anh and spinachA big welcome to new Good Cheer Garden apprentice Anh Bui!

“In July of 2013, I left my job of over 5 years in medical-device marketing and advertising to find work I could feel more connected to. I had always been interested in sustainability and began reading more about food access, social and environmental justice, climate change, and culture, as well as attending conferences on these topics. A major influence, and a big reason why I am here, came from listening to Elizabeth Mpofu, chairperson of the Zimbabwe Organic Smallholder Farmers Forum (ZIMSOFF), champion farmers’ rights for food and land sovereignty and their struggle with industrial agriculture, GMOs, and subsequent loss of indigenous seeds and knowledge. I am here to learn how to grow food, educate others in growing food, and play my part in (re)connecting people with land, food, and water. It is my hope to merge my experience in marketing and advertising with my passion for local food, economy, and community.

In Long Beach, California, where I was previously, I volunteered at the community garden I lived next to, co-created and maintained the garden blog, and worked with Foodscape Long Beach to increase community awareness and education, outreach, and participation. A Southern Californian for the last 15 years, I am used to gardening in short sleeves and a light jacket, but now, I bring with me my rain gear, warm puffy jackets, a big smile, and beginner’s mind to this awe-inspiring program in the Pacific Northwest. I am honored, excited, and so grateful to be a part of the Good Cheer Team and am certain that I will learn much more than I ever dreamed from this majestic island and its wonderful people.”

~~~~~ Anh

Join us Tuesday, March 31, 2015 from 4:30-6:00 PM for our Spring Gardening Forum and Seed/Start Giveaway!

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It’s officially spring and things are moving along quickly! Several beds are planted out in the field, our hoop house crops will soon be ready to harvest, tomato seedlings are happily sprouting under our grow lights, the worms in our worm bins are developing a voracious appetite, and we can practically watch the grass grow.

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Anh, Karl, Margaret, and Halley are really excited about spinach!

This March has been a particularly busy, albeit delightfully warm and mild month. Mid-way through March we welcomed our three new apprentices to the Community Garden Leadership Training Program, a partnership between the Whidbey Institute, the Good Cheer Food Bank, and the South Whidbey School Farm and Garden program.

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Anh, Halley, Camille, and Margaret color coordinating!

Halley will be focused at the school farm and gardens, Margaret at the Whidbey Institute, and Anh here at Good Cheer! A big heartfelt welcome to Halley, Margaret and Anh!

As if it wasn’t exciting enough to gain three new apprentices in one week, the garden was also host to two service-learning events last week! On Tuesday, 12 college students from Whitman College came to help in the garden during their Alternative Spring Break. Wednesday was another busy work party, with almost 20 people present at our picnic lunch, and on Saturday we hosted a Master Gardener Compost Workshop in which 10 more people help us harvest, build, and turn compost. Between the service events and the work parties this month, 55 volunteers have put in 185 hours of work at the garden, and the month isn’t over yet!

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Master Gardeners? More like master compost turners!

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Whitman Alternative Spring Break students

Happy gardening, and we hope to see you guys out there at our Wednesday Work Parties!

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Wow, what a work party! We knew people were excited to garden, but certainly didn’t expect to have 27 people for our picnic lunch! With all the help we dug out the grass that has been growing in the wood of our terrace beds, weeded, edged, amended, and prepped several other growing beds, and harvested 19 pounds of kale, chard, and spinach. Not bad for a dreary February day!

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Our worker bees descending upon our terrace beds! Those beds haven’t looked this good in 7 years.

The garden looks beautiful and the beds are ready to plant thanks to the amazing force of volunteers who came out to help yesterday. Thank you to everyone for caring so much for this project. Our party was a blast, and we had a great turn out for the afternoon tree pruning class. Stay tuned for more info on classes, and we’ll see you intrepid gardeners next Wednesday! A special thanks to Sarah Birger with Taproot Architects for teaching the pruning class.

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It’s spring, so on the 25th come celebrate at Good Cheer’s first official Wednesday Work Party of the season! As always, we’ll be there from 9 to 4. We’ve got work from organizing seed packets, to potting up seedlings, to rebuilding trellises, to flipping and planting beds. Come anytime for however long you like during that time, but be sure to be around for our picnic lunch!

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From 1:00-3:00, we’ll be hosting a Fruit Tree Pruning class with Sarah Birger. Come learn the basics of fruit tree pruning, and help us get our trees ready for the season! Bring your pruning tools, and you’ll also learn how to sharpen and care for them.

Enjoy the sunshine, and we hope to see you soon!

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Another inspiring young person is coming to South Whidbey to help grow food for our community and our children, and strengthen our island’s local food system!
A homestay is needed from March 15 – October 31 for a school garden apprentice who will be helping to offer garden-based curriculum in the schools, while growing produce for the cafeterias, for the students during the classes, and for Whidbey Island Nourishes and Good Cheer.
