A weed-strewn afterthought of land in Northeast Wilmington is blooming into a vibrant community store where residents of the Riverside neighborhood will have access to a variety of healthy foods, locally grown produce, and fresh fruit drinks.
When the store officially opens next spring, it will be housed in a refurbished 20-foot shipping container as part of a larger community space situated just north of the Kingswood Community Center’s parking lot.
US Sen. Tom Carper joined Logan Herring of the Kingswood and several other community store partners yesterday at a green ribbon cutting ceremony to kick off the installation of the site and its significance in an area populated by expensive corner stores and fast food.
Teens at Kingswood will work in the center’s community garden to grow lots of fresh vegetables and fruit, which will be for sale at the community store. The garden is managed in partnership with Wilmington’s Planting to Feed, which emphasizes youth involvement. Cold-pressed juices from Wilmington Green Box and items supplied by other local community gardens will also be offered.
In addition to the store, the space includes a 40-foot re-worked shipping container that will be used for community and teen activities and events. A wood-plank deck will also be constructed that will tie the areas together.
“This project will expose our local teens to the reality of what is involved in bringing real food to the table, the ins and outs of running a business and the hard work and lessons learned when Mother Nature is in charge,” says Kingswood Community Engagement Manager Shardae White.
Alongside the gardening team and purveyors, several other community organizations and businesses supported the effort. Wilmington Placemakers designed the containers and deck and a youth group from the Challenge Program built the deck. The Delaware Center for Justice funded the majority of the containers and decking projects.
The Wilmington Renaissance Corporation secured and funded renowned mural artist Eric Okdeh to create a large-scale mural on the brick wall of the Kingswood Community Center. And Artist Smashed Label painted whimsical images of children — some with book bags — eating fruit on the exteriors of the containers.
“Most kids in the Riverside Community rarely see a bounty of fresh vegetables and fruit, and even fewer are aware of the extraordinary benefits of eating well,” said Kingswood’s Logan Herring.”Teens will have a significant role in managing the store. And the entire process will help inspire kids to think about eating nutrient-rich foods and living healthy lives,” he said.