Salisbury University students and local Salisbury community members rallied around the city's Camden Community Garden Saturday afternoon.
The volunteer event was organized and led by Pastor Martin Hutchison, who is regarded as the "Secretary of Community Gardens" for the City of Salisbury.
Hutchison saw the need for accessible, inexpensive produce in Salisbury, and his passion for gardening inspired him to provide nearby neighborhoods with healthy foods through the Camden Community Garden.
“It was a dream and an idea that I had about seven to eight years ago," Hutchinson said. "It took about a year to get it off the ground, to get the city to agree to lease us a vacant lot, [which] was filled with dog poop and trash, and … it was an opportunity to use a gift that I had, that I liked to do [and] to be a blessing in a community."
According to Hutchison, the garden, located across from the soon-to-be-opened Newton Street Community Center, not only serves as an opportunity to provide produce to community members, but it also serves as a safe space for children’s programs in the summer.
These summer programs work to provide children in nearby neighbors with activities and meals during the summer.
“A lot of these kids in the neighborhood get free or reduced lunch at school, and then, when they’re home for the summer, that dries up and it’s a challenge, so [the garden] provides that meal, that one meal a day, for these students,” Hutchinson said.
According to Hutchison, volunteers work on Saturdays to maintain the garden, which can prove to be a tedious task.
Hence, Hutchison enjoyed having SU student volunteers help him and his fellow community members move compost onto the garden beds.
SU honors student Lindsey Ward, a senior, was also happy help and support an important cause: supporting Salisbury community members with fresh produce.
Ward hoped her involvement and volunteerism would inspire other SU students to do the same.
“I wanted to … do my part, and just come out and help and show people that it’s not just about school; it’s about the community that you’re in as well,” Ward said.
Abbey Murphy, another SU honors student, was also happy to volunteer her time to help the Salisbury community.
As a freshman, Murphy felt this opportunity was especially important, as it strengthened her connection with the community during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I’m definitely grateful these opportunities-It’s really cool to become a part of the community seeing as I’m not from around this area," Murphy said. "[Volunteering] is definitely good, and it gives me a sense of purpose as a student.”
In addition to contributing to a worthy cause, Murphy felt interacting with fellow volunteers was the best part of her day.
“Everyone just has such a positive attitude," Murphy said. "Everyone is so welcoming and ready to help, and it’s contagious."
According to Hutchison, there will be more volunteer opportunities for SU students in the future. To learn more about the Camden Community Garden, visit their Facebook page. Camden Community Garden | Facebook
By OLIVIA BALLMANN
Photo images by Olivia Ballmann