In the heart of the Creekwood Community in Wilmington, the smell of fresh dirt and the sounds of construction flowed out into the neighborhood just as students were getting home from school. With each shovel of dirt and plenty of hope in their hearts, Cape Fear staff and volunteers worked to create a total of eight raised community garden beds. As some residents in the Creekwood Community are just now returning to their apartments after Hurricane Florence five years ago, the hope is that the new garden beds will provide them with fresh, nutritious vegetables.

In addition, Catholic Charities Disaster Specialist Vickie Sasser said organizations have worked on projects inside and outside the homes. One partner, The Green Chair Project based in Raleigh, helped furnish apartments with basic needs. “The Wilmington Housing Authority, the extension office, Catholic Charities, and many community partners came together to collaborate to make this successful…many volunteers,” said Sasser.

It’s a project not only of cultivating vegetables but also sowing seeds of unity. Volunteer Anne Wells said volunteering benefits everyone. “It’s helped me in my faith, helped me to live my faith better, and I have a closer relationship with it now that I’m really putting it into action.”  This is the second community gardens vision the Cape Fear Regional Office staff and volunteers created in Wilmington.  The first gardens were built in The Village at Greenfield, adding to other gardens created by Catholic Charities groups in Durham and Greenville.

Vickie Sasser said the garden beds symbolize a fresh start for many residents in Creekwood, especially those who’ve gone through a natural disaster. “We’re hoping that these garden beds will bring them many years of fresh vegetables and as they continue to plant that they are reminded that they’ve come through that natural disaster.”

Catholic Charities Cape Fear Regional Office Director Emilie Hart explained money for the neighborhood gardens came from the New Hanover County Endowment Fund but says the gardens are really made possible by all the hands, sweat, muscle, and hard work that will bring them to life.

Dan Fisher who works in construction for Catholic Charities said, he loves every minute of the work, especially seeing the outcome. “I love the feeling when you get through, it’s special, like a party.” Neighbors will surely celebrate when they begin planting and then reaping their first harvests from the new community gardens!