The Secret Garden is run by The Delaware Center for Horticulture and the Ministry of Caring

Preschoolers from the Ministry of Caring Child Care Center in Wilmington have been playing and learning in the nearby Secret Garden since 1996.

The Secret Garden, a partnership between the ministry and The Delaware Center for Horticulture, is a place for less fortunate inner-city kids to experience activities that they otherwise wouldn’t get to do. The children plant peas, carrots, tomatoes and flowers and later get to harvest and eat the fruits of their labor.

“They love to dig in the dirt and look for worms,” says Marcia Stephenson of The DCH. “It’s their only opportunity to do something like this. Most of them don’t have home gardens or very little greening space of their own.”

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The garden is a place where children can establish a sense of ownership and build self-esteem. Eight volunteers visit every other Friday and deliver education in the garden or in a nearby classroom.

“The volunteers get a tremendous amount of joy out of the experience,” Stephenson says. “It’s a very cool thing.”

During its Rare Plant Auction in April, The DCH began raising funds for a planned garden overhaul by allowing guests to buy tickets to vote for one of four designs donated by local designers. (   —D.O.

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