King 5 features South Whidbey school lunches and gardens!

King 5 featured a terrific story by reporter Ted Land about scratch cooking returning to school lunchrooms, and highlighted what the South Whidbey School District is doing to grow and prepare fresh food for lunch, as well as teach students how to cook.

Click HERE for the video!


Posted in Updates from the garden!

Delicious food and live auction Friday 5/12 at Useless Bay Coffee Company for a GREAT cause!

Grow Whidbey is a collaborative apprenticeship program between Good Cheer and South Whidbey School Farms that trains motivated individuals to grow food for community and teach youth through experiential garden and nutrition classes. Of 20 alums of the apprenticeship program, seven have stayed on South Whidbey to continue work in the field of sustainable agriculture and education.

This year, Grow Whidbey is blessed with three lovely individuals–Corey Wills, Good Cheer Garden apprentice; Michael Ferncase, School Farm Production apprentice; and Ryan Viscito, School Farm Curriculum apprentice–who have come from all over the country to grow food for and provide garden-based education to the food insecure and youth in our community.

On Friday, May 12 at Useless Bay Coffee Company please join us for a fun and delicious night filled with generosity to raise the match and fund this essential program! 

  • Fantastic food donated by Useless Bay Coffee Company
  • Live auction featuring items donated by Boatyard Inn, BugaBay Company, local artists, and community members
  • A $10,000 matching grant from Hand in Hand Partners doubles your dollar!

The apprentices are a key part of the Good Cheer and School Farm programs! Your contribution supports educating South Whidbey youth with garden-based education, feeding community members with fresh, local produce, and training the next leaders and teachers in sustainable agriculture.

Tickets are $100 and available at Good Cheer Thrift Stores as well as at With a generous $10,000 matching grant from Hand in Hand Partners, your dollar goes twice as far to Grow Whidbey! You can also make a reservation by calling Good Cheer at 360-221-0130 (ask for Anh) or e-mailing Thank you and hope to you see you there!

Posted in Funding support, Grow Whidbey apprentices, Leadership Training

Earth Day 2017


Friday, April 21 dawned with brilliant sunshine and calm skies. The weather graced our second annual Earth day event at the school farms. Tents had been put up, food prepared, and activities made ready for the students who attended the event with their teachers in an all day celebration of the Earth.

Students participated in art activities that used natural materials in order create lasting and permanent garden/school art. Mandalas were painted on smooth stones, weavings created out of natural materials on the garden fence, and habitat buildings constructed in hopes of attracting pollinators and beneficial insects to the garden.

Students used naturally dyed yarn to create circle weavings. Some of the dyes were taken from the School Farm’s natural dye flowers and plants. Faery houses and rock friends are  being checked on by the kindergarten and first grade students as they come to the garden for classes. They want to see if they can catch a faery sleeping in the little house they made on Earth Day.

The third, fourth and fifth grade students helped prepare for the event by cooking in the WIN kitchen during the days prior to Earth Day. Vegetable soup, pea shoot pesto, and hummus(including, beet, carrot, and plain) were all made by the students. The fun part was watching them eat and enjoy the food they had grown, prepared and finally devoured after their art or building activities were complete.

During the week after Earth Day the garden teachers had the delight and pleasure of hearing student comments such as, ‘Earth Day was awesome!’,  ‘I loved the soup we made’,  ‘Pea shoot pesto is delicious!’ and many projections of activities that they want to try next year.


Big appreciations to the Earth Day team.

It was an awesome Earth Day 2017.


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Photo Credits to:  Bill Birney, Meg Peterson and Cary Peterson

Posted in Updates from the garden!

Signs of Spring

Between the rain, wind and unpredictable weather, students have been courageously working on spring garden tasks. Some days, we’ve had to move our classes indoors to the greenhouse or the Garden Resource center. However, beds have been weeded, cleaned, and planted. Students love working and watching the garden transform as a result of their efforts. We’re learning each and every week what it takes to make our garden grow strong and healthy with all the vegetables we love to eat.

The hearty kale is still providing garden nibbles for students along with the sorrel plants with their new green shoots. Grade five students have been learning how to grow micro greens indoors and the lush growth of pea shoots and lettuce mix have provided green nibbles for the whole school.

Grade two students have worked together to plant an entire bed with field peas that will grow into a bed of sweet green shoots for delicious garden nibbles.