The Community Gardening Leadership Training is a program of the Whidbey Institute in collaboration with the South Whidbey School District and the Good Cheer Food Bank. This year four apprentices are coming and we need one more homestay!
You’ll receive fresh garden vegetables throughout the season, deep gratitude from our program and the satisfaction of knowing you’re helping to educate and nourish children, and support a future community gardening leader.

Please let us know if you can help!

Abigail Lazarowski and Cary Peterson

(CGLT Program Co-Coordinators)

cultivatingcommunitywhidbey@gmail.com

360-593-2725

Yet again, we had a gloriously sunny and productive day for MLK Jr Day of Service.

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Our 20+ volunteers helped us kick start the season!

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Arwen, Jenny, and Elana show off their shovel skills!

We turned all the cover cropped beds, weeded and edged our overwintering beds, sifted and turned compost, organized the storage area, and cleaned out the rain barrels.

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abigail and carlAt the end of the work party we shared soup and bread, and even a fresh garden salad.

THANK YOU a thousand times over for everyone who came out to help! Not only did we get a huge jump on the season, but it was a special reminder of how motivated and active this community is. This project runs off the energy of the people who spend time tilling the soil, tending the plants, and sharing good food and good ideas with one another. Work parties start at the end of February, so stay tuned! In the meantime, here’s to the start of another amazing season!

 

 

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Some of the group at our picnic lunch

 

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: ‘What are you doing for others?’” Each year, Americans across the country answer that question by coming together on Martin Luther King Day to serve their neighbors and communities. Since 2009, the Good Cheer Garden has launched the garden season on this National Day of Service.

Join us for our annual work party on Martin Luther King Day, Monday, January 19th, from 9 am – 12noon.  Weather permitting, we’ll be:

  • turning over cover crops
  • making our own potting soil, and starting seeds to plant in the hoop house in February
  • cleaning tools, and organizing pots and garden equipment
  • harvesting compost
  • preparing the greenhouse and hoop house for early spring plantings

Help us start the season off right! Picnic lunch at noon with hot soup, bread, and some winter greens!

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Looking for a meaningful apprenticeship in a wonderful place? Consider moving to Whidbey Island to help grow food for the Food Bank, for our schools, and for partner non-profits through our Community Gardening Leadership Training! Find more information about the program, and the applications here.

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Contact for more information:
Abigail Lazarowski, cultivatingcommunitywhidbey@gmail.com
802-377-9487

The beds are mostly put to rest, the overwintering crops are all in, and the rain seems to have moved back in for the winter. The end of a season seems to come out of no where, the flurry of the growing season quickly subdued with late sunrises and early sunsets.

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Overwintering leeks and kale amongst our cover cropped beds.

This was another record season! As of the end of October, through our Fresh Food on the Table Program we have received over 31,000 pounds of local produce for the Food Bank. That’s a total of over 6,000 more pounds of produce than last year, and the season isn’t over yet. Of that total 7, 240 pounds of produce was harvested from the Food Bank Garden, and 472 from the Bayview Garden. 

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None of this would have been possible without the help of our generous donors, our dedicated volunteers, our hard working apprentices, and our enthusiastic partner farms and gardens.

The below graph gives an idea of where the local produce came from this year (accurate up to the end of October). “In Kind Donations” means local gardeners who donate surplus from their home gardens, and it accounts for about a 1/3 of the local produce in the food bank. We do not actively seek donations from home gardeners or other local farmers, which means that about half of all the local produce in the food bank is donated entirely on people’s own volition! Which means that we live in one generous community. The other half of the produce is actively sought by volunteers who glean from home growers, and by our apprentices and garden managers who glean from the Bayview Farmer’s Market, and who spend their days growing food for our local food system.

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A huge THANK YOU to the Market farmers from the Bayview Farmers Market, the CSA at Greenbank Farm, Gleeful Gleaners, Rotary Gleaners, home gardeners and local farmers who together contributed more than 17,000 pounds of fresh vegetables and fruits to the Food Bank!

We’d also especially like to thank the Community Gardening Leadership Training apprentices, coordinated by Cary Peterson, who helped grow and distribute the produce: Abigail Lazarowski (Whidbey Institute Westgarden), Sonya Ekstrom (Good Cheer and Bayview Gardens), Kevin Dunham and Kaitlin Greene (South Whidbey School District Gardens).

2014 apprentices!

Sonya and her first winter squash

Sonya and her first winter squash

Good Cheer Apprentice, Sonya, did an incredible job not only working at the Good Cheer Garden, but in helping us to bring the Bayview Garden back up to speed! The smaller satellite garden produced 200 more pounds than last season, and with Sonya’s stellar leadership the garden received some much needed TLC, and is ready for next season’s apprentice to leave their mark. Thanks Sonya for all the awesome work you did this season!

Our season is wrapping up, and as our gardens need a little rest, so do our gardeners! Have a lovely winter, and thank you for helping to make this the best season ever!

 

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