West End Neighborhood House

Press Releases

For Immediate Release: November 8, 2013
Contact: Meredith Stuart
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Email: mstuart@westendnh.org

Wilmington Community Cultivates Center of Urban Agriculture

Demand for urban agriculture is motivating community members on Wilmington’s West Side to move a small mountain.  This Saturday, March 9, 2013 from 9:00a.m to 1:00p.m., more than 100 volunteers will form a bucket brigade to carry 60 cubic yards of composted soil – enough to fill a tractor trailer – to the top of Rodney Reservoir and expand the community garden there into the largest urban agriculture project in the City of Wilmington.

Created in 2011, the garden gives residents in one of the city’s most densely populated neighborhoods the space to grow their own fruits and vegetables and the opportunity to connect with their neighbors.  “It has become an anchor of the community building efforts outlined in the West Side Revitalization Plan,” says Christian Willauer, Neighborhood Planner for the West Side Grows Together initiative.  After this expansion, the garden will provide nearly 5,000 square feet of growing space to the community and accommodate over 50 families.

In 2013, the garden will grow into an innovative center of urban agriculture, almost tripling its original capacity.  Bright Spot Ventures, a social enterprise that employs and empowers youth aging out of the foster care system will cultivate 16 of the 24 new plots into a start-up urban farm.  “Our young people will develop horticultural knowledge and business skills by working on the farm and helping to run the farmer’s market this summer,” explains Michael McCafferty, Project Manager at Bright Spot Ventures.  Youth employed by Bright Spot Ventures help to manage several small businesses as a part of the unique job training program.  In 2011, they started the Wilmington Farmer’s Market at Cool Spring Park, which improves access to high-quality, locally grown produce for low-income families and has since become one of the city’s biggest farmer’s markets.  The Bright Spot Ventures farm is set to become a major vendor when the market’s season starts on June 20th of this year.

The agricultural initiative at Rodney Reservoir is part of a wider revitalization effort known as West Side Grows Together and is a collaboration between Bright Spot Ventures (a program of West End Neighborhood House) Cornerstone West, CDC and many other partners including Barclays Bank, the City of Wilmington, Cool Spring/Tilton Neighborhood Association, Delaware Center for Horticulture, the Delaware Department of Agriculture, EDiS, Hilltop/Little Italy Blueprint Community, Little Italy Neighborhood Association, Peninsula Compost Company and Public Allies Delaware.  In June, 2012, West Side Grows Together created and began to implement the West Side Revitalization Plan, which outlines a 10 year strategy to grow jobs, improve housing, create more opportunities for youth, promote public safety and build a stronger sense of community in West Side neighborhoods.

“Congratulations to all the people involved in that community and the West Side revitalization efforts,” says Delaware’s Secretary of Agriculture Edwin Kee.  “The Urban Farm at the Rodney Street Reservoir is a classic example of how urban farming not only generates great produce and fresh food, but also brings people together in a productive and fun way.  As Secretary of Agriculture for the whole state of Delaware I am thrilled that urban farming is so successful at the Rodney Street Reservoir and in the City of Wilmington.”