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Restoring Central Dover/Wesley College Community Garden Turns to Art

Posted September 29th, 2020 at 2:20pm

The RCD/Wesley College community garden is a cooperative garden that grows produce for the local community, offers workshops for children and adults, and helps local residents start gardens of their own. The garden was founded in 2017 and is a collaboration of Wesley College, Delaware State University, and NCALL/Restoring Central Dover.

The community garden is nestled behind a residence hall on the Wesley College campus – a perfect place for a garden but not a visible site for the community. Hoping to raise its profile, the garden, with financial assistance from the Delaware Sea Grant, had planned to engage the community to paint a three-story outdoor mural on the Wesley College residence hall adjacent to the garden. But then the pandemic hit and put that project on indefinite hold. Undeterred, plans were scaled down to provide art kits free of charge to community members to design and paint mini-murals in the safety of their homes that, when finished, could be install on the garden’s fence in the spring to add color to the space and welcome the new growing season. Funds from the Delaware Sea Grant financed the revised plan.

The kits – poster boards, paints, and brushes – were snatched up almost immediately, and most of the murals are now finished. They reflect the wonderful diversity of the Dover community. The artists include children, college students, and adults. Some of the artists are trained; many of them are dipping in their paint brushes for the first time. But every participant enthusiastically embraced the community garden’s mission not just of growing good food but also of growing community unity and welcoming all to enjoy and support nature and each other.

One mural features a tree with handprint leaves made by a four-year old and a seven-year old. Another painted by a college student is the image of a honeybee made of flower petals. There are murals that invite the viewer into secret gardens and magical spaces. Flowers, butterflies, and rainbows abound. Several murals represent their creators’ struggles with personal crisis, racism, climate change, and the pandemic, with the positive message that these struggles can be overcome through friendship, strength, and creativity. The slogan on one of the murals, “Grow with what you go through,” speaks for many of these artists.

Before they go into winter storage, the Downtown Dover Partnership has arranged for the murals to be installed in the storefront windows of the Dover Art League beginning on First Friday, October 2. The community garden is sure that Lockerman Street will be brightened by the display and the public will be uplifted by what they see.

For Immediate Release
For additional information contact Fran Riddle, frances.riddle@comcast.net; 302-674-5042
Mural Artists