St. Clair Hospital’s recent history has been characterized by tremendous growth, in the form of new services, technologies and facilities. This summer and fall, there’s a different kind of growth taking place at the hospital, in the form of a bountiful rooftop garden. G. Alan Yeasted, M.D., FACP, Chief Medical Officer Emeritus for St. Clair, has implemented the garden as a community benefit program. The harvested vegetables are being distributed to the community through South Hills Interfaith Movement (SHIM).
“We’re aware that many residents of the community have nutritional deficiencies and economic challenges,” Dr. Yeasted says. “Fresh produce is not easily obtainable for many, but it plays an essential role in health. All of the chronic illnesses—obesity, heart disease, diabetes and others—can be helped, and even prevented, with good nutrition.”
Located in a sunny spot high above the hospital campus, the new garden features a variety of plants. “We chose organic vegetables that we could grow in containers,” Dr. Yeasted says. “The garden includes greens, beans, cucumbers, eggplants, peppers and tomatoes. We planted marigolds, dill, and nasturtiums to attract pollinators.”
Funding, including an automatic watering system, was provided by Dan Long, of the St. Clair Hospital Foundation Board. Jeff Donati, of Pete Donati & Sons, a South Hills florist and nursery, planted the seedlings.
Jim Guffey, executive director of SHIM, is distributing the garden’s bounty through SHIM’s three food pantries: “SHIM has strong ties with St. Clair. This partnership is a natural progression of that relationship. The pandemic is making it harder for people to obtain fresh vegetables.”
Dr. Yeasted, who helps maintain the garden, has a vision for it beyond cultivating vegetables. “Nutrition is a major social determinant of health. This project is about feeding people, but also about healthful eating. St. Clair’s garden is the beginning of a large community program; it will eventually become a therapeutic garden and a teaching tool for health education.”