URBAN FARMING: A TOMATO GROWS ON MARKET
Nature abhors a vacuum. Humans love fresh tomatoes. In light of these basic truths, a garden on Market should never have been considered unlikely. It was perhaps inevitable.
The idea first germinated in the middle of winter. A residents’ association meeting provided fertile ground, upon which Mark Fields (resident of 2nd & LOMA) and Pat Shay (resident of the Residences at Rodney Square) tended to its early needs. They found open land between Sports Connection and the new Twisted Soul restaurant on the 400 block of Market. Sports Connection owner Julia Han donated the space. They found funding from the Delaware Department of Agriculture and The Buccini/Pollin Group. Pat agreed to shepherd the project forward. But they needed hands to tend the garden.
Pat: "We put the call out to all the residents. Within a half hour, I started getting emails. We ended up with 12 beds to begin with and 12 different gardeners.”
Those first 12 pioneers included 11 residents from buildings up and down Market Street and one local chef, Bryan Sikora of La Fia. Together, they planted the Market Street Community Garden on the first days of June.
“We planted everything -- zucchini and eggplant and tomatoes and cucumbers and herbs and cantaloupe and watermelon and everything. One of our gardeners actually has stalks of corn planted."
City farming has its advantages.
"We haven't had any rabbits, we haven't had any varmints, we haven't had anything in there stealing our vegetables."
That first Market Street Community Garden growing season is now coming to an end. Organizers plan to add another six beds for next spring (gardeners need to apply, and there’s a waiting list). But the garden won’t go dormant until then. Pat plans to put garlic in the soil this fall with an eye toward an April harvest. Even in the dead of a city winter, something will grow.