By Belinda Krause, Executive Director, Realtors® Commercial Alliance of the Palm Beaches and Treasure Coast
In the last couple of years, the Realtors® Commercial Alliance of the Palm Beaches and Treasure Coast (RCA), which is the commercial division of the Realtors® Association of the Palm Beaches (RAPB) has focused on providing our members with volunteer opportunities throughout Southeast Florida. This was conducted at the direction of our Community Outreach Committee Chair, Realtor® Paul Snitkin. In the past we participated in Thanksgiving food drives; volunteered often at the local county food bank and other community food distribution centers; and held several build days for Habitat for Humanity.
Upon learning of NAR Placemaking Micro-grant, we decided that we would like to participate in a placemaking project by helping to build a community garden. At that point, our RCA Director, REALTOR® Christina Morrison connected us with the Delray Beach Garden Committee, which was in the process of raising funds to start their Gladiolus Education Garden.
We met with representatives of the Garden Committee to learn about their vision for the garden and to find out how we could help. “Our vision for the Gladiolus Education Garden is a thriving oasis within an urban landscape… the project will create a gathering place for community members to engage with nature, garden educators, and their neighbors in a variety of ways,” said Garden Committee Member Pablo del Real. The preliminary layout for the garden included a well, education pavilion, communal garden area, native plants area, fruit tree plantings and a walk-through pergola.
We decided that we liked the idea of building a permanent structure for the garden so we chose the pergola project. We applied for a Placemaking Micro-grant and were awarded the grant with the request that the pergola included seating. Of course we embraced this concept and went to work on coordinating our first build day which was April 17th.
RCA Members, Garden Committee members and students from the Toussaint L’Overture High School met at the garden site, which was a double empty lot with nothing but sand and weeds, to start the work. After a few more mornings of braving the south Florida heat, we completed the project on May 22nd.
“The Gladiolus Education Garden will allow the children of Delray Beach, Florida to learn how various foods are grown and will provide a real “garden to table” healthy-food experience for them and their families. The pergola and benches provide a beautiful and comfortable resting area for those working in and visiting the garden,” said Christina Morrison.
The pergola was the first structure to be built in the garden. We plan on keeping in contact with the Garden Committee to see how we can help them finish the overall garden project.