A small group’s dream of opening a community garden in Lewes is getting closer to reality.
The city’s parks and recreation commission unanimously voted to recommend the city enter into an agreement with the group to build a community garden in Great Marsh Park on Park Road behind the Lewes Unleashed dog park.
“Our experience with other gardens is that once we get started, they have a wait list,” said Cathy Harris, founder of Lewes Community Gardens. “That’s what we’re hoping for here. If we could just get a start somewhere, a foothold …”
Harris formed the group in 2016 after retiring. She said the idea spawned from a conversation she had with a neighbor.
“I was bemoaning the fact that there isn’t a community garden within 30 miles of here,” she said. “He said he was interested too, but couldn’t find others that were interested.”
The group has added new members in the last two years, but it still remains a small group. The Greater Lewes Foundation is managing the money they’ve collected so far.
“Once we get more people, we would become our own nonprofit,” Harris said.
The conceptual plan is to build 12 raised beds to start; there is plenty of room for growth at the proposed location. Each bed is 4 feet by 12 feet. The gardens would be surrounded by 8-foot deer fence, and the group would tap into the Lewes Board of Public Works’ system for water.
Parks and Rec Commissioner Lou Papp is working with the group to develop a plan and estimates the initial work would cost about $12,000.
Harris anticipates members would pay a yearly membership of $25 to $30, and the group would seek grants to offset the rest of the costs of water and monthly maintenance.
Group member Michael Whitehouse said the purpose of the community garden effort is to bring people together.
“We all have gardens,” he said. “Many of us have been gardeners our entire lives. This is about sharing and giving and community building.”
In addition to access to better soil, raised beds also provide opportunities for senior citizens to be involved with the gardens.
Parks and Rec Commissioner Warren Golde said he has some familiarity with the community gardens at East Coast Garden Center, and he predicted a similar project in Lewes would gain great interest.
“I have no doubt this would be successful,” he said. “I know people in my development who could probably fill the whole thing up.”
Parks and Rec Commissioner Mardi Thompson said the proposed project is a great use of the space and that it likely would not take a lot of work to prep the area for the gardens. Her only request of the group was to provide the city with a more detailed plan, showing the precise location of every bed and element of the garden. She said she believes that would better prepare the gardens for future growth as well as potential partnership with the city.
The community garden group meets from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m., the first Wednesday of every month at the Lewes Public Library. Due to the Fourth of July holiday, the July meeting will be held Wednesday, July 11. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.