Sussex Consortium garden project has strong roots

By Glenn Rolfe
Posted 12/24/21

LEWES — An encompassing chapter in horticulture at the Sussex Consortium is growing through supportive seeds planted from within the area, by the Milford Elks, business and agricultural …

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Sussex Consortium garden project has strong roots


LEWES — An encompassing chapter in horticulture at the Sussex Consortium is growing through supportive seeds planted from within the area, by the Milford Elks, business and agricultural communities.

Earlier this month, the Milford Elks presented a $5,500 check in support of the garden project at the consortium, a school within the Cape Henlopen School District that serves children, ages 3 to 21, with autism from throughout all of Sussex County.

“We wanted to start a garden project that would encompass all of them, from planting seeds to our oldest kids who could harvest the vegetables and/or flowers, and sell it, and be able to learn about economics, the buying and growing, and everybody learning about eating what they grow and all of the wonderful things that a horticulture program has with it,” said Sussex Consortium Principal Dr. Vivian Bush.

“We had asked, when we moved into our new building, for anyone who knew anyone with a greenhouse,” said Dr. Bush.

Cordrey’s East Coast Garden Center responded, donating a huge greenhouse. “We are forever in their debt,” Dr. Bush said.

Raised beds for plants became a project of the consortium’s high school-aged students.

Then came the need for a shed.

Through family ties, the Milford Elks answered with two separate grants — one for $3,000 and another for $2,500. That covered the shed, additional raised beds and tools.

Christina Strunk — daughter of current Milford Elks president/exalted ruler John Sammons and Cyndee Sammons, secretary and past president of the Milford Elks — is a paraprofessional at the Sussex Consortium. The family is very active in Special Olympics Delaware.

“Our daughters are very much into working with children and adults with intellectual and physical disabilities,” said Ms. Sammons. “We (Elks) were looking for things to do to be able to give back to the community. Christina let me know what was going on at the consortium, and this project that they were doing.”

Support from the Elks will be ongoing. One Elks member is donating soil and “we have other farmers that are members that will lend any help they can as they get this project going,” Ms. Sammons said.

“So, we’re going to pretty much stay involved with them over the next five to seven years. We look at projects as long term to help them with anything they need going forward from a grant perspective,” said Ms. Sammons.

Linda Corcoran, a certified occupation therapy assistant who recently retired from the consortium, oversees the garden project.

So, the seeds of preparation have been sown.

“Now, we just need winter to go away, and we will be starting our greenhouse program,” said Dr. Bush. “It is going to be beautiful.”

Additionally, the Milford Elks have adopted two needy families for the holidays, and beyond.

“They have been so kind,” Dr. Bush said. “They are adopting two families for the whole year.”

Milford Elks is also a loyal supporter of Special Olympics Delaware.

“We have the Young Athletes Program and over the last five years we have bought all of the equipment for that program here in Milford,” said Ms. Sammons, noting their oldest daughter is a director with SODE.

“We will help where we can,” Ms. Sammons said. “So, we are probably one of the least-known fraternal organizations that does a lot in the community.”