The Wills Group has partnered with Oasis Fresh Foods Market in Indian Head, Maryland, in a significant move to combat food insecurity and help bring an end to the town’s decades-long status as a “food desert.” The collaboration aims to breathe new life into underutilized areas with a locally-owned grocery store and a vibrant community garden. We had the opportunity to speak with William Shekarian, Director of FP&A and Business Development at the Wills Group, to learn more about this inspiring initiative:

Q. Let’s start with a little background. What is Oasis Fresh Foods Market, and how does their employee and resident-owned model in Indian Head support their mission?

William Shekarian: “Oasis Fresh Foods Market will be the first grocery store within the town limits of Indian Head in 25 years. Imagine having to travel 20 or 30 minutes to the nearest grocery store but not having any transportation to get there. This effort to address food insecurity in Indian Head and the surrounding area is a significant part of the town’s revitalization plan. Oasis Fresh Foods Market’s vision is to create access to fresh food, a community gathering space, and jobs with livable wages.

The impact will be felt across Western Charles County, benefiting everyone from residents to military personnel at Naval Support Facility Indian Head. The naval base is the size of a small town, with 3,834 military and civilian workers – yet it has no commissary (grocery store). Together with the 3,822 residents of Indian Head, the store and community garden project will benefit a resident population of 7,656 (according to the most recent U.S. Census data). It’s also an ethnically and economically diverse community with 60% Black residents, 20% Caucasian, 5% Hispanic, and 8% Asian. Furthermore, 12.6% of Indian Head residents live below the poverty line, which is higher than the national average.

At its core, the Oasis store and community garden project is about bringing diverse communities together and making a real difference in people’s lives.”

Q. How does a partnership with Oasis and this community garden initiative connect to our broader community engagement efforts?

William: “This partnership reflects our core values at the Wills Group, expressed through our purpose of keeping Lives in Motion. The Oasis Food Market is a natural fit and a unified opportunity to impact our two Community Engagement (CE) programs: Nourishing Children and Families and Reimagining Outdoor Spaces. Oasis Fresh Foods Market is a unique opportunity for us to merge these initiatives, focusing on fighting food insecurity and enhancing outdoor spaces where families can spend time together, enjoy nature, and access fresh food. The partnership with Oasis Fresh Foods Market is really our first opportunity to bring together our two signature CE programs, allowing us to create a more connected and nourished community. We’re thrilled to see these efforts come to life with Oasis.”

Q. Can you give us a brief overview of the Indian Head community garden project and what Oasis and the Wills Group are each doing to help?

William: “The community garden is a cornerstone of this project. It’s about transforming neglected spaces into vibrant, productive areas where people can grow their own food and come together outdoors for community events.

The Wills Group is not just contributing financially; our team will be hands-on, volunteering to build garden beds, plant seeds, landscape, and harvest crops. Our team has previous garden and landscape experience from other partner projects, and we’re excited to apply these skills to support this important initiative.

Aligned with the Wills Group’s Reimagining Outdoor Spaces Community Engagement program, the project is set to repurpose three neglected lots in Indian Head into a thriving community hub. The centerpiece is a community garden with raised beds where families can grow herbs, produce, and other fresh foods. But it will also have a natural amphitheater and a labyrinth, drawing in visitors and providing residents with a place to gather for community events.

What’s really special is how it will bring generations together. Seniors and kids from the local elementary school can work together in the garden or enjoy events in the amphitheater. It’s all about connection. And with the fresh food market right there, it’s a full circle – people can grow their own food or pick up what they need, all fresh and affordable. The town will seek annual stipends to maintain the garden, and the grocery store will also provide support.”

Q. What are the short and long-term plans for the community garden project, and how does the Wills Group envision supporting Oasis in fulfilling these goals?

William: “Our immediate support includes a $50,000 grant to help build the community garden. When the construction phase is nearing completion, we’ll plan an employee volunteer day to help create the garden. But our involvement doesn’t stop there. As our Dash In stores in Glymont and Bryans Road open, we’ll explore further opportunities. We see our sites and Oasis Foods Market as partners and as part of a bigger picture. Together, we’re working to meet the community’s needs head-on.”


The Wills Group’s partnership with Oasis Fresh Foods Market in Indian Head directly reflects our commitment to improving access to nutritious foods and revitalizing community spaces. Together, we’re ending the town’s long-standing status as a food desert and building the foundation for a better quality of life for residents.

At the Wills Group, we’re committed to initiatives that provide immediate relief and pave the way for long-term sustainability and growth. Oasis Fresh Foods Market is more than a local grocery store; it represents access, opportunity, and the promise of a healthier, more nourished community. The community garden, in parallel, represents self-reliance and a sense of pride, fostering a mindset of endless possibilities. This is how we help people propel their lives forward, how we keep Lives in Motion.

We’re honored to be part of this transformation and excited to see the positive impact we’ll create together.

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