by Terry Rogers
Milford Community Gardens began planting for its third season next to the Old Armory on North Walnut Street over the past few weeks. The garden, originally started by Class IV of LeaDelaware, the garden was the brainchild of Blake Moore, a student in the program. It is designed to provide education and to contribute freshly grown produce in the Milford area. This year, the garden is led by Nancy Saxon Wagamon, a Milford resident and the President of the Milford Community Garden Board.
The idea was always to give a resource to the locals in the form of land, tools, plants and education, that folks could not afford on their own,” Wagamon said. “We are trying to reach those who live in apartments or nearby areas who don’t have the space but would get the full enjoyment of the garden and its community. The biggest challenge has been getting the word out to potential gardeners in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic as posters could not be displayed and flyers could not be handed out.”
Wagamon explained that a community garden has many benefits. Not only does the garden provide nutritious, healthy food, it also improves mental health and reduces the number of miles food must travel to get to the dinner table. Community gardens also increase physical activity, improves dietary health through education and has been shown to decrease crime rates.
“This year’s layout is different than the two years prior,” Wagamon said. “There are 11 raised beds and 5 irrigated rows. Individual gardeners are required to work their own plots, including planting, weeding, watering and harvesting at least two hours a week during growing season. The irrigated rows can be maintained by any volunteer but, in order to harvest, work on the rows must be performed. Garden and maintenance tasks are performed entirely by volunteers.”
In addition to the garden, there is a Blessing Box, a small food bank located in front of the garden where those in need can pick up non-perishable food items. Donations can be placed in the box at any time. This year, there will be a small covered stand by the box where excess produce will be available for those in need.
“We also have a community herb garden, a living privacy wall and multiple flower beds this year,” Wagamon said. “There is a flat surface where we hope to hold Tai Chi and Yoga classes. A local artist, Sandy McCann, is slated to display her leaf sculptures as well as stepping stones. We are working on having a handicap-accessible path created. In addition, we hope to soon offer wheelchair-friendly work and display tables in order for gardeners to show off their plantings.” Wagamon has partnered with a team from Kent-Sussex Industries who are excited to be in the garden this summer.
The Milford Community Garden still partners with the Department of Public Health which allows them to provide tools and equipment at no cost to the gardeners. Currently, the Milford Community Garden Board of Directors is applying for grants to continue the project and donations are always welcome in order to keep the project free for all who want to participate.
For more information, follow Milford Community Garden on Facebook or contact them at email@example.com.