Evan McMillan, Community Affairs Director, Wilmington Regional Association of REALTORS®
The Wilmington Regional Association of REALTORS® (WRAR) is partnering with the Wilmington Housing Authority, Wilmington Green, a local non-profit, and the Interfaith Refugee Ministry to launch a project to create a sustainable model for creating community gardens in the Wilmington-area.
After surveying several neighborhoods and determining community interest, WRAR will be building the inaugural community garden on an empty lot owned by the Devon Park United Methodist Church, which is thrilled to offer their space for the garden. Local REALTORS® will pitch in on April 7, 2015 to help with the building of the garden.
This particular garden is special for a number of reasons. The WRAR and its aforementioned partners will be creating a communal place for residents to gather and garden, including a group of refugees from Burma who are currently learning English through the Devon Park United Methodist Church. With backgrounds and skills in gardening and farming, we hope this garden will be a way for the refugees to feel at home in their new neighborhood and to create community cohesion.
At the heart of the Placemaking is the sense of creating opportunities for neighborhoods to thrive together, and we believe this project will help bring people of varying backgrounds together through a shared love of gardening and of place. And…the project has the support of the community where polling has shown an overwhelming positive response.
The lot is currently maintained, but not in use for any particular purpose. The community garden will transform this underutilized space into a functional place for the community to gather and reap the benefits from their labors. An existing picnic shelter will provide shade, seating and a place to relax for both the gardeners and those who stop by to enjoy the garden’s offerings. And the garden will make the shelter more welcoming.
The final plan includes 18 – 8’ x 20’ raised garden beds, a tool shed and compost bins. With funding from NAR’s Placemaking Micro-Grant and a match from WRAR, we will be able to purchase the wood, tools, soil, seeds and starter plants to get the garden going.
Wilmington Green will operate the garden once completed, and the Devon Park community has been very enthusiastic about the prospect of having this garden in their shared “backyard”.