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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.

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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,

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!


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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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!

July? Definitely another scorcher–temperatures were in the high 80s during Independence day weekend. Speaking of which, we were at the Maxwelton Parade handing out sugar snap peas and flowers from the garden!


Cukes and Tomatoes: great sandwich fixins.

Due to the dry and hot weather, we spent a good amount of July watering and harvesting. We made out quite nicely: 368 pounds of carrots, 278 pounds of tomatoes, 210 pounds of plums, and 153 pounds of summer squash from Good Cheer Garden and Bayview Garden! In fact, we more than doubled our harvest from last month, coming in at nearly 1,300 pounds at Good Cheer and over 350 pounds at Bayview, and thanks to in kind donations and gleaning, we raked in 4,870 pounds of produce just in the month of July.

And even though our spinach has been bolting like there’s no tomorrow, our tomatoes are loving this weather and have been putting on their second growth.

Also, on July 21, students from the Au Sable Institute of Environmental Students came to visit and lend a hand with weeding projects and blackberry removal. Especially since it’s been so hot, we’re so grateful to folks who are still coming by to help out during our Wednesday work parties. Thanks to our volunteers, we’ve been able to harvest and bag an enormous amount of produce, pick, braid, and hang our garlic for curing, and enjoy delicious salads during lunch. Thanks and stay cool out there!

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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

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.

apprentices and spinach

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.


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!


Master Gardeners? More like master compost turners!

whitman group

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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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.


Contact for more information:
Abigail Lazarowski,

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.


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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