First and second graders have been getting up close and personal with the soil by learning all about wire worms. We prefer to keep this garden pest out of our garden. Students made their own wire worm traps with skewered potatoes and flags with their names on them. Carefully checking the traps when they come to the garden and placing the caught wireworms in a big tin can saves our vegetables and provides endless fascination with the soil as students notice all the creatures therein.

The diversity of seeds from beans to lettuce is a topic that third graders are beginning to know well. They’ve learned about seed families along with shape and size of seeds while examining, sketching, sorting and finally planting seeds to be placed in a mixed salad bar garden after spring break.

The engineers of grade four and SWA have been creating designs for pea trellis’s based on the peas habits of growth. Students have worked in groups to sketch and model trellis’s that they will build outside. SWA students have built their trellis’s and the Grade Four students have planted peas and will build their trellis’s after spring break.

Everyday, we hear someone say “I love the garden”.  We all know, that’s the magic ingredient that makes the garden grow.

Posted in Updates from the garden!

Welcome Mike Ferncase!

A big and warm welcome to 2017 Grow Whidbey School Farm production apprentice Mike Ferncase!

“I grew up in Encinitas, CA known mainly for it’s surf, and producing most of the Poinsettia’s for the U.S. Despite the large number of farms and other agricultural facilities I never really considered farming a viable career path. It wasn’t until I got out of the Army last May that my eyes were opened.

I’ve always had a passion for working with children, but it wasn’t until working on my first farm that I discovered which direction I wanted to take that passion. I joined the Army as a medic so I could learn to help people. After training I was assigned to pediatrics, where I worked for two years. Upon leaving the Army I was afforded the opportunity to work on a non-profit organic farm. This experience drastically changed my ideas about how I could make the greatest impact on my community. I had many duties while working at that farm, but the one that gave me the greatest sense of fulfillment was working with the underprivileged children that lived in the transitional housing the farm funded. Teaching local kids about the food they ate while helping them to develop a sense of understanding and respect for their environment was immensely gratifying. After that experience I needed more so I set out for SE Asia where I worked in several different farm-like environments over the span of about seven months.

I take immense pleasure in working on the land, and these experiences over the last year have only forged a stronger passion for environmental science and education which I plan on returning to school for once this apprenticeship is over. I believe working in medicine, and on farms has instilled a unique perspective for me. It’s quickly become apparent that farming is very much like medicine. Just as medicine uses science to help the patient, there is a science to cultivating healthy crops, and just as medicine requires a strong bedside manner, farming requires a thoughtful and compassionate nature to produce the desired products. This apprenticeship has only reinforced this belief, and I’m so grateful that I’m able to impart this knowledge and understanding to the next generation on a daily basis. Teaching children about the earth has been the most incredible, transforming experience in my life so far, and I can’t wait to continue that journey here in this amazing community.

~~~ Mike

Posted in Grow Whidbey apprentices, Updates from the garden!

New High School Garden launched!

We have launched a new garden at the High School! John Patton, HS Principal, asked us if we could turn the lawn out front into a garden that would grow vegetables for the students, flowers for pollinating and beneficial insects, and herbs for culinary classes, as well as provide a wide range of garden-based curriculum opportunities for the High School students and incoming Middle School students. Yes!

On March 8, the only sunny day in weeks of rain, Chris Korrow came with his super shovel spader and tilled the field that had been staked out with beds for growing and a large area for picnic tables and gatherings.


On Earth Day, over 300 HS students will be helping to install the fence, amend the beds with compost, terrace the slope, and plant veggie starts. Stay tuned!


Posted in Updates from the garden!

Welcome Ryan Viscito!

A big and warm welcome to 2017 Grow Whidbey School Farm curriculum apprentice Ryan Viscito!

I grew up associating agriculture with vast corn fields, crowded cows, the pungent smell of commercial mushroom production, and the horse-powered farms of the Amish. I spent most of my life in eastern Pennsylvania, surrounded by yet disconnected from agriculture.

I did not realize this disconnect until two years ago. After earning a degree in early grades education, I moved to California to live, teach, and learn on an educational farm. There, I developed a connection with my food and the earth which had a profoundly positive impact on my well being. I simultaneously realized the potential of farm-based education to create similarly powerful experiences for children.

As I learned more about agriculture and ecology, my interest grew into a passion. I went back to Pennsylvania last year to farm full-time, and while I enjoyed it, I felt like something crucial was missing from the equation. I came to Whidbey to not only share my love of farming with others, but also to facilitate joy and wonder, and to inspire children to live happy, healthy lives. The school farm is an incredible place to do so, and I am grateful to be a part of it.

~~~ Ryan

Posted in Updates from the garden!