Spaces to Places

Transforming Public Spaces into Vibrant Places for the Community.

Finding the Right Spot for a Community Garden

Written by Evan McMillan, Community Affairs Director, Wilmington Regional Association of REALTORS®

The Wilmington Regional Association of REALTORS® (WRAR) is partnering with the Wilmington Housing Authority, Wilmington Green, a local non-profit, and the Interfaith Refugee Ministry to launch a project to create a sustainable model for creating community gardens in the Wilmington-area.

After surveying several neighborhoods and determining community interest, WRAR will be building the inaugural community garden on an empty lot owned by the Devon Park United Methodist Church, which is thrilled to offer their space for the garden. Local REALTORS® will pitch in on April 7, 2015 to help with the building of the garden.

Site of Community Garden

This particular garden is special for a number of reasons. The WRAR and its aforementioned partners will be creating a communal place for residents to gather and garden, including a group of refugees from Burma who are currently learning English through the Devon Park United Methodist Church. With backgrounds and skills in gardening and farming, we hope this garden will be a way for the refugees to feel at home in their new neighborhood and to create community cohesion.

At the heart of the Placemaking is the sense of creating opportunities for neighborhoods to thrive together, and we believe this project will help bring people of varying backgrounds together through a shared love of gardening and of place. And…the project has the support of the community where polling has shown an overwhelming positive response.

The lot is currently maintained, but not in use for any particular purpose. The community garden will transform this underutilized space into a functional place for the community to gather and reap the benefits from their labors. An existing picnic shelter will provide shade, seating and a place to relax for both the gardeners and those who stop by to enjoy the garden’s offerings. And the garden will make the shelter more welcoming.

Site of Community Garden

The final plan includes 18 - 8’ x 20’ raised garden beds, a tool shed and compost bins. With funding from NAR’s Placemaking Micro-Grant and a match from WRAR, we will be able to purchase the wood, tools, soil, seeds and starter plants to get the garden going.

Wilmington Green will operate the garden once completed, and the Devon Park community has been very enthusiastic about the prospect of having this garden in their shared “backyard”.


Community Outreach Programs

Housing Opportunity Grant
Housing Opportunity Grants support state and local REALTOR® Associations’ affordable housing activities. The goal of the program is to position REALTORS® as leaders in improving their communities by creating affordable housing

Smart Growth Grant
Smart growth is an approach to development that encourages a mix of building types and uses, diverse housing and transportation options, development within existing neighborhoods, and community engagement. The Smart Growth Program offers state and local REALTOR® Associations to way to engage with government officials, community partners and the general public in planning and designing community’s future.

Planned diversity initiatives makes good business sense. REALTOR® Associations with well-planned diversity programs create a stronger sense of community, particularly in neighborhoods with high concentrations of foreign-born and minority residents who are moving up the socioeconomic ladder and are buying homes.

NAR Placemaking Resources

Placemaking Guide: A Guide to Transform a Public Space into a Community Place
REALTORS® and state and local association staff can learn the details of Placemaking, the kinds of projects placemaking entails, how to organize them, and where to go for assistance and resources.

Placemaking Webinar Series
Our Placemaking Webinar Series will provide more in depth information on the various types of Placemaking and how REALTORS® were involved in Placemaking activities in their communities.

Placemaking Grant
The Placemaking Grant funds the creation of new public spaces, like pocket parks, trails & gardens, in a community. The grant focuses on “lighter, cheaper, quicker” placemaking projects, which can be built under a year and cost less  than $200,000.

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Smart Growth

The healthier a community, the better the environment for REALTORS®. Keeping a community attractive, livable and functioning well is a complex task.