There is an increasing need to increase agriculture awareness in urban areas of Delaware; to address food access issues and make nutritious and affordable foods available to all Delawareans; to teach urban communities to grow, eat and demand fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables using best management practices; and, to improve sense of community as well as aesthetics of urban spaces.
The University of Delaware New Castle County Cooperative Extension has responded to this issue in a multiplicity of ways.
- Consistent, on-site technical assistance to individuals, communities, and/or schools interested in growing their own food.
- Soil testing and plant diagnostic clinic services.
- With the help of our well-trained volunteer educators, including the Master Gardeners, Composters, and Food Educators, educational programs have included presentations, and workshops and demonstrations.
- Our teaching gardens, surrounding the County office, have been designed to serve as an example of maximized, small-scale vegetable and fruit production (backyard, community, or small-scale commercial production), and to demonstrate good growing techniques.
- We have partnered with, and provided support to, the Nemours 4H garden, CANR Garden for the Community, the Food Bank of Delaware, the Delaware Department of Agriculture, Delaware Health and Social Services, the Delaware Center for Horticulture, WILMAPCO and the Southbridge Community, Duffy’s Hope, many school gardens, amongst others.
Program Impact (April 1 2012 to March 31, 2013) will focus on Workshops
In this time period, Master Gardeners offered the following urban agriculture topics in workshops and presentations throughout the County: starting seeds, growing fruit, vegetables and herbs, composting, water conservation, and integrated pest management. Master Gardeners also offered three open houses in their teaching gardens, and collaborated with the Master Food Educators in A Day in the Garden. Altogether, more than 300 community members participated in effort, concentrating on food gardening and best management practices.
As a result, community members who completed evaluations reported that they:
- Would test their soil.
- Understood when it might be necessary to amend their soil.
- Would pay attention to invasive plant issues.
- We’re more aware of how tenacious invasive plants are.
- Would use the information they learned. One workshop attendee commented, “I really know nothing about gardening and this has been a big help to get started.”
- Would try to plan ahead; invest time in garden planning.
- Would implement better pruning practices, at the right time of year.
- Would practice integrated pest management.
- Would watch for beneficial insects, and check the undersides of the leaves for insect pests.
- Would use the services (i.e. the soil testing lab and plant diagnostic clinic) at the University.
- Would try biological controls to reduce pest populations in their gardens.