Wilmington Welcomes Downtown Community Garden

Calling all urban gardeners! The former site of a well-known, long-time business at 4th and Orange Streets has now been transformed into Wilmington’s newest urban garden. Mayor Mike Purzycki and Downtown Visions (DTV) Executive Director Marty Hageman Friday welcomed friends and supporters of the new Downtown Community Garden as the site was officially dedicated. The new garden replaces the original downtown urban garden which had been around the corner on Market Street.

The former Gross Lighting Center was in business at the Orange Street site for more than a century before it was heavily damaged by fire in August of 2013 and was eventually demolished. The City obtained the property earlier this year, and with the assistance of former property owner Phil Gross and the Downtown Civic Association, it was jointly decided that the site would be used for an urban garden while the plot remains undeveloped. Ironically, it was another fire around the corner in the 400 block of Market Street that displaced the original Downtown Community Garden.

Mayor Purzycki said he is pleased that the City and community came together to make this land available for urban gardening. “This partnership has a variety of benefits including transforming an unattractive, vacant lot into small garden plots for people who enjoy gardening in the City,” said Mayor Purzycki. The Mayor said the site is intended for Downtown residents who want to grow their own healthy vegetables, foster a sense of community and socialize.

The Mayor and DTV’s Marty Hageman Friday thanked a number of people and businesses that have supported the new garden, including Bank of America, which has been supporting DTV’s Main Street Wilmington program since 2010, for contributing funds to enable the garden to purchase soil and supplies; Wohlsen Construction Company, which contributed and installed the fencing that secures the site; water for the site supplied through Harry Wolkind of neighboring Rave Reality Corporation; and the Buccini Pollin Group, which provided in-kind graphic design assistance for garden signage.

The garden partnership also includes the neighboring Salvation Army, which has acquired a few of the plots and is partnering with the Kiwanis Club of Wilmington to grow vegetables for the seniors and children served by the agency. Produce will be given to seniors and children along with recipes. Finally, the Salvation Army and Kiwanians are teaching children and seniors about developing “Milk Crate Gardens” so they can have a garden to take home and care for. Hageman noted that where a business once thrived, a new era for Downtown Wilmington will now bloom.

When at full capacity, the new garden will have 24 plots available. The current season configuration is 16, with one plot remaining. Citizens may contact Pat Shay of the Downtown Civic Association at [email protected] or 267-469-5882. Plots are $40 per season, plus a $25 gate key deposit.

Source: City of Wilmington

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