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Proceeds Earmarked for Community Gardens Pavilion Construction

Third Annual Farm-to-Table Dinner Benefits Grow Food, Grow Hope

September 23, 2011

(ABOVE) Rachel King, one of Wilmington College's AmeriCorps*VISTA staffers, carries a basket of freshly picked vegetables to the winning bidder during an auction of items at the Farm-to-Table benefit dinner. (BELOW) Lee Hieronymus (right), a WC alumnus and member of the President's Advisory Committee recognizes Monte Anderson, professor of agriculture, as a mover and shaker behind the success of the College's agriculture program and the community gardens initiative.

(ABOVE) Rachel King, one of Wilmington College's AmeriCorps*VISTA staffers, carries a basket of freshly picked vegetables to the winning bidder during an auction of items at the Farm-to-Table benefit dinner. (BELOW) Lee Hieronymus (right), a WC alumnus and member of the President's Advisory Committee recognizes Monte Anderson, professor of agriculture, as a mover and shaker behind the success of the College's agriculture program and the community gardens initiative.

Funds raised from the third Farm-to-Table benefit dinner will go toward building an open-sided pavilion on the grounds of the College’s community gardens.

Plans for the $12,000 shelter house were announced Thursday (Sept. 22) after some 117 persons dined on a menu of fruit and vegetable dishes, cheese, chicken and pork that was all essentially produced locally.

Wilmington College and Sodexo Campus Services co-sponsored the annual event, which was held at the College Farm on Fife Ave.

Complementing funds raised from the admission price were silent and traditional auction proceeds. Also, Premier Services underwrote the cost of the dinner.

Tara Lydy, director of WC’s Center for Service and Civic Engagement, said the proposed pavilion would become an integral part of the Grow Food, Grow Hope Community Gardens initiative in teaching small plot vegetable gardening to local families whose breadwinners are unemployed or underemployed.

Pioneer High-Bred International Corp. gave a $4,000 grant as seed money for the structure, which Lydy said can provide for an enhanced gardens program.

During the weekly summer gatherings of families to tend to their individual 4 by 12-foot garden plots, Lydy regularly leads demonstrations on various ways to prepare such fresh items as radishes, beets, lettuce, squash and tomatoes.

A pavilion would provide a weather safe environment for the demonstrations and other activities.
Lydy spoke of Grow Food, Grow Hope’s success in introducing fresh vegetables to children.

“How do we sell that these are good things to eat? How do we excite children about these vegetables?” she said, noting the answer is the fact that children are directly involved with the gardens. “It’s hands-on from day one.”

Indeed those children see their parents plant, tend, weed and harvest their gardens, activities in which many of the children are joyfully engaged. Lydy took that experience a step further to say they are in “the community-building” business.

“That is the heart of Grow Food, Grow Hope.”'

WC interim President Jim Reynolds welcomed College alumni and friends.

“I want you to think of the College as still your home — there’s always a door open for you,” he said.

Grow Food, Grow Hope is a community gardens project initiated by Wilmington College for Wilmington and Clinton County. The goal of the project is to use local agricultural resources to address community needs resulting from the area’s current economic challenges.

Its central purpose is to increase the capacity of our citizens to provide food for their families. Toward that end, the Community Gardens Project is creating a network of community food producers who can supply food to those in need and to local markets.

Since 2009, the College has received funding for an AmeriCorps VISTA program that works with a coalition of community leaders to pursue two primary objectives: to generate a renewed interest in small plot and backyard gardening through education and community outreach, and to improve access of all community members to adequate, affordable and nutritious food.

The centerpiece of the project is a series of 40 4-by-12 foot small plot gardens on College land. The purpose of the gardens is to teach preselected families and individuals how to grow their own vegetables and supplement their food needs. Seeds, seedlings, tools and assistance are provided.

Other components of the project include producing vegetables on College farmland for donation to local food pantries, holding a year around farmers market, promoting backyard gardening and an edible landscaping project around public buildings, creating a growers co-op, supporting the area’s “Buy Local First Clinton County” campaign and offering youth outreach activities.