We are thrilled to announce that the application for the 2016 Community Gardening Leadership Training is now open! One apprentice will be selected to work specifically with us at the Good Cheer Food Bank Garden, but will also gain experience at our two partner gardens: the Whidbey Institute Westgarden, and the South Whidbey School District Farm and Garden Program.

camille anh and lissa

Garden Manager Camille, 2015 Apprentice Anh, Produce Manager Lissa

Visit the Cultivating Community Website for more information!

CGLT Program Description 2016
CGLT Program Application 2016

For any questions contact:
Abigail Lazarowski, cultivatingcommunitywhidbey@gmail.com

It was a spectacular 2015 season, and we can’t wait for the next growing season and the next awesome team that we’ll get to work with during it!

2015 was an outstanding year for tomatoes.

2015 was an outstanding year for tomatoes.

Despite the heat and drought this summer, starting in June and extending through August, the Good Cheer and Bayview Gardens have produced over 8,600 pounds of food for the food bank this season: over 2,000 pounds of greens; 1,500 pounds of summer and winter squash; 1,300 pounds of tomatoes; and 1,100 pounds of carrots.

At Bayview Garden, we increased production by over 50% compared to 2014: over 1,050 pounds of produce has been harvested and recorded, not to mention the three remaining beds we have to harvest from through the winter.

In looking to increase production even further in 2016, we gave the Bayview Garden a little makeover, involving herb beds and concrete slabs, a covered bench, and rototilling.

The Bayview Garden gleams in sunshine before its big makeover.

The Bayview Garden gleams in sunshine before its big makeover.

On a sunny October morning, we disassembled three herb beds surrounded by concrete slabs in order to lengthen the beds on the west side of the garden. Along with a veritable pile of rocks, we also managed to shuffle a covered bench outside of the garden to make even more space.

That afternoon, Camille tilled up the Western half of the garden, (not without any issues from our finicky walk-behind rototiller, of course), while Anh transplanted lavender from the freshly disassembled herb beds next to the covered bench they had shuffled out of the garden just a few hours prior. Planning for narrower paths between the beds, we expect to be able to fit 20 beds in the same space where there were 14, an anticipated increase in growing space of nearly 45%.

Camille Green, Good Cheer Garden Manager, with our season's first beets.

Camille with our season’s first beets.

One of our biggest goals this year was not only to increase seasonal distribution of produce and ensure there is fresh produce in the food bank during shoulder months, but also to have a more consistent season. Through careful planning and planting, we increased harvest yields by at least 30 pounds per month from January through May; were able to harvest at least six crops 10 or more days before their earliest donation date, including bok choy (4/8), beets (6/3), peas (6/3), carrots (6/10), zucchini (6/11), and tomatoes (6/26); and have late season and overwintering beds in the ground.

Donated produce has also been pivotal in supporting the food bank’s Fresh Food on the Table Program: over 11,000 pounds of produce from home gardeners; 6,300 pounds from local farms and the Bayview Farmer’s Market. We are especially grateful for the Gleeful Gleaners, who captured over 3,200 pounds of food, and Deep Harvest Farm, Ebb Tide Produce, Greenbank Farm, Pam’s Place Produce, Quail’s Run Farm, Willowood Farm, Bur Oak Acres, Plum Hill LLC, Mutiny Bay Blues, and SkyRoot Farm for donating nearly 4,000 pounds of excess produce this year.

The garden has benefited and grown from the help of over 940 volunteer hours this year and we are truly grateful for our incredibly dedicated volunteers and the many organizations and groups who have come to lend a hand harvesting and bagging produce, transplanting seedlings, prepping and planting beds, weeding, removing Himalayan blackberries and other invasive species, as well as repairing fences. A special thanks to the Master Gardeners, local Girl Scout troops, Windermere Real Estate, and students from University of Washington, Greenbank Organic Farm School, Bastyr Center for Natural Health, Seattle Waldorf 9th grade class, South Whidbey Academy, and Au Sable Institute of Environmental Studies for their service in the garden this year!


Apprentices and Mentors in the CGLT: Anh Bui, Camille Green, Cary Peterson, Halley Shriber, Margaret Pickoff, and Abigail Lazarowski

anh and chinese cabbage

Anh with some beautiful purple chinese cabbage


Nicole watering starts to give away

Anh Bui focused her time at Good Cheer, and did an incredible job moving into a leadership role at the Bayview Garden. For the first time ever, we also hosted a UW Senior Capstone student. Nicole Bergman spent two months on Whidbey helping to develop our seed and starts giveaway program.

We’ve had such a wonderful season and it is no doubt due to the helping hands and support of the amazing volunteers, community members, and local farms we at Good Cheer Food Bank and Garden feel are family. Thanks to all for a great season and see you in the spring.

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Every season the Community Gardening Leadership Training Program brings enthusiastic apprentices to work at the Good Cheer Garden, as well as at the Whidbey Institute West Garden, and the South Whidbey School Farm. Not only does this program help educate future farmers and food activists, it supplies each garden with energetic new ideas and essential program support. Please consider supporting the Community Gardening Leadership Training program to keep our gardens growing in 2016! All of your donations will be DOUBLED thanks to the generosity of Hand in Hand Partners $10,000 matching grant!


