There may be frost on the ground, but spring is in the air at Wesley College.
The college is partnering with Restore Central Dover to establish a community garden that will allow area residents to grow their own vegetables over the coming year.
A meeting to bring elements of the community together to set up the garden will be held beginning at 5 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 2, at the Solid Rock Community Outreach Center, 111 N. West St.
“This is an opportunity to get the community involved and a chance to provide fresh produce for neighborhood residents,” Chanda Jackson said. Jackson is a community organizer for NCALL Research, a part of the Restoring Central Dover effort.
Those who want to take part will be guided by Stephanie Stotts, assistant professor of Environment Studies at Wesley College.
The garden itself will be set up on South Governors Avenue, behind the Thomas C. Roe Residence Hall.
Restoring Central Dover decided to join with Wesley after an attempt to set up a garden last year fell through.
“It just seemed lit a good fit, and that’s pretty much what happened,” Jackson said.
In establishing a community garden, Dover will be following the lead of other cities including Cleveland, Ohio, where a retired police officer set up gardens on city blocks vacated by the demolition of old buildings. It has been flourishing since 2012.
The Feb. 2 meeting will set up a community advisory board to outline the garden’s eventual design and what will be grown. In addition to Stotts, gardeners will be able to take advantage of experts with the Delaware State University’s College of Agriculture and Related Sciences.
A timeline also will be developed which includes when shovels will start turning ground, Jackson said.
“We’re hoping to get a number of residents to take part,” she said. Wesley environmental students also will help.
“Since I’ve been here, I’ve loved the idea of a community garden and getting people involved,” Stotts said. Partnering with members of the Dover community will allow the garden to continue over the summer while students are away between semesters, she added.
“It all seems like a perfect fit,” Stotts said. “We’ve got the space and the land and we’re right in the middle of central Dover.”
Putting the garden on the Wesley campus also allows for greater access students living nearby and for increased security, she aid.
“It gets good sunlight and because it’s close to a building, there’s water accessible,” Stotts said.
The garden will start out small, but has the capacity to grow to as large as 200 square feet, she said.
And in addition to providing food for people taking part in the project, the project gives Wesley’s environmental studies students the chance to get experience in a working outdoor garden.
Financing for the project will be provided through Restoring Central Dover, the Delaware Experimental Project to Stimulate Competitive Research Program funded through the National Science Foundation, the Delaware Economic Development Office and a National Science Foundation grant through Wesley’s Cannon Scholar Program.
Anyone who might want to donate gently used garden tools also would be welcome to do so, Stotts said.
Both Stotts and Jackson are hoping for a good turnout at Thursday’s meeting.
“We want to hear people’s ideas and how we can move forward,” Jackson said.