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Island Inn & Commons Landscaping Project

The desire for a dedicated green space at the center of our community inspired OPS's Island Inn & Commons landscaping project. Due to the hard work and dedication of amazing volunteers, Ocracoke now has a thriving public green space in the heart of the village.

2023: Planting A Vision

Over the course of 2023, the outermost corner of the property was radically transformed by a group of local volunteers into a vibrant green space, complete with pathways, park benches and a picnic area. In phase one of a three phase plan, the main garden of the Island Inn Commons has become a place that invites social connection, nurtures biodiversity and reduces the impact of climate change. 


The Commons has enjoyed immense local support. In 2023, the Landscape Committee raised $66,000 through sponsorships, contributions, events, and generous in-kind donations. Our total expenses were $42,565. Because so much labor was donated, 70% of the project budget was used for garden supplies - plants, soil, lumber, displays and irrigation.

Progress was made in two additional areas in 2023. OPS is partnering with the Ocracoke Civic and Business Association to construct a public restroom facility on the property, the only one in the village. It is sited in the back corner of the main garden, adjacent to a shady picnic area, with accessible pathways leading to the building from the garden. The project got underway in September and should be operational by Spring 2024. The committee has also completed landscaping in the adjacent “McDermott Greenway,” a shaded property that boarders Highway 12 across the street from the main garden and Island Inn building. Volunteers planted daffodil bulbs, stands of crocosmia, and sewn grass seed. Four benches and two arbors complete this new oasis.


Plans For 2024

The main priorities for 2024 are continued landscaping, the installation of a pergola, and construction of a garden shed for work and storage. In addition to $20K rolled over from 2023, there has been $15,000 committed so far in sponsorships. The Landscaping Committee will continue to raise sponsorships, host events and engage in partnerships to raise the remaining $50K of the 2024 budget.

In 2024, the fig orchard will be re-installed in a dynamic design and the area around the bathrooms will be landscaped. Final landscaping will require additional planting of trees, shrubs, and perennials, irrigation, packing sand material for pathways, and topsoil material for the orchard and new bedding areas. Benches will be installed along the new pathways and as well as vine-covered shade arbors.

A large pergola will serve as a passageway from the main garden to the rest of the site. The design work has been completed pro bono by architect Garick Kalna. With four benches, tables and an overhead covering, this will be a unique and shaded place for events. 


A shed is also needed to house tools and supplies, serve as a potting shed, and function as a workspace. 


For And By The Community

Nearly all sponsors and donors are local residents, including families that have been on the island for generations. In July, we received $5K from The Ocracoke Community Foundation. The auctioning of 20 Ocracoke Alive art panels in October raised close to $5000. Events like the Spaghetti Dinner, Pancake Breakfast and Fish Fry brought in $13K. Nearly all the work on the Commons has been done by volunteers: folks who come regularly to clear, weed and plant, as well as vital contributions of skilled labor.

The work has also benefitted from many vital partnerships. Southern Rain LLC, a landscape company from Pittsboro, North Carolina, did most of the planting labor pro bono. The owner of Southern Rain, Kathy Koss, has deep ties to the Ocracoke community, is a regular island visitor and has been essential in her leadership and assistance to the project. We partnered with Tideland Electric and local contractor Andy Todd donated his time to do the electrical work. Ocracoke Sanitary District Manager David Tolson dug the trenches for the electrical and water lines, at no cost to the Commons. Ocracoke Civic and Business Association is managing the restrooms on site and working towards designating funds to maintain them. Ocracoke Alive led an effort in cooperation with Ocracoke School students to plant a small grove of fig trees adjacent to the main garden. They also erected and auctioned 20 artist mural panels, including 12 created by Ocracoke School students during Ocracoke Arts Week.

The Commons has received hundreds of dollars in in-kind gifts from Kellogg Lumber, Kempsville Lumber, The
Ocracoke Variety Store, The Island Garden Center, Wooden Sea Tree Service, Johnny Conner, Darren Burrus, Jason’s Restaurant, The Concrete Studios in Currituck County and Andy Todd Electrical.


In 2023 The Commons was home to a number of free community events, including an “Evening at the Commons” in October to thank supporters. Long-time locals David Tweedie and Amy Howard thrilled a 60-person crowd with Halloween Ghost Stories in late October. In early December, we turned on the lights with a brilliant display under the guidance of local leader and volunteer, Trudy Austin, and the help of the Ocracoke School Shop Class. The holiday lighting of the Commons was a fitting culmination of 2023. On very short notice, a large group gathered one night in December to watch as the lights went on for the first time, illuminating the three moose in the center. The evening came alive in the laughter of the kids running around and the happy chatter of adults. 

Want to help our garden grow? Donate today!

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