Plant a single seed and water it, and you will grow a flower or vegetable, but plant a garden and nourish it, and you will sow with it much greater promise and a world of possibilities.
That idea was the guiding principle of a small group of local resident gardeners who envisioned building a community garden in Lewes three and a half years ago.
Today, the Lewes Community Garden is a reality, and with an enthusiastic and growing number of members and volunteers, the project has blossomed. Its presence is being felt far beyond the 20 planted garden plots. In its first growing season since breaking ground and building raised beds in June, the LCG group has donated more than 100 pounds of produce to the hungry and those in need through local nonprofit organizations. Volunteers have helped build the beds, tend community plots, and harvest vegetables for donation, and gardeners of all ages and abilities have enjoyed the opportunity to grow organic vegetables.
“We’ve been very grateful for all the wonderful community support the garden has received. So many people have been donating time and energy as well as resources. This truly is a community project,” said Perrin Smith, Lewes Community Garden co-chair.
“One of our volunteers makes a trip from Annapolis to Lewes several times a month, puts on her work clothes and rolls up her sleeves to help maintain several of the communal plots,” said Kathryn Marsh, head of community outreach efforts. “That kind of spirit is contagious.”
Since early August, LCG members and volunteers have gathered on weekends to harvest and donate produce to the Rehoboth Community Resource Center and the Greater Lewes Community Village. The harvest includes yellow squash, green peppers, okra, beans, kale, tomatoes, melons, eggplant and cucumbers.
Garden member Gary Stokes coordinates collecting produce and getting donations into the hands of Michael Seifert and Harvey Holthaus of St. Peter’s Church, who deliver it to the Community Resource Center’s Food Rescue Program in Rehoboth Beach, which provides food for the hungry in the area. Greater Lewes Community Village members Mary Anne Manzi and Christy Callanan have gratefully accepted donations from the community gardens as well. For those who receive the donations, fresh, healthy food is seen as a special gift.
The Lewes Community Garden hopes to continue community outreach and expand its food donations in 2020. As the gardens yield more annual production, more growing and distribution partners will be enlisted. Beebe Healthcare’s Population Health Project is planning to join forces with LCG.
“The enthusiasm and support are growing, especially now that we are actually established and have raised-garden beds, a water source and spigot, and deer and border fencing,” said Cathy Harris, MD, Lewes Community Garden co-founder and emeritus chair. “How this project has grown is way beyond our initial expectations, and that’s thanks to the optimism and perseverance of a small group that somehow became a larger band of residents and then became a force. It’s a great testimony to how people with shared values can come together and make a difference.”
To sponsor a bed for a low-income family or a harvest donation, send $75 to the Greater Lewes Foundation, PO Box 110, Lewes, DE 19958, Attn: Lewes Community Gardeners Fund. Sussex County residents can also apply for individual plots for $75, and plots will be allocated as available in spring 2020. For more information, go to www.lewescommunitygarden.org.