OC Committee Hears Pitch For Community Gardens

OCEAN CITY – Plans are underway to propose a new community garden at two possible locations in Ocean City.

Ocean City’s Coastal Resources Legislative Committee, also known as the Green Team, made a motion at its Sept. 14 meeting to create a subcommittee for the proposed gardens.

Leading the team is community resident Tyler Dark, who came before the committee with the idea.

According to Committee Chair and Councilman Tony DeLuca, the subcommittee could look into locations at 4th Street and Northside Park, creating options for residents of Ocean City’s north and south locations.

Dark says Northside Park was his first choice for the garden’s location, where sunshine is abundant and the views are scenic.

Dark says he has approached more than 14 businesses in the Ocean City area for sponsorships. No money has yet to come from these talks.

“It is hard to convince anybody to do anything concrete, like a sponsorship or donation, when it’s as up in the air as it is,” Dark says.

A GoFundMe page has been set up to raise money for the proposed gardens. As of Sept. 15, $130 of the $1,000 goal has been met.

Environmental consultant Tom Murray proposed that restaurants could sponsor the project by bringing compost to the garden in exchange for fresh produce for its business.

Dark says most of the steps he received from the American Community Garden Association will be implemented in creating the proposed garden.

If the idea comes to fruition, Dark says the garden could have orchards, fountains, landscaping and locally sourced foods from various cultures.

The cost for a community garden ranges from $2,500 to $5,000 and will include irrigation systems, tools, a shed, pathways, composting area and more.

Dark says he thinks costs could remain closer to $2,500 with the help of local hardware stores and other resources that he has already reached out to.

Dark proposes that those residents who wish to use the garden can pay a yearly non-refundable fee of $50.

Senior citizens and children are the targeted beneficiaries of the garden, Dark says, and can gain service learning and volunteer hours for their involvement.

“Despite the thriving agricultural resources around Ocean City, the gardening options on the island itself are limited,” Dark said to the committee. “Citizens would have access to a garden of their own or the ability to nurture one.”

Dark will now be looking to other community gardens in Berlin, Ocean Pines, and Pocomoke City for ideas and help before bringing his findings to the committee.

“We rely on out-of-town commerce to keep our community sustained and thriving, but I think we are long overdue for something different,” Dark says on his GoFundMe page.

The proposed community garden will count as a sustainable practice, giving Ocean City more points towards its Maryland Sustainable Community certification.

The community garden, which will be located on public property, will give the town 15 points in that certification effort.

Nothing has been approved, but the subcommittee will look into roadblocks, steps and possible funding options.

The proposed garden could be eligible for grant money if the project is successful, according to committee member Sandi Smith, who works for the Maryland Coastal Bays Program.

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.