The Delaware Center for Horticulture: Urban Greening and So Much More

Friday, August 8 was a gorgeous, sunny day in northern Delaware and perfect for the First Year Fellows to visit The Delaware Center for Horticulture’s (DCH) headquarters and greening projects throughout Wilmington.

DCH Garden'

Stone railings from a former Wilmington bridge accent the DCH headquarters garden

The DCH is a multifaceted organization involved in projects that include park improvements, life skills and job training, local prisons initiatives,  youth development and gardening experience, and of course, environmental and economic improvements in public landscapes. The Fellows met with Ms. Pamela Sapko, Executive Director, and Mr. Lenny Wilson, Associate Director of Development. Despite the construction of a $3.5 million green renovation and expansion to the buildings, the offices were relatively quiet. Ms. Sapko and Mr. Wilson said this is not uncommon—not because The DCH staff isn’t busy, but because their work is often out in the “field.” The field being the entire state of Delaware, with an emphasis in and around Wilmington.

Mr. Wilson took the Fellows on a driving tour of spaces where The DCH has worked on projects, including the a variety of right-of-way areas, an ACME parking lot, and several community gardens.

Burton-Phelan Garden

l to r: Lenny Wilson, Hazel Brown, Stephanie Kuniholm, Fran Jackson, Andrea Brennan, Keith Nevison

A reprieve from blocks of row houses exists on the corner of 10th and Pine Streets.  What is now the Burton-Phelan Garden was once a space used for illegal dumping and drug trafficking. The Fellows were lucky enough to meet Hazel Brown, 87, the garden coordinator. She was working at the garden with a group from Habitat for Humanity, who had just installed an attractive cedar fence on the backside of the garden. An inspiring person, Hazel recently began working with The DCH to tame the garden as it had become unruly over several years.

12th and Brandywine Urban Farm

One of our last stops was at 12th and Brandywine Urban Farm, which won the 2010 Garden Club of America Founders Fund award, which is accompanied by $25,000, and a Community Greening Award from the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society in 2012. The Urban Farm exists to provide access to healthy food in an area of Wilmington where access is limited. A farmer’s market is hosted at this site every week and community members can rent a raised bed to grow and harvest their own produce.

The Delaware Center for Horticulture is a extraordinary community organization and a valuable asset to the city of Wilmington and state of Delaware. The Fellows are looking forward to volunteering for The DCH over the next two years!

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