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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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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!

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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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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It’s been so scorching lately, we couldn’t resist from making a Nelly reference. In all seriousness, we haven’t the faintest idea what happened to “June-uary”, as it seems like we’ve just jumped straight to August. Aside from the weather, things have been popping here at the garden too: sunflowers, zucchini and summer squash, tomatoes, beets, carrots, garlic, and so many different flowers.


Buzzz Buzzz. Hard at work.

The bees aren’t the only ones who have been busy in the garden; in the last month, we’ve had a continued streak of support from various volunteer groups who have come to help out and enjoy the garden with us: naturopathy students from Bastyr Center for Natural Health, UW student, local Girl Scout troops, Windermere Real Estate, and Seattle 9th grade Waldorf students. A HUGE thank you to all who have come out!

153In addition, things over at the Bayview Garden are coming along rather swimmingly. All of the beds are planted, and we just harvested the first of the carrots this week! Peppers, eggplant, and melons are under plastic; radishes soon to pop, and beets coming up. Until next time, enjoy the photos, try to keep cool and hydrated as the temperature rises, and hopefully see you at our Wednesday work parties.

Also, we’re having a volunteer appreciation party for all of Good Cheer’s awesome volunteers on Tuesday, July 16 from 5-7 PM in the garden. Hope to see you there!


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It’s been quite the whirlwind this spring and there are lots of exciting things happening here at the garden. We kicked off May with our annual May Day party, where the weather was perfect for painting faces, making flower crowns, and wrapping the May Pole.

Margaret, Abigail, Camille, and Lissa having fun with face paint.

Thumbs up for flower crowns!

Wrapping the May pole!

Just in these two short weeks, we have had a tremendous amount of help from the local and greater community. Students from the University of Washington spent a Sunday morning with us doing some much-needed cleaning up in and around our box beds. A few days later, the Greenbank Organic Farm students joined our Wednesday work party, where they helped harvest 177 pounds of produce, prep and plant numerous beds, and do some picky weeding around lettuce and peas. A big thank you to all who came out and to those who keep coming out!

University of Washington students gather around one of the box beds they weeded.

Greenbank Organic Farm School students!

Other exciting things in the garden: tomatoes and cucumbers are planted in our hoop house! Squash plants will be going into our terraces! And tomatoes are planted out in the garden with more coming! We spied the first of flowering phacelia, bright orange California poppies and vibrant red poppies, and this week and are thrilled for even more colors to be popping up throughout our garden, especially with the addition of two new flower beds to attract beneficial insects and pollinators. Also, we have been ramping things up at our satellite garden at Bayview, which will serve as yet another source of fresh, local, produce for Good Cheer Food Bank. So far, we have carrots, bok choy, tatsoi, and Chinese cabbage planted and have already harvested radishes, baby bok choy, and arugula. Combined with the impressive harvests at Good Cheer, donations from local farmers, and gleaning at the Saturday Bayview Farmers Market, we have surpassed 1,500 pounds of produce since the beginning of March. More to come as the season progresses!

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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.

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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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.

henry and madeliene

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.

windermere adorable child

That’s one mighty bean harvest

windermere lettuce

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.

harvest party flyer

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.


The top photograph is of the Bastyr students, the middle of the Waldorfians, and the bottom of the Billings students.

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.

 kevin-bio-photo_4820   kaitlin-greene-bio-photo_4534

With their arrival, all four of this year’s apprentices are here and doing great work at Good Cheer and our partner gardens!

2014 apprentices!

Abigail, Kevin, Kaitlin, and Sonya at the Whidbey Institute West Garden

At the Golissa and huge bok choiod 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.


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It’s spring, and the garden is sure happy about it!


IMG_1494 john with kale1_3470
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.

starts lettuce march_3526 starts march_3529

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.


whitman box beds 19mar14_3474  whitman box beds4 19mar14_3468

whitman college box beds2 19mar14_3481

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.

whitman box beds6 19mar14_3486

With the help of the students we were able to nearly finish this project, and for that we must give a big THANK YOU!

IMG_1592Although we got rained out, we still enjoyed our picnic lunch in the hoop house.

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!





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