Thank you to everyone who turned out to help create our most productive season to date, and a big thank you to our volunteers who showed up in the rain for our season’s last work party. Stay tuned for more information about the season’s success, and we’ll see you in the spring. Have a lovely winter!

last lunch

This Wednesday, 10/28 from 9 AM to 4 PM, is our last work party of the year! Please join us in harvesting beets, weeding overwintering beds, putting the garden to sleep, and most importantly, celebrating the fantastic season we’ve had! As always, we’ll have a wonderful picnic lunch of soup, salad, bread, and probably a special sweet treat or two, but feel free to bring something to share. Hope to see you then, and if we don’t, we’ll see you in the spring!

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Add photos

It’s officially Fall. The leaves are changing color, the weather has cooled down, and it’s time to prune your fruit trees! If you you are a little rusty or need some tips, dust off your loppers and come down to the Bayview Garden Wednesday October 7 from 1-3 PM for a free fruit tree pruning class. The Bayview Garden is located behind the old Bayview School Building. Check out the flyer below for more details. Hope to see you on Wednesday!

Fall Fruit Tree Pruning Class Flyer_10.3.15

For those who have not been over to the Bayview Garden across from Bayview Corner (behind the old school building), Saturday, October 10 from 10 AM-1 PM, during our fall work party, would be a particularly fabulous time. We’ll be harvesting winter squash and putting the garden to sleep for the winter. Come lend a hand and stay for lunch!

Fall Bayview Garden Work Party Flyer_9.28.15

But before we get too far ahead of ourselves, we have a few Bayview Garden updates to mention from this season: we dug two new beds in the spring, have grown radishes, turnips, tatsoi, bok choy, baby bok choy, carrots, beets, chard, zucchini, eggplant, eel river melons, padron, anaheim, and bell peppers, and loads of winter squash. And in fact, we sowed buckwheat on half of a beet bed, which led to many bees visiting the garden to help pollinate our winter squash. So far, we have harvested over 625 pounds of produce, and we still have about six beds of winter squash going right now!

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Enjoy the great weather we’ve been having and hope to see you October 10!

Thanks to all who were able to come to our work party and harvest potluck celebration this past Wednesday! The morning was a bit cool, but the clouds burned off and it warmed up to a breezy 72 with lots of sunshine–perfect for bouquet making, hat decorating, singing, and playing lawn games. Larry Dobson even stopped by on his stilts! In addition, we truly apologize for our oversight in scheduling the potluck celebration on Yom Kippur and missed those who may have been observing the holiday.

Perfect weather, delicious food, and happy people!

Perfect weather, delicious food, and happy people!

A huge thank you to all in the kitchen who worked with great gusto to make such a delicious and bountiful spread of dishes for the party, notably Good Cheer Food Bank staff Karen Korbelik, Lissa Firror, and Scott Stark, as well as Linda, a regular Good Cheer Food Bank volunteer.

Pretty sunflowers make for pretty bouquets.

Pretty sunflowers make for pretty bouquets.

Meanwhile, in the garden, volunteers Anne and Liz made four beautiful (and enormous) garden salads that fed our tummies and our eyes, thanks to some last-minute floral touches from Kim. Not too far away, Pete, Reed and Jenny, Madir, Briar, and Constance were busy bagging 42 pounds of beets, 94 pounds of carrots, and 49 pounds of greens harvested that morning by Camille, our garden manager!

On the floral side of things, Halley and Devyn harvested four overflowing buckets of sunflowers, calendula, dahlia, buckwheat, cosmos, and other flowers for the bouquet-making station for volunteers and guests.

Needless to say, the celebration was a great team effort. We had a wonderful time sharing food, fun, and hope those who stopped by did as well. As the leaves change color, we are excited to harvest our winter squash, sow cover crop, and put our garden beds to rest, but stay tuned for more information on a Fall Fruit Tree Pruning class as well as a Winter Squash Harvest Work Party at Bayview Garden!

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The Good Cheer Garden survey is closing on Monday, September 7th. If you have 5 minutes to spare, then please check out the survey link below! The information gained from this survey will be used to update outreach, educational and marketing materials for Good Cheer Garden and I, Nicole Bergman, will incorporate it into my senior research project. All your help is greatly appreciated, thank you.


More, peas

More, peas

So how ’bout them winds this past weekend?

We are feeling so refreshed and nourished from the rain these last few days, even if our bean trellis is a looking a little worse for wear.

As we transition into fall, we have been seed saving, getting our last rotation of greens in before it is time to cover crop, and harvesting flowers for the food bank with the help of our Wednesday volunteers and Waldorf educators who came on August 26.

Even though this rain may mean the start of late blight for our tomatoes, we are very glad to see our other crops perking up a bit and excited for the shift in seasons. Stay tuned and come visit us Wednesday, September 23 for our Fall Harvest Potluck!

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