The Women’s Help Center and the Center for Population Health (CPH) have joined forces to build raised garden beds for the residents to help address food insecurity as a social determinant of health.

The green space behind the Napoleon Street location is approximately 80 cubic feet of growing space and has had garden beds for ages; however, they were overgrown.

“We looked at the planter beds every year and would get overwhelmed with the work needed to bring them back into use. And so many of our residents asked for usable garden space to grow herbs, vegetables, and fruits,” said The Women’s Help Center Executive Director Roxann Tyger.

“The residents are excited to do something with the garden,” added CPH Local Food Systems Coordinator Nan McNinney.

The Women’s Help Center residents who wish to volunteer will be able to assist in preparing the garden beds, planting vegetables, and maintaining the area. The residents also provided input on what types of vegetables will be planted – tomatoes, zucchini, and cucumbers.

The planting day is scheduled for May 22 at noon. If you’d like more information about planting, contact McNinney via email at

The Women’s Help Center’s vacant lot adjacent to its McMillen Street transitional housing apartment building will also receive some updates. The space will be fenced-in and have six 12-foot raised garden beds installed. A gazebo and outdoor activities, like cornhole, will be placed at the location. “The residents at our McMillen Street apartments had no usable green space. Many were asking for a garden to grow some of their own food, a space to unwind outdoors, and a safe place for pets. This project is going to deliver on all of that!”, said Roxann Tyger.

“This big empty space will make a beautiful garden,” said McNinney.

Community gardens have numerous health benefits, like providing people with access to healthy and free produce and creating a sense of community and providing socialization. It is also a skill they can take with them as they transition out of assisted housing.

Local suppliers and resources will be utilized to construct the garden beds.

Community Foundation for the Alleghenies, Penn State University, and AmeriHealth Caritas are providing funding for the gardens.