We must apologize for a delayed update on the garden, although rest assured that our absence in the online world is simply a sign of a gloriously busy summer!

beets and leeks tomats

Every Wednesday our fleet of volunteers helps to harvest and bag kale, chard, lettuce, spinach, beets, carrots, and beans, and get cucumbers, zucchinis, and tomatoes out into the food bank. Camille and Sonya do another harvest of beans, cukes, zukes, and tomatoes on Monday and Friday just to keep up with the prolific plants. The abundance at this time of year is a wonderful thing, and keeps us busy.



On the 4th of July we continued the tradition of biking in the parade in costumes, bearing baskets of fresh vegetables to hand out in lieu of candy.




Keep an eye out soon for our first harvest of winter squash! We’ve got some particularly huge specimens growing up at the Bayview Garden behind the former Bayview School – come swing by and check out what’s growing over there at our satellite garden.

bayview!!big dang squash

Although summer isn’t quite over (no, not yet!) we already have fall and winter on the mind as we plan for our overwintering crop rotation. This past month we’ve been busy planting greens and roots to be harvested for the food bank in the fall and winter.

As always, thanks to all the awesome volunteers who continue to come out and help us keep this garden in good shape! The flowers look beautiful, the vegetables taste great, we have more plums than we know what to do with, and we’re getting excited for next season.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.




So much has been happening at the Good Cheer Garden! Thanks to all the help from our volunteers so far this season, we have harvested just over one thousand pounds of produce in June and July alone (and July is just getting started!). We are also starting to harvest from the Bayview Garden, our satellite garden just across the field and right behind the old Bayview School (now the Whidbey Island Community Education Center). Two months ago this space was waist high in weeds and grasses, but thanks to volunteer help it has totally transformed and is now completely planted and producing for the food bank.

2014-05-22 11.14.36-1

The first two beds planted at the Bayview Garden back in May – squash!

Squash interplanted with lettuce

Getting bigger every day!













On the last Saturday of May, Good Cheer and the Bayview Garden received a huge surge of help from a group of students from Bastyr University in that school’s Naturopathic Medicine program. Thanks to their hard work and enthusiasm, all the remaining beds at Bayview got weeded, turned, and prepped for planting. That day was an incredible boost for the progress of the Bayview Garden – we are so grateful the service of these wonderful folks!


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Since then, thanks to this tremendous volunteer effort, all nine of the original beds are now planted at Bayview. And in late June we even created a 10th, along the fenceline —

2014-06-26 10.08.57

We ripped out a lot of sod!

2014-07-07 10.16.56

More squash please.













The Bayview Garden is now growing kale, arugula, radishes, carrots, leeks, a ton of winter squash, some delicious herbs, and PLUMS! – all of which will go directly to the food bank. We’ve already harvested over 50 pounds of greens. Stay tuned for more soon!

~~~Sonya Ekstrom

2014-07-06 17.06.17

All 10 beds planted!

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.


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

Kathy receiving veggies LMS 23may14 P1340364

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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

A big welcome to new Good Cheer Garden apprentice Sonya Ekstrom!

sonya clg photo2_2266In my life I seek to find work that grounds me in my own body and imagination, which connects me to people and the land, and which addresses the real problems threatening the planet and our communities on the local and global level. In the past few years I have found these aspects converge for me in the simple act of growing and consuming food locally and seasonally, with the understanding that my health and wellbeing are bound up with the larger health and stability of our planet and its systems.

Originally hailing from Davis, California, I am coming to Whidbey from Seattle where I have lived, worked, and studied for the past six or so years. Before arriving on the island in the beginning of May I had been working as an intern for Seattle Tilth, an experience that ignited my desire to more fully immerse myself in the practice of growing food – eventually leading me here.  I am thrilled to be a part of this program, learning alongside such an inspiring and motivated group of people, and experiencing the majesty of the Pacific Northwest for the first time outside of the city!

~~~~~  Sonya

The Food Bank has been growing. Last year, over 25,000 pounds of fresh local fruits and vegetables were made available to food bank clients. In that total, over 7,000 pounds came from the Good Cheer Food Bank Garden, over 1,000 came from the schools, and over 16,000 came from other local gardeners and farmers.

2013 production by source 2

In fact, our work was recently recognized by Food Lifeline, a Washington Food Bank Distributor. The Good Cheer Food Bank and Thrift Stores was given the Award in Excellence in Food Resource Development for our work in bring more good food to food bank clients.

