Food Bank, veterans partner for growing experience

June 2, 2015

Christina Moore, activities therapist, shows off the new beds at the Delaware Veterans Home.

Christina Moore, activities therapist, shows off the new beds at the Delaware Veterans Home.

By Gwen Guerke, Communications Coordinator

In mid-April, the Food Bank of Delaware built raised garden beds inside a courtyard of one of its neighbors. These gardens are specifically for residents of the Delaware Veterans Home located about a half mile away on the other side of Airport Road in Milford.

The wood-framed garden beds are wheelchair accessible, making it easier for residents not only to harvest, but also to plant and weed and simply enjoy.

The beds were installed by Matthew Talley, the Food Bank of Delaware’s Produce Access Coordinator, who also planted strawberries, herbs, lettuce and tomatoes as part of the inaugural crop.

Nancy Gelven, activities coordinator, and Christina Moore, activities therapist, were delighted to see the garden fixtures in place, as was Cindy Schaap, volunteer services coordinator.

“We have been attempting gardens for many years,” said Nancy, noting that the height will encourage residents to get involved.

These gardens are meant to be sustainable throughout Delaware’s growing season.

“Matthew also left us with more seeds, tools and even gloves,” she said, pointing to a large bench-like box loaded with gardening supplies.

Beets, corn, carrots, sweet peppers and radish seeds were also planted in flats, so there are seedlings to transplant.

“The guys really like it,” said Nancy, noting that residents discussed what they wanted to grow.

“There’s just nothing like getting your hands in the dirt.”

In addition to enjoying the bounty of the garden, Nancy said it offers other opportunities.

“The residents are looking to give back. They will use some, and what we don’t use will go back to the food bank,” she said.

Talley said that all local gardeners are also invited to share their home-grown produce through the Plant-a-Row program.

“The Food Bank is moving towards a model that incorporates more fresh fruits and vegetables in addition to the traditional shelf-stable and non-perishable goods,” he added.

If your organization is interested in starting a community garden to benefit the Food Bank through the Plant-a-Row for the Hungry Initiative, please contact Matthew Talley at (302) 292-1305 ext 249 or via email at for ideas and support. You can also visit

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