Western Pennsylvania Conservancy

Western Pennsylvania Conservancy

Transforming Communities With Gardens & Greenspaces

The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy's Community Gardens and Greenspace program connects people to nature in cities and towns throughout Western Pennsylvania, through flower gardens, new street trees, "greening" of school grounds, new food gardens and other green infrastructure. In 2010, a record-setting 12,050 people volunteered with the program, reflecting the value people place on greener communities throughout the region - and the personal investments that individuals are willing to make to create them.

Huntington Welcome Garden dedication
Huntington Welcome Garden dedication

In 2010, the Conservancy and thousands of volunteers planted and maintained community gardens at 140 locations in 20 counties. Once neglected spaces, these flower gardens provided bursts of color and vitality at street corners, intersections and other high-visibility locations in neighborhoods across the region. The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society named 14 WPC community gardens recipients of its 2010 Community Greening Awards.

Community garden planting,
57th & Butler, Lawrenceville
Community garden planting, 57th & Butler, Lawrenceville

In late 2010, the community gardens program was bolstered by a significant sponsorship from Huntington Bank, which is recognized at the massive community garden at Pittsburgh's Fort Pitt Tunnels. This garden, which sets the stage for a stunning entry into Pittsburgh through the tunnels, was renamed the "Huntington Welcome Garden" in appreciation for this sponsorship.

Educational tree tag
Educational tree tag

As the managing partner of TreeVitalize Pittsburgh, the Conservancy made steady progress toward the program's ambitious goal to plant 20,000 street trees in the Pittsburgh area by 2012. Together with our TreeVitalize partners, the City of Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, Tree Pittsburgh and the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, WPC staff and volunteers planted 3,622 trees in 2010. Studies show that trees not only beautify neighborhoods, they help to increase property values, build stronger communities, reduce air pollution, capture storm water and even reduce energy consumption. Since this program began in 2008, 38 communities have received a total of 8,300 new trees.

Students at 24 Pittsburgh public schools witnessed - and often participated in - the greening of their schoolyards in 2010 as WPC continued its School Grounds Greening project. Funded by The Grable Foundation, this initiative brings plants, trees, shrubs, outdoor classrooms, benches for reading and contemplation, and other features to all Pittsburgh Public Schools. Highlights of the year included a new sensory garden for disabled students and five outdoor classrooms.

Direct Energy
plant flowers,
Direct Energy volunteers plant flowers, downtown Pittsburgh

A new partnership with Grow Pittsburgh saw WPC lend its expertise to help launch urban vegetable gardens in Millvale and McKees Rocks as well as Lawrenceville and Uptown in Pittsburgh.

The Conservancy also brought nature to downtown Pittsburgh with 400 colorful hanging baskets and another 400 large planters that are changed seasonally. Made possible through the support of the Laurel and Colcom foundations, the flower baskets and planters contribute to the renewal of the downtown area. WPC planted almost 200 additional baskets along main streets in four Pittsburgh neighborhoods, and will plant more in 2011.