With a growing program comes new staffing needs, and we are pleased to announce that Lissa Firor started as the Good Cheer Food Bank Produce Manager in November, and Camille Green started as the Good Cheer Food Bank Garden Manager in January.

lissa blanching cam with lettuce

Both Lissa and Camille came to Whidbey as Community Garden Leadership Training Apprentices in the 2013 season. Lissa quickly settled into her role inside the food bank, doing an unbelievable job of organizing the walk-in refrigerator, preserving produce, coordinating volunteers, and tracking donations. Camille put her roots down in the garden and made quick friends with the compost worms and soil microorganisms, gratefully utilizing our stellar growing season to help grow the biggest harvest yet.

During these transitions, we want to especially acknowledge Cary Peterson, who helped to start the Good Cheer Garden in 2009.

Cary laughs during a soil lesson with 2nd graders

Cary laughs during a soil lesson with 2nd graders

Cary has been an extremely dedicated Garden Coordinator as well as vegetable consultant, soil specialist, food security advocate, and community facilitator. Her years of dedicated work and focused energy, attention, and knowledge have been instrumental and invaluable in building the garden and in getting it to the place it is today. We are grateful to have benefited from her drive and passion for so many years, and are excited for future partnerships as Cary turns her considerable energy and enthusiasm to helping to develop the South Whidbey School Gardens, and continue the Community Gardening Leadership Training program with the Whidbey Island Community Education Center.

Cary and last year's four apprentices: Alexa, Camille, Lissa, and Casey

Cary and last year’s four apprentices: Alexa, Camille, Lissa, and Casey

As our community food system grows and develops here on South Whidbey, we want to thank all the volunteers, donors, and generally supportive community members who are helping us to develop a more self-sufficient and sustainable means of living. Here’s to another great season!

As we transition from winter to spring, the garden continues to grow.

field lettuce and kale bok choi

Our field crops look happy, the greenhouse is still cranking out starts, and our hoop house crops are almost growing quicker than we can keep up!

pea blossom

The peas in our hoop house have started to blossom, and will be our first pea harvest of the season.


In our greenhouse, our tomato starts are nice and warm. At the end of the month they will be planted out in the hoop house, and in May certain varieties will be planted outside.

We’ve started harvesting kale, arugula, chard, lettuce, and spinach out of the hoop house.

giant winter spinach dale and anne

And some of the field spinach is even ready to be harvested!

spinach and cilantro cheryl harvesting spinach

We’re also excited to welcome the newest apprentice in the Community Gardening Leadership Training program. Abigail will mostly be working at the Whidbey Institute West Garden, but will also help out at the Good Cheer garden, as well as the school gardens.

abigail with worm

We are trying to give away more starts to food bank clients, and extra donated seeds, which has been wildly popular. Hundreds of seed packets were gone within two days, and a flat of lettuce (78 starts) usually only sticks around for about a day.

seed remnants starts giveaway

If you have extra seeds, vegetable starts, or plastic pots and trays that you would like to share with food bank clients, please contact Camille at goodcheergarden@gmail.com. We would love to be able to share more gardening materials with good bank clients!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We’ve had some beautiful, sun-shiny days, and for now we’re happy to get some rain. Stay tuned for more updates, and visit our facebook page for more photographs: https://www.facebook.com/goodcheergarden.

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!





Master Gardeners pallet bins_3511

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.

Master Gardener turning compost pile1_3514 Master Gardeners WICEC compost1_3517

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.

Master Gardeners compost class_3521

Thank you future Master Gardeners!

butterfly sage1_8593  bee in poppy2_9307

Beneficial bugs abound in our gardens and you can create a diverse garden ecosystem to encourage them! You can attract not just pollinating insects, but also the insects that will eat pests. The soil, too, is alive with billions of organisms that help to create a fertile soil.

On Saturday, April 5th, from 10 am – 12 noon learn about the

  • amazing web of life in our soil and how to nurture it
  • pollinators that are essential for our gardens, and our community
  • predators and parasitoids that keep our garden ecosystem from becoming unbalanced
  • flowers and herbs we can plant to attract beneficial insects, and when to plant them
  • garden practices to help our garden ecosystem become diverse and thrive

wasp with umbell  ladybugs  beetle

Presented by Cary Peterson, Community Gardener.

Location: WICEC (Whidbey Island Community Education Center) at the historic Bayview School, 5611 Bayview Road, Bayview Corner, Langley.

Fee: $15, or donation. No one turned away for lack of funds. For more information and to register go to www.wicec.us or call 360-221-5020

WICEC Logo cropped2

5611 Bayview Road, Langley, WA
Located in the historic Bayview School at Bayview Corner
(next to the Good Cheer Garden)




growinggroceries may banner


Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 60 other followers