The Delta Health Alliance

Sowing Seeds: Construction of Community Garden Underway from the Delta Business Journal e-newsletter

Posted on: March 15, 2013

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Sowing seeds: Construction of community garden underway
By: Amber Wright



If you take a cruise down Fifth Avenue this week, you may witness the birth of a beautiful new life.

Construction of the DSU Wiley Community Garden will be in progress during Delta State University’s spring break.

The property where the garden will be located was donated to the university by the Wiley family of the late Roy Wiley, who was a professor emeritus at DSU.

The foundation was happy to run with the new Director of Facilities Management Robert Turner’s idea for a community garden as the site’s new purpose.

“It’s hard for me to think of the Delta without considering gardening because we’re out here in this sea of agriculture,” said Turner.

As the old house was demolished and cleared for the garden plot, a team for the project naturally — and rapidly — formed.

“This project has really come together rather quickly,” said Lacey Fitts, instructor of science education at Delta State.

According to Fitts, the garden is a big, team effort involving professors and students from the art department as well as the science education program, a university biologist and Cleveland community members.

Fits said that Ryan Betz, who works with Delta Health Alliance as well as Delta Fresh Foods, was the perfect candidate for spearheading this project and he has been the main organizer.

Betz has worked to develop 60-plus community gardens throughout the Delta and is especially excited about his involvement with the DSU Wiley Community Garden.

“I think it’s going to be a wonderful opportunity to educate the Delta State community,” said Betz. “I can see this being a long-term success, especially since Lacey will be using the garden in the science education curriculum.

“With her student teachers coming and going through the program, they will in turn maybe end up at a school that has a teaching garden and will be equipped to work there or if their school doesn’t have a garden they will make great advocates to get one started,” he explained.

“Ryan and I have been working really hard on k-12 lesson plans that incorporate the use of a teaching garden,” said Fitts.

Betz also works closely with the Cleveland Farmer’s Market, and he said that they have equipment such as gardening tools and a shed that they purchased with past grant money that will be of great use for the new garden.

According to Fitts, the greenhouse on campus is already housing some seedlings that were planted recently and they will be moved to the garden as soon as the preparations are completed.

Weather permitting, DSU Facilities Management will be pouring concrete for the shed as well as building 12 20 feet by 4 feet-raised beds this week at the garden site.

All kinds of produce can be expected to be springing up from the soil in the upcoming months — beans, peas, kale, squash, mustard, radishes and carrots — to name a few.

“This is going to be a very unique experience for Delta State,” said Turner. “Right now we want to make it beautiful and get it started and then see it really progress and take off for the DSU community and maybe even beyond for the Cleveland community.”

According to Fitts, they have been very frugal in their spending with this project; however, Delta Health Alliance has donated a generous sum of money to the project that will be used in the construction of the garden.

Donations from community members are encouraged and welcomed. They can be directed to Delta State University via Robert Turner in facilities management.

For more information and updates on the garden’s progress, visit DSU Wiley Community Garden on Facebook.