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Bringing back victory gardens

Emily Lytle * Delaware
elytle@doverpost.com
Dover Post

During World War II, families across the country responded to bare grocery store shelves by growing their own vegetables in what were called Victory Gardens. Today, many people face similar challenges due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Del-Mar-Va Council of Boy Scouts of America is bringing 1940s-style victory gardens back to the Dover area.

Families back then made gardens out of backyards, empty lots and on city rooftops. Now, more than 70 years later, the Boy Scouts have partnered with Kent County Levy Court to set aside 24 plots families can rent at Akridge Scout Reservation, south of Dover.

“The Akridge property is somewhat unique in the scouting world because of its location in a relatively urban neighborhood,” said J. Ray Teat, director of special projects for the Del-Mar-Va Council. “We are pleased to be able to offer these garden plots to the citizens of Kent County, both from within our scouting community and from surrounding neighborhoods.”

Clark Seed in Kenton, Willey Farms in Townsend, and Rose Valley Greenhouse in Dover have donated seeds and plants so far.

Anyone interested in growing vegetables while keeping up with social distancing guidelines, can reserve a plot for $25 at http://www.delmarvacouncil.org/victorygardens. They are 10 feet by 20 feet, and each one is separated by a 20-foot lane. Boy Scout volunteers have been mulching those paths.

Meanwhile, eight Scouts are working on their gardening merit badge and will be producing food for the Food Bank of Delaware. Any extra produce that families don’t need from their garden will go to the food bank.

How to get started

The ground has been tilled, the soil has been tested, and the Del-Mar-Va Council hopes to add fertilizer this week, Teat said. Planting can start around May 10.

Families can find a set of six steps and several online resources on the council website, which will help them get started. Mike McGrath, retired chief of planning for the Delaware Department of Agriculture, is volunteering as the education director, using the website, email and site visits to connect with families.

“It should involve some good instruction without having to break the social distancing requirements,” Teat said.

While 17 of the 24 plots have been leased, Teat said they will try to make room for anyone interested in the next couple weeks.

“We’re excited about it. It’s really a cool thing to do for families,” he said. “We plan to continue to do this, to offer this space, for as long as anyone wants to grow on it.”

Parking, tools, water, seeds and plants are all provided by the Del-Mar-Va Council. To donate, email info@dmvc.org.