Tripoli Street BakeYard

Tripoli Street BakeYard turned a once-contested public block into a neighborhood community gathering space complete with a public bread-oven and a 70-foot arrow-shaped picnic table.

As part of the Fallow Grounds Project, I was invited to work in the Northside community to create a new welcoming space on a lot in the Spring Garden neighborhood. The task of transforming a space began with a community meeting where I introduced the idea of the public oven. Over the next several months, we created the cob-oven and table as well as worked with local gardeners to add plantings. Together we turned the once dusty lot into a welcoming space.

Tripoli Street BakeYard was kicked off with the Wild Yeast Give-away event, where the public learned how to use wild yeast and could take some home. As interest grew, we formed the Tripoli Street BakeClub to gather bakers together and to share lessons on cob-oven baking. I created an instruction booklet and a cob-oven kit that people could take out for free. Towards the end of my residency, I created the Tripoli Street BakeOff, an event that challenged people to submit their own wild-yeast bread to be judged by the public. Throughout that summer and into the fall, many neighbors used the bakeyard to gather, cook, and eat together.

Tripoli Street BakeYard was commissioned by Neu Kirche Contemporary Art Center in 2016 as part of the Fallow Grounds Project in the Spring Garden neighborhood of Pittsburgh. It was featured on the podcast Five Minutes in Food History by Celeste Roberts for Pittsburgh City Podcasts.