As the doors of South Whidbey High School get ready to open again this fall, the gates of the new garden out front are opening as well. This spring and summer season has been exciting at the school farms; our veggies are thriving at the newly installed SWHS garden.
In early March, High School principal John Patton offered up the front lawn as a potential garden space. After taking soil tests and designing the layout of the garden space we got to work cultivating the 10,000 sq. ft. plot. Twenty yards of cow manure from Whidbey Topsoil were spread over the area to be tilled. Then Chris Korrow came with his Italian shovel spader on his tractor to till up the beds.
Ground was tilled a second time just in time for the high school students to come out for Earth Day. They helped us prepare the beds for planting and were led by an amazing group of volunteers from the National Civilian Community Corps. We so appreciated all their hard work, even in the rain! Click HERE for a slideshow of the Earth Day work party and preparations.
Cedar Grove, compost from Seattle yard and food waste, donated compost to our program to help transform the lawn into a vegetable garden.
Whidbey Island Garden Tour granted us $5185 from this year’s tour proceeds to purchase seeds, amendments, fencing and irrigation supplies.
With help from Scott from our dream team, the masterminds of our infrastructure at the school gardens, we put up the fence and installed gates.
Students helped us plant peas, lettuce, flowers and built compost bins before they went on summer break. University of Washington students came out with local farmer Beth Wheat to build terraces on our sloped land, plant scarlet runner beans and put in gates.
Our staff and volunteers kept the momentum moving throughout the summer. At weekly Thursday work parties the garden beds were planted out with summer and fall veggies, dye flowers, herbs and pollinator attractants. This summer we have grown lettuce, tomatoes, summer squash, green beans, potatoes, basil, cilantro, cucumbers and kale.
Our harvest has been donated to volunteers, school district staff and Whidbey Island Nourishes (WIN). This fall we look forward to growing for the students at the high school and SNACC, our culinary arts program. Soon to be ready are pole beans, popcorn, radishes, turnips, chicory, carrots, beets and spinach.
The garden has been established because of community support and enthusiasm, with so many generous donations.
Pacific Utility, Whidbey Telecom’s contractor for the Big Gig installations, donated the work of installing the underground water lines. They used their equipment to install pipe to run water from the school out to the garden. This was no small feat. Click HERE to see how they did it. We are grateful for their hard work and persistence working with our hard pan soil and boring a hole under the road.
Worm compost is one of our favorite and more important soil amendments. Bugabay generously donated one of their in-ground worm bins to the garden. This bin will allow us to divert food waste from the cafeteria and turn it into organic matter for our soil. Johnny’s Selected Seeds granted our request for a Jang seeder. This tool lets us seed plants like carrots, beets, spinach, greens and radishes in a quick and efficient manner. It will also give the students an opportunity to experiment with a useful small scale farm tool.
We owe so many thank you’s to everyone who has helped create the high school garden! There are so many exciting things to come as the students return and their energy and ideas continue to shape their school and their garden. Stay tuned for future happenings!