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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.

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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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Tomato blossoms, fresh peas, blooming cosmos and calendula, zucchini starts, and beet thinnings: there’s a lot going on in the garden right now. Slowly but surely is color being added to the garden. Shocks of yellow tomato flowers, red poppies, white pea blossoms, and lavender phacelia now compliment the deep purples and greens of the heartier leafy greens.calendula  two phacelias

Our first blooming calendula, and two different types of phacelia keep the bees, and the gardeners, happy.

At the beginning of the month we welcomed the spring with a May Day Celebration, at the same time that we welcomed our new apprentice, Sonya! Sonya is the newest addition to the Community Gardening Leadership Training Program, and will mostly be working at the Good Cheer Garden, and our satellite garden next door at the Whidbey Island Community Education Center.


Abigail (left), Sonya (center), and Camille (right) stand with Larry beneath the May Pole.

We are also very proud of Cary Peterson, who has helped make great leaps and bounds with the school garden programs on South Whidbey. As mentioned in our New Seasons, New Changes post, Cary helped start the Good Cheer garden in 2009, and coordinated it until focusing instead on the school gardens this season. Last week was the first official school lunch that used produce that students helped grown, tend, and harvest from the on-site garden. Check out the South Whidbey School Gardens blog, and this nice article from the South Whidbey Record.

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Here the Good Cheer Food Bank Executive Director, Kathy, and our Produce Manager, Lissa, accept fresh produce from LMS students.

Our volunteers continue to amaze us as they continue to help us pull in larger and larger harvests. Tomatoes, zucchinis, cucumbers, beans, and winter squash are growing in the garden, and our hoop house tomatoes are starting to fruit.

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As always, a huge heartfelt thanks to all our volunteers. They are what make this garden possible!

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We’re planting in the hoophouse! It’s our annual mid-February excitement here at the Good Cheer Garden because we know in 4 weeks we’ll be harvesting fresh veggies for the Food Bank!

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We have kale, arugula, lettuce, spinach, chard and peas! Except for the peas, which we direct sowed, all the starts were grown in the greenhouse using soil blocks and grow lights.

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Out in the field, we’re separating out and replanting the strawberries, and the garlic is poking out of the straw and seaweed we planted it in this fall.

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MLK day_3033 And it all began on the Martin Luther King Day of Service on January 20th when over 30 volunteers of all ages came out and turned over most of the cover crops and mulched with leaves! Volunteers also helped us organize our garden materials, started seeds, sifted compost and made potting soil.

It’s been a great launch to our 6th growing season!

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Congratulations, and much appreciation to Camille, Lissa, Alexa and Casey for their completion of the Community Gardening Leadership Training in the Good Cheer Garden, Food Bank, Whidbey Institute Westgarden, and South Whidbey Academy, South Whidbey Elementary School and Langley Middle School Gardens.

While gaining experience in our community food system, their hard work and leadership made a big contribution towards our record harvest this year for the Food Bank!

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!

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First we gave the seaweed a little rinsing. The garlic was carefully separated into cloves.

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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.

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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.

wellington planting garlic1_0427 Then we planted the garlic! Care was taken to make sure the clove was oriented correctly with the roots on the bottom.

Thank you Adrian, Alejandro, Collin, Donovan, Gabe, Izzy, Kaio, Kellen, Makenna, Lulu, Molly, Serena and Mr. McCarthy!

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We had a great work part on the last Wednesday of August, with all ages coming to help us harvest (180 lbs!) and turn over beds for fall plantings.

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Our Rainbow Lacinato kale planted in March has been a steady producer all season long, but it was time to take it out.

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The new kale we planted in the summer is so prolific, tender and enormous!

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Riley had fun harvesting beets, and very carefully washing and laying them out to dry.

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We also harvested basil, beans, carrots, lettuce, collards, arugula, tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers, ground cherries, pears, asian pears and leeks!

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More veggies on the way!

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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

For more information and registration click HERE

SWA harvest

Learning for the students and fresh veggies for the Good Cheer Food Bank!

Go to and HERE to read about the great growing and learning that  has been happening at the South Whidbey Academy Garden, Langley Middle School Garden, and Whidbey Institute Westgarden!

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Lettuce galore, spinach, kale, chard, arugula, basil, bokchoi, cilantro, baby beets and carrots, peas and strawberries…

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All these veggies going into the Food Bank, and yum, also in our salad at the Wednesday work party picnic at noon.

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With this glorious June weather, the flowers are delightful and we’ll be harvesting the first zucchini soon. Tomatoes planted out in the field are also happy! At this summer solstice time, we have much gratitude for the sun!

A big appreciation also to students and teachers from the Billings Middle School, who accomplished so much during their second annual visit to the garden!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Seattle Waldorf School Ninth Grade: Kara Lyons-Hammond, Mariah Crawford, Terra Huyey, Georg Brudi, Samantha Hollos-Bist, Margaret Boram, Jori Wink, Noah Simon, Peter Jacobs, Kelly Rones, Adam Hess, Ravi Robinson, Aden Fallows, Leander Ramirez, Iain Kelly, Eve Dunkley, Sam Crewe-Sullam and teacher Jay Freundlich.


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