The community garden that has been a fixture in Northeast Central Durham for almost 20 years is moving into a new facility by mid November. SEEDS’ new 5,000 square foot building will change the landscape of the garden and how it interacts with the community.
Executive Director Emily Egge wanted to implement “Engaged Design” to make the garden the focal point. One way to make this happen was to change the entrance. The new entrance will be located around the corner on N Elizabeth St. which will channel visitors and participants through the garden to the new facility.
The old building, much smaller at 3,000 square feet, was built circa 1910. Only part of the building still stands and will be used in new construction.
“We wanted to use some of the old materials but they were just unfit building materials. But we plan to use the old trusses for decoration,” said Egge.
The new space has many sustainable energy design elements.
All the lights will be LEDs and there will be solar tubes installed in the offices to let in natural light.
The roof is designed so water run-off will fill cisterns and be used for the gardens. Solar panels will be placed on the roof to generate electricity to heat water. The cost of the panels was around $10,000.
The building will have office space, three class rooms, and a teaching kitchen. One classroom will have recycled basketball court flooring from Durham Academy.
The kitchen will have two islands and ranges that will accommodate 20 to 30 kids. The bigger kitchen was designed to have a better ability to teach a larger audience about good cooking and eating habits.
Input from Durham Inner city Gardens (DIG), the youth program at SEEDS, included a walk-in cooler to more effectively store their crops.
The majority of the front of the building facing N Elizabeth St. will be glass store-front style.
SEEDs did not own the property they are building on until recently. With the backing of a private donor and other individuals, they raised enough money to start the $1 million project.
When asked how the new building will impact the community Egge said, “The new building offers a new expansion of the idea of getting food to the plate.”
Started in 1994 as a transitional program for homeless men at 706 Gilbert St. in NECD, SEEDS has moved forward. They have implemented new programs targeting children and youth in order to spur interest in gardening and provide a safe learning environment.
The area they service is federally designated as a food desert and the aim of the organization is to enable better access to locally grown food.
In 2000, SEEDS’ pilot children’s program, DIG, was created as not just an opportunity to learn how to garden, but also as an entrepreneurial venture.
DIG’s teen participants grow and sell their garden yield at all the Durham Farmers Market locations in order to make the crop more readily available to the community. They are taught good business practices and healthy food choices that are intended to trickle down into the general public.