by Terry Rogers
The plot of land next to the former Milford Armory will soon be tilled and plants bearing fresh produce will be planted to help feed those that may have difficulty punching fresh foods at the grocery store. A large garden patch, managed by volunteers, will yield tomatoes, carrots and other fresh vegetables while citizens may also be able to create their own garden patches to provide fresh foods for their own families.
“We are hoping to engage the community,” Blake Moore, a noxious weed specialist with the Delaware Department of Agriculture, said. “We created Milford Community Gardens with the goal of creating a location where people could come, learn more about agriculture as well as ways to feed their family in ways that are more healthy and nutritious.”
According to Trisha Quail, a member of the Milford Community Garden board, the garden project was organized over a year and a half ago. The board traveled around Milford to find a location, deciding that the plot of land next to the Armory was ideal for their needs. They reached out to the City of Milford who leased the land for them to create a garden on the land and worked with the Department of Public Health to bring the project to life.
Moore said that the land should be tilled for the garden during the week of April 23 and, as soon a the tilling was completed, the group would start planting local vegetables like cucumbers, tomatoes and carrots.
“We already have a few small apple trees planted along the edge of the land,” Moore said, but they will not yield fruit for four years. Eventually, we hope to also have strawberries and blueberries as well. Our lease for the land is five years and, by the end of that five years, we hope to have reached our goals in order to extend the garden at least another five years.” The garden will be completely community-based and what is planted will be based on what the community identifies as a need, not necessarily based on what the board wants to plant.
The Milford Community Garden is looking for volunteers for planting, weeding and harvesting. There is no specific time commitment requested from volunteers, just whatever an individual can give. Any family that wants to create their own garden plot will be asked for a $5 donation to offset costs, but the garden board will work with anyone who wants to start a garden.
“Eventually, we hope to have raised beds that will be handicap-accessible,” Moore said. “We don’t think we can get that started this year as we just don’t have the resources to buy the supplies we need to get it done. We need lumber and other supplies for that. Not only are we looking for volunteers, we are looking for donations of money and supplies that we will need to get the garden operational and keep it running.” In addition to growing produce, Milford Community Gardens hopes to offer education on native plants, habitat, beekeeping, food safety, gardening and other subjects.
A Blessing Box has also been placed at the location. The Blessing Box was created by Brendan Young who says helping others makes him feel “awesome.” The box, which is located next to the garden, allows people to place boxed or canned foods in the box so that those in need can simply remove an item.
“One of my friends did something like this in Milton and I thought it was a great idea,” Brendan said. “I have done a lot of work with the Food Bank and I know that there are a lot of people out there who don’t have enough food to eat. I thought this was a way to help them.” Brendan’s mother, Misty, said that when Brendan gets money for his birthday or Christmas, he always shares a portion of it with a charitable organization that he researches. To date, he has donated to Doctors Without Borders, St. Jude’s and other organizations. Brendan has also volunteered with Code Purple. He believes that giving back to the community helps improve the reputation of the area and that anyone who can spare time, items or money should give to help those in need.
Anyone who wants to volunteer for the Milford Community Garden can reach out to them through their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/MilfordCommunityGardens/ by posting or sending a private message. The group hopes to start planting at the end of April or early May. Planting can begin as soon as the land is tilled.
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