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!

 

Happy October! This month got off to a fantastic start with a special Sunday work party in the Bayview Garden (Good Cheer’s satellite garden). We were thrilled with the turnout! About 15 members of the community showed up on a gorgeous Sunday morning to generously donate their time and effort to prepare this garden for winter, and help with some much needed maintenance.

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Together under the sunshine we harvested the rest of the winter squash (220 more pounds, putting the total from Bayview this season at 370 pounds!), prepped beds to be cover cropped, pruned perennials, pulled an incredible amount of blackberry, and painted the shed. After only three hours we completely transformed this space.

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Thanks to everyone’s help, the Bayview Garden is now fully cover cropped for winter, has two overwintering beet beds, and soon will have a bed of garlic planted. We cannot thank you all enough for your enthusiasm and support!

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Our appreciation to:

John Chaffey, Reed Kaltenbach, Jenny Kaltenbach, Kyle Kaltenbach, Steve McLean, J.C. May, Briar Rayne, Katy Richardson, Beno Kennedy, Abigail Lazarowski, Kevin Dunham, Lissa Firor, and Cary Peterson.

~~~Sonya

 

With the season’s abundant generosity of sunshine, fresh food, and community, it didn’t seem quite possible that it would end. Summer held out just about as long as it could, it seemed – right up until the Equinox, which fell on the 23rd. The Fall season has officially begun. The rain is falling, the days are colder, and the garden is in transition once again.

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Just about all of our overwintering beds are planted – we’ll have spinach, kale, chard, carrots, leeks, and beets growing, which will be lightly harvested this Fall and Winter for the Food Bank, but mostly will provide for early spring. And the true mark of the shift into winter in an organic garden has begun – we are sowing cover crop. Planting cover crop at this time of year helps prevent soil erosion and the leaching out of water and nutrients in the rainy winter months, enhances soil fertility and builds up the soil ecosystem and biodiversity, and when we till it in come January, the rich blend of legumes and grasses in the cover crop will decompose, adding organic matter and nutrients to the soil.

The garden will look very different in a few weeks, and while the harvest is certainly slowing down, we are, for now, still enjoying the bounty of our summer crops. In the month of September we have harvested over 1,700 pounds of produce for the Food Bank from the Good Cheer and Bayview Gardens, and we expect at least another hundred or so in the next week.

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The highlight this month was undoubtedly Good Cheer’s annual Harvest Party on September 13th. We gathered to eat delicious food, hear local music, make art in the garden, and celebrate the season and our community. It was also a day that we all honored and gave thanks to a very special and beloved person: Cary Peterson. Cary was the driving force behind the creation of the Good Cheer Garden in 2009, and managed the garden up until last year. In addition to all her work at Good Cheer, she has done and continues to do so much for community agriculture and transforming our food systems on the south island, including most recently the South Whidbey School Garden to Cafeteria program where she is now focusing most of her energy.

We are so grateful for all of your hard and heartfelt work, Cary, and are so incredibly lucky to have a person with such vision, ability, drive, and passion working for change in our community. Thank you Cary Peterson!

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And, of course – a huge thank you to all our volunteers, without whom these important community projects couldn’t continue to flourish.

 

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One last thing! Mark Sunday, October 5th in your calendars. Sonya, who has been our apprentice in the Community Garden Leadership Training program, is hosting a work party from 9am-noon at the Bayview Garden, our satellite garden behind the old Bayview School. We’ll paint the shed, pull blackberry, sow cover crop, and generally beautify the garden. We hope you can join us! Lunch provided.

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August was a record month for local fresh food at the food bank. The Good Cheer garden produced 1,624.5 pounds of produce, and there was a total of 8,505 pounds of produce to move through the food bank! That’s 200 more pounds out of the garden, and a whopping 2,500 pounds more in donations from other gardens and farms than last August.

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Henry and Madeleine showing off their beets!

It’s been a spectacular season, and we are certainly reaping the benefits. With the help of our regular volunteers, plus the new faces who show up each Wednesday, we have been able to plant, cultivate, and harvest the most productive August to date at the Good Cheer Garden. We also received some much needed help with weeding and harvest during the Windermere day of service at the end of the month.

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That’s one mighty bean harvest

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Diligently weeding the lettuce!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As always, thanks to everyone who helps to make this garden the success that it is. We love seeing you guys out here digging in the dirt!

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Also, don’t forget to mark your calendars for the harvest party on September 13th from 11-2! Come eat some food, listen to some music, do some crafts, and enjoy some time in the garden while celebrating all the hard work that former garden coordinator, Cary Peterson, put into this garden.

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