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DHSS Press Release

Rita Landgraf, Secretary
Jill Fredel, Director of Communications
302-255-9047, Pager 302-357-7498

Date: July 12, 2013


Delawareans with physical and visual disabilities will find few barriers at the newly expanded Planting Hope Garden on the Delaware Health and Social Services (DHSS) campus in New Castle.

Established in 2010, Planting Hope in Delaware is a public-private partnership that tends gardens to enhance the health and well-being of clients of the Delaware Psychiatric Center, employees of the Herman Holloway Campus, and residents of the surrounding communities. The campus employs approximately 1,000 people, and houses many Delaware Department of Health and Social Service divisions, including the Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health, the Division of Services for Aging and Adults with Physical Disabilities, and the Division for the Visually Impaired.

The gardens will be showcased during the Aug. 8 Garden Fair from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The family-friendly fair, which is free and open to the public, is hosted by DHSS and the Delaware Department of Agriculture. The event will offer recipes and samples, gardening presentations and panels, music, kids' activities and other entertainment. Attendees can learn about local sources of fresh produce, approaches to starting home gardens, and tools that make gardening easy for people of all abilities.

Other Garden Fair sponsors are Open Door, Inc., the Newark Bike Project, the University of Delaware's College of Health Sciences, Fit for Life, the Delaware Center for Horticulture, Gateway Gardens, Halpern Eye, Arbor Counseling Center, Gage Family Beekeepers, Green Heron Tools, First State Resource Conservation and Development Council, and the Peninsula Compost Company.

There are three sections to the 3,000-square-foot Planting Hope Garden: the Enabling Garden, the Sensory Garden and the Community Garden.

The Enabling Garden is a demonstration garden for garden accessibility. A wheelchair access ramp leads to a pergola designed and built by the Wood Shop at the Delaware Psychiatric Center. There, visitors can enjoy a shaded view of the garden. Gardeners can work the soil and tend the plants at raised beds with wheelchair accessibility and for gardening while standing. Easy-grip tools make the experience easier, especially to those with arthritis, or visual impairments. The Enabling Garden's design can be adopted by nursing homes, assisted care and adult day care centers, and other facilities that care for people with physical disabilities and older adults.

The Sensory Garden is a restorative space, designed with gentle stimuli for the senses and to promote mental well-being. It appeals to scent, as plants with fragrant flowers and leaves line the garden paths. Garden scents can be especially meaningful for individuals with visual impairments. Herbs are mixed in with the flowers and vegetables to provide a wide array of scents. Rose and lilac were chosen by clients of the Delaware Psychiatric Center.

Visitors are encouraged to touch varied leaves, from the thick and soft Lamb's Ear to the rough tomato plants. There is variety in the color and shape of flowers, with yellow goldenrod paired with scarlet cannas. Yellow, blue and green beans - some climbing a bean teepee -- add interesting visual elements. Heirloom tomatoes in hues of red, yellow and purple are sure to please taste buds, along with herbs such as basil, cilantro and fennel. Birdhouses, a bird bath and bird-attracting plants are placed throughout the area to bring birdsong to the Sensory Garden.

The Planting Hope Community and Market gardens consist of vegetable, herb and cut flower production areas. They have been designed to demonstrate companion planting, and space-saving features such as trellises. Since 2011, the Community and Market Gardens has yielded more than two tons of produce, of which 500 pounds have been donated to the Delaware Food Bank. Produce, flowers and herbs from the gardens are also incorporated into life skills classes at DPC. The Campus Market, located in the Springer Building lobby, is open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Friday.

Community garden plots are offered to Holloway Campus employees in return for volunteer work in the Gardens. The Terry Center Campus, which is part of the Delaware Department of Services for Children, Youth and their Families, is also a Planting Hope partner. Terry Center Campus children maintain a community garden plot and will take an active role in Garden Fair exhibits and activities.

For more information about the Garden Fair or Planting Hope in Delaware, visit or contact Faith Kuehn at 302-698-4587 or A Flickr photoset can be viewed at

Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware's citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations.