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Urban agricuture movement on the rise in Wilmington

Megan Pauly
Delaware Public Media
Gov. Jack Markell recognizes Wilmington resident Hazel Brown for her hard work establishing a community garden in the city.

The Department of Agriculture announced Friday the recipients of 11 micro-grants for organizations committed to urban agriculture initiatives in Delaware.

Among them is the Kingswood Community Center in Wilmington, where community members gathered Friday for the announcement.


Logan Herring is the Executive Director of the Kingswood Community Center in Wilmington.


"It’s a heartwarming feeling when I walk out here and I see each child fully engaged with dirty hands and smiles. In the words of Barbara Bose who was instrumental in the creation of this garden just six years ago, science class has evolved from pages to plants and diagrams to dirt," Herring said.


The grant will help Kingswood expand and add more raised garden beds.


Ann Mattingly with the Delaware Center for Horticulture has seen the urban agriculture movement grow and thrive in Wilmington.


She says community gardens were few and far between in 2005. By 2011, momentum for the gardens was starting to gain traction.


"The Department of Agriculture for the first time was recognizing urban agriculture as a legitimate form of agriculture which was huge," Mattingly said.


Ann also recognized community member Hazel Brown for playing an integral part in the urban agriculture movement.


60 community gardens have now sprouted up in the city. Another grant recipient - Healthy Foods for Healthy Kids - is working to integrate community gardens into 26 local school science curriculums.


Thianda Manzara is Founder and Executive Director for the organization, and says the curriculum allows the kids to have hands on farm to table experience.


"We’ve developed an original curriculum that supports the Delaware state science curriculum," Manzara said. "So the idea is for kids to learn science in the garden and also to discover that vegetables can be delicious so that they can eat healthier.


She adds that she’ll use the micro grant to help build a fence for a garden at Pleasantville Elementary School that they started last year.


Dan Shortridge of the Department of Agriculture says the $10,000 for the grants was taken from the department’s marketing budget this year.

However, next year Gov. Markell’s budget has allotted $20,000 in a separate line item to continue and expand funding of community gardens in the First State.  

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