Grow Whidbey: A new iteration of CGLT

This year, some exciting change is afoot! The Community Gardening Leadership Training is becoming Grow Whidbey: A collaborative apprenticeship program in community food production and garden-based education. The Whidbey Institute’s Westgarden is moving in a different direction and will no longer be part of the program, but the South Whidbey School District Farm and Garden Program and the Good Cheer Food Bank Garden are joining forces in a more focused collaboration. We are incredibly grateful for the Whidbey Institute having held the program over the years and all the support they’ve given along the way.

It makes sense to us to solidify the partnership between the food bank and school garden programs because: 1) They both focus on bringing freshly grown produce into institutions that do not normally provide healthy food options, and 2) The Big ACRE (Abundant Community Resources for Everyone) has been created which is a new farm located on school district land that now grows produce for both the Good Cheer Food Bank and the South Whidbey School Cafeterias.

Grow Whidbey will still have apprentices and they’ll be working in the Good Cheer Food Bank Garden, the new Big ACRE farm, and in the School Farm and Garden Program. Our new goal is to give motivated individuals the skills and knowledge they need to become growers and teachers in the field of sustainable community agriculture.

We’re quite excited about the new iteration of this strong and established program and we look forward to welcoming a new batch of apprentices next spring! Please explore our website to learn more!


Welcome to our new crew of apprentices!

We are thrilled to welcome our four new apprentices to the Community Gardening Leadership Training program this year! They’ve come to our island from all over the country and from varying backgrounds in activism, farming, and teaching. We are excited for what will unfold as we spend the next eight months together learning, gardening, and teaching!

--2016From left to right: Stoni Tomson, Good Cheer Garden apprentice. Devin Mounts, halftime Good Cheer Garden apprentice and halftime South Whidbey School District Farm and Garden apprentice. Liza Elman, South Whidbey School District Farm and Garden apprentice. Anna Strick, Whidbey Institute Westgarden Apprentice.

Stay tuned for their personal bios and more stories from the program!


Bayview Farmer’s Market Supports CGLT!

IMG_1649The Community Gardening Leadership Training (CGLT) is truly a community project. Three community organizations partner to make the apprenticeship run each year, our gardens are fueled by volunteers, generous community members house our apprentices each year, and now our local Farmers Market has made a generous donation to our program! The web of connections and support is so wonderful here on Whidbey Island.

For the past few years, the Bayview Farmers Market has taken any additional funds they have at the end of the year and given it back to the community. This year they have chosen CGLT as one of the lucky recipients! The image to the left shows Shirlee Read, the Bayview Farmer’s Market Board President, and Loren Imes, Board Treasure, handing over a $500 check to CGLT Coordinator Abigail Lazarowski.

Thank you Bayview Farmer’s Market for your generous donation and for all that you do for our community!

Now Hiring Apprentices for the 2016 Growing Season!

We are so excited to announce that applications are now open for the 2016 season of the Community Gardening Leadership Training! Click here to learn all about our program!

We are seeking four new apprentices to join our community food system on Whidbey Island next March. One apprentice will be centered at the Good Cheer Food Bank Garden and will help to grow many thousand pounds of food for underserved populations, manage their own satellite garden, lead large and diverse work parties and service learning groups, and help develop a new acre farm, another will be at the Whidbey Institute Westgarden and will engage in a diverse growing space and learn about garden leadership, and two others will be placed with the South Whidbey School District Farm and Garden Program where they will have the opportunity to grow food for the cafeterias and teach garden-based curriculum to over 600 students.

It is a very exciting time for our program; next year there is the possibility of expanding one of our growing sites considerably and incorporating more classes into the School Garden system. Please read more and consider applying!

CGLT Program Description 2016
CGLT Program Application 2016

For any questions contact:
Abigail Lazarowski,


What a Wonderful Season!

It’s been an incredibly productive and joyful season here on Whidbey Island! Take a look at what we’ve been up to!

Over at the Good Cheer Garden, they’ve been incredibly busy growing food for the Good Cheer Food Bank.  As of last week their harvest total was 7,550 pounds of vegetables including carrots, tomatoes, spinach and squash. That is 35 more pounds than last year and they still have many beds of roots and greens to harvest! Overall they’ve been able to have a more consistent harvest throughout the season, which means food bank clients are able to get fresh produce even in the early spring and late fall months when there is usually a shortage. Anh, the Garden Apprentice, has been heading up the Bayview garden this year which is a small plot adjacent to the Food Bank. She grew a whooping 347 pounds of winter squash and a beautiful array of peppers. They just tilled up the whole Bayview garden as well, effectively doubling the growing space. They were lucky to have many helpers in the garden this year including several large service groups and a dedicated group of weekly volunteers. Amidst all the hard work there was plenty of time to celebrate as well; above is a picture of the Garden Manager, Camille, and Food Bank Produce Manager, Lissa, weaving the May Pole at a spring garden celebration.

The South Whidbey School District Farm and Garden Program  has been blossoming this year! Every class in the Elementary School, all the k-5 science classes at South Whidbey Academy, and even some High School students are engaging in garden based curriculum at the School Farm this year. They’ve been planting pollinator gardens, tracking plant growth, building soil, and sowing cover crop. Amidst the classes they’ve been growing fresh produce for the school cafeterias, Whidbey Island Nourishes, the Good Cheer Food Bank, and for students to enjoy every time they visit the garden. Above is an image of a few students eating their ‘Garden Tacos’ which they get get to create with greens, flowers and fruit from the garden. Students love them! Halley, the School Garden Apprentice, has been leading the way at the Langley Middle School Garden where all 7th graders are able to come and learn each week. With the help of some community members they’ve also been able to double the growing space at the Middle School. They’ve accomplished so much this year I can’t wait to see where they go in 2016!

The Whidbey Institute’s Westgarden has been loving the sun this year. Our tomato harvest has doubled and the garden is looking more colorful than ever! We’ve even managed to grow a few peppers in our greenhouse which is pretty amazing for our shady forest garden. One exciting addition to the garden is our new chicken tractor which we built to give our beloved chickens more space to graze. The third grade class from Whidbey Island Waldorf School as well as a new group of home school students have been joining us in the garden as well, making it a truly intergenerational growing space. Margaret, our Westgarden Apprentice, has brought many gifts to the garden including her keen observation skills, strong work ethic, and kind demeanor. With her help and the help of a few very dedicated volunteers this year, the Westgarden is looking incredibly well cared for.

While hands on gardening, teaching and volunteer coordination encompasses most what we do, apprentices have also been having weekly garden classes and going on some interesting field trips. Some of the classes have been centered around the Soil Food Web, garden mapping, irrigation, plant disease identification and suppression, seed saving and medicine making. We’ve also traveled all over Cascadia visiting farms, community gardens, and food related non-profits to help apprentices learn about our regional food system.

We have great gratitude for our apprentices and for all the people who came out to help this year! It’s been such a wonderful season!