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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.
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.
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!
Happy gardening, and we hope to see you guys out there at our Wednesday Work Parties!
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.
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.
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!
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.
It’s been a whirlwind month. We started off the month with a series of service days. First, on the last Saturday of May, 26 students from Bastyr University in Seattle came out and put in two solid hours of work for us. Then, on Wednesday, June 4th, about 20 9th grade students from the Seattle Waldorf school came out for the first half of our work day, and about 10 middle schoolers from Billings Middle School in Seattle came out for the second half. When you do the math, that’s about an extra 130 volunteer hours of work put into the garden. A huge heartfelt THANK YOU to the groups who traveled out to see our program, and help us out in the garden.
Also, at the beginning of the month we welcomed Kaitlin Greene to the Community Gardening Leadership Training Program, and in the middle of the month we welcomed Kevin Dunham. Both will be focusing their time at the school gardens, but can be seen tromping around the Good Cheer and Whidbey Institute Gardens as well. To read more about the two newest members of our team, visit their biographies on the South Whidbey School Garden website.
With their arrival, all four of this year’s apprentices are here and doing great work at Good Cheer and our partner gardens!
At the Good Cheer garden we’ve had our first big harvest of beets and carrots, tomatoes in the hoop house are starting to ripen, we’re putting zucchinis in the food bank, and we still seem to have leafy greens coming out of our ears. And it’s not just at our garden! Last week, a food bank client donated four giant bok choys that they had grown from starts we gave away to them earlier in the season. This is a wonderful example of one of the many ways that we are attempting to develop a holistic food system in our community, and one of the many reasons we’re grateful for the people who live here.
It’s spring, and the garden is sure happy about it!
The lettuce, kale, arugula, peas, spinach, and chard are all growing quickly in the hoop house, and we now have lettuce, kale, spinach, chard, beets, peas, leeks, cilantro planted out in the field. Poppies are starting to grow, and bees can be seen buzzing between the red dead nettle and dandelions.
Between the torrential downpours and pockets of warmth and sun, it feels like the garden is just itching to take off. We’ve harvested a little over 20 pounds from our overwintering crops, and expect to quickly be harvesting much more from our new plants.
We also have a lot of beautiful starts that are finding beautiful little homes out in the garden.
On the work party Wednesday, March 19th, we had 14 students from Whitman College come and volunteer a morning in the rain! Even though the weather was miserable they helped us completely renovate our raised demonstration beds.
Soon we’ll have beds that feature an insectary for pollinators and beneficial insects, square stem herbs, woody perennial herbs, cut flowers, annual herbs, and strawberries.
With the help of the students we were able to nearly finish this project, and for that we must give a big THANK YOU!
Stay tuned for more exciting updates on the garden harvest, thanks to everyone who helped out this month, and we look forward to seeing more of you as the weather improves.
Join us at our work party every Wednesday, from 9 am – 4 pm. Stay for as short or long as you’d like! We have a picnic lunch at 12 noon, rain or shine, with delicious fresh salad greens from the hoophouse!
The Good Cheer Garden is a WSU Compost demonstration site showing different ways to create nutritious compost from yard, garden and food waste. Each year we are fortunate to host the Master Gardeners trainees for their compost class.
A big thank you to WICEC (Whidbey Island Community Education Center) for providing warm indoor classroom space for instruction before going out to the garden to see the Good Cheer Garden’s cold compost bins of varying shapes and sizes, and the in-ground, above-ground and garbage can-style worm bins in action.
Then, to get hands-on experience, the Master Gardener trainees helped turn the compost, and separate the finished compost from the compost that still needs a little more time.
Thank you future Master Gardeners!
We had stunning success with our garlic this season after we planted it in seaweed. So, when the fall storms came, we went back to the beach to collect seaweed for the garlic beds again.
Middle School students from Wellington Day School and their teacher Cormac McCarthy enthusiastically helped us plant it!
First we gave the seaweed a little rinsing. The garlic was carefully separated into cloves.
A bed was prepped and then the fun began. We laid the seaweed down about 4 inches thick and also took some time to explore all the creatures still in the seaweed.
The bed was then covered with about 4 inches of straw. We pulled the straw aside to create planting holes and filled them with compost.
Thank you Adrian, Alejandro, Collin, Donovan, Gabe, Izzy, Kaio, Kellen, Makenna, Lulu, Molly, Serena and Mr. McCarthy!
As some of our crops are reaching the end of their life cycle, others are coming on quickly. The past two Wednesdays have seen a harvest of around 500 lbs of produce for the food bank! An energetic group of students from the University of Washington’s Urban Farm recently came by the help out in the garden. With the extra muscle we were able to flip, harvest, and clean up our compost bins, harvest rhubarb, beans, and beets, rebuild a terrace bed, and weed and prepare a couple new flowers beds!
Flowers are blooming, tomatoes are dripping off the plant, beans are trying their best to take over the garden, winter squash keeps on sneaking up on me, plums are attracting gleaners (both human and avian), and every day is another adventure and lesson in maintaining the garden without interfering too much in what nature wants to do. Check out our slideshow of beautiful pictures!
Carrot Camp for children ages 8 – 10! Click HERE for pdf.
Carrot Camp is a week-long adventure in the garden, searching for interesting bugs, getting dirty, and of course, snacking on veggies! Taking place at the Whidbey Insitute’s beautiful Westgarden, surrounded by 70 acres of forest, campers will learn about growing organic vegetables and how to use them for simple recipes and crafts. Bring your sense of play and learn how to transform dirt to delicious!
On Wednesday, the children will go the Good Cheer Food Bank and Garden, where they will be bringing over vegetables from the Westgarden to the food bank, and learning about providing healthy, fresh food for the whole community.
August 12th-16th, 2013
Monday to Friday, from 9am to 1pm
Westgarden at the Whidbey Institute
Boys and girls 8-10 years old
Registration Fee $150
It’s a lot of work to grow 5,000 lbs of produce annually for the Food Bank! Not only do our apprentices and Wednesday work party volunteers make this happen, but we also are so grateful for the service learning programs that come to help in the garden. This spring, students from Bastyr Naturopathic College, Wartburg College (Iowa), and the Seattle Waldorf School have volunteered in the garden!
On Saturday, May 4th, Bastyr College students weeded, prepped and planted.
On Wednesday, May 8th, Wartburg College students participating in a week of service learning as part of their Leadership and Spirituality May term, came to the work party and joined in with other volunteers to harvest veggies and vermicastings, prep beds and plant.
Ninth grade students from the Seattle Waldorf School joined the Wednesday work party on May 22nd to help with harvesting, prepping and digging for a new concrete block worm bin.
A big thank you to all the service learning volunteers this May for helping to grow our garden!
Bastyr College– Susan Azar, Sarah Chappelle, Rob Chappelle, Lila Chappelle, Evan Chappelle, Pa Lao, Missye Profit, Jennifer Harrison and Michael Smith.
Wartburg College: Haddie Vawter, Amy Sampson, Katlyn Underwood, Megan Puls, Tanner Wenger, Jordan Finch, Lauren Mapes, and Professor Fred Waldstein.