James Washington has a passion to help others while giving back to his communities. The Pittsburgh Steelers receiver also has an agricultural background, which made his recently launched partnership with Grow Pittsburgh a natural fit.
Founded in 2005, Grow Pittsburgh is a non-profit, charitable organization that builds and supports school and community gardens. Grow Pittsburgh serves as a “resource and guide for backyard, school and community gardeners, as well as urban farmers in the Greater Pittsburgh area.” The mission of the organization is to teach people how to grow food and to promote the benefits of gardens within a community. Last year, more than 28,000 pounds of produce was grown for the Pittsburgh community at two urban farming sites. Almost 4,000 Grab & Go kits were delivered to the students which included “everything you need to plant and grow while learning at home”.
Washington, which recently hosted its first event with Grow Pittsburgh, spoke with CBS Sports about their new partnership.
“I thought it went pretty well,” Washington said. “Just seeing all the work they did and everything they established there.… For the kids that were there, they seemed like something they looked forward to every day, coming to spend some time with. time with their buddies. And it’s a way of teaching kids to feed themselves all their life instead of just once. It’s also a way for them to feel like heroes because they grow plants , vegetables and fruits to give back to the community.
“My dad was a farmer when I was younger, so it was something that (resonated) with me other than athletic-type community service,” Washington said. You are addressing a different group of children. It’s a great program and it’s just a way for them to give back to their community. ”
Washington is looking to involve his teammates in this special cause.
“I really want to take some teammates out there and work with the kids and maybe get some donations and things together. Just to help them even more.”
Growing up with a father who farmed, you would think Washington could be a huge fan of vegetables growing up, but it wasn’t.
“Myself growing up wasn’t a big fan of veg, but I bet if I planted them myself and did all the work, I would at least try them. So that’s another thing that opens up. the way for children is that they can get and taste what they have cultivated and cared for.
“I believe (farming) teaches them how to work hard, because it’s definitely something that’s going to take countless hours and care. It teaches them to be able to go out and work on their own and have that work ethic.”
Grow Pittsburgh is giving Washington a chance to give back to the Pittsburgh community off the field and that’s something he appreciates.
“It means a lot to me to be able to give back to my position. Growing up in a small town, you see families who may not be as lucky as you are. So the fact that I can now and can help people who maybe need a little help, means a lot to me that I can help people. ”