Hamnett Place – Wilkinsburg

Program Area: ReClaim

Topic: Community Engagement, Community Gardens, Education, Vacant Land


Neighborhood: Wilkinsburg

In the spring of 2009, the Wilkinsburg community and Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation (PHLF) contracted GTECH to initiate and facilitate a community visioning event at 502 Jeannette Street; a then-vacant lot located near the center of the historic community of Hamnett Place. GTECH convened a community-wide planning session to address the needs and vision of the community. The community was surveyed, provided with examples of green strategies, and created a collection of sustainable options for the vacant space.

 That same afternoon, forty community members began planting sunflowers on the site with the help of GTECH, PHLF, and the Wilkinsburg Community Development Corporation. The sunflowers would serve as a placeholder for future redevelopment. Using sunflower bioenergy gardens as a transitional strategy allows the community to actively participate in the beginning stages of converting once blighted vacant properties into clean, safe areas ready for redevelopment. It also reduces blight and improves environmental conditions, giving the community time to develop and implement plans for a more productive long-term strategy for the site.

In the spring of 2011, the sunflower project was converted into a community garden. Gardening assistance was provided by Allegheny Grows, a partnership between Allegheny County Economic Development, Grow Pittsburgh, and Western PA Conservancy, and the land is owned by PHLF. The site is a great community gathering space.

Hamnett Place

Enjoying the sunflowers

Hamnett Place Community Garden


Community gardens are brightening city neighborhoods Tribune-Review | July 23, 2012

Rachel Courtney is no civic planner, but has become an expert on building neighborhoods. Rows of okra, bright red berries and leafy greens — all grown by Courtney and her neighbors — spring from a spit of land in Wilkinsburg. She says and other residents are trying to grow their community — one string bean at … [read more]

See the Hamnett Place Community Garden website here. 

Special Thanks

We appreciate the Wilkinsburg community and Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation for giving us the opportunity to be a part of this project. We are also grateful for the roles played by Wilkinsburg Community Development Corporation, Allegheny County Economic Development, Grow Pittsburgh, and Western Pennsylvania Conservancy in this project.


  • Grow Pittsburgh

  • Allegheny County Economic Development

  • Western Pennsylvania Conservancy

  • Wilkinsburg Community Development Corporation

  • Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation