannon purchased the property in 1999, from the DiCaprio family who had worked the farm for 70 years. Developers were eying the land as a site for 28 houses in this quiet residential community.
The fields were initially leased to a young farmer, Stephanie Myers, who grew organic produce for 3 years as City Fields. When Stephanie moved on, Barb and Randa took up the tiller and started Mildreds' Daughters, Inspired by Stephanie's commitment and wisdom, they grew organic produce, specializing in heirloom tomatoes and unique vegetables, using sustainable methods. They initially marketed through farmers markets, expanding to chefs and grocers, and then expanding to a small community supported agriculture (CSA) group.
From 2001 through 2004, they worked and learned side by side with interns from PULSE, the Mennonite Urban Corps: Nick Hurst, Neil Stauffer, Susanna Meyer, Sasha Cunningham, and Jason Witmer These young people brought a generous work ethic and calm intelligence to the development of the farm that is still felt today. Neil and Susanna are now working for Grow Pittsburgh as marketing and field managers. Nick has led the construction of a timber framed, strawbale walled agricultural building to be completed in the fall of 2005.
The name Mildreds' Daughters Urban Farm came after a year of indecision. Randa wanted to call the farm April Fools Farm because she and Barb closed on the property on April Fools Day. They also thought of naming the farm after the resident barn cats, Peewee and Lulu's farm. Barb finally thought of the name Mildreds' Daughters because both Randa and Barb have mothers named Mildred and both mothers had influenced their presence on the land in many ways.
In May of 2005 Grow Pittsburgh was formed. Mildreds' Daughters Urban Farm now functions as a training site for Grow Pittsburgh's adult internship and teen apprenticeship programs. It serves as a model for small scale sustainable organic market farming in an urban environment. The site also hosts tours for groups and on-farm classes on a variety of growing techniques. Mildreds' Daughters Urban Farm hosts an annual open house and farm tour each year near the Summer Solstice, on the third Saturday in June.