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!


Welcome 2015 apprentices!

apprentices april2015_7509 Welcome to the apprentices in the 2015 Community Gardening Leadership Training!

From left to right,

–  Anh Bui (Good Cheer Garden apprentice)

–  Camille Green (Good Cheer Garden Manager)

–  Cary Peterson (School Garden coordinator and CGLT co-coordinator)

–  Halley Shriber (School Garden apprentice)

–  Margaret Pickoff (Westgarden apprentice)

–  Abigail Lazarowski (Westgarden Manager and CGLT Co-coordinator)

Go to the School Farm and Garden, Good Cheer Garden and Westgarden websites to learn more about what the apprentices are growing and learning, and how they are contributing to growing fresh, healthy produce for the South Whidbey community, food bank and schools.

We are seeking one more school garden apprentice for the season! Click HERE for more info.

Community Gardening Leadership Training 2015

swsd-logo_sm copy Whidbey Institute new logo Good Cheer garden logo cropped

The South Whidbey School District, Good Cheer Food Bank, and the Whidbey Institute are partners in the Community Gardening Leadership Training that combines learning practical growing skills in small-scale food production together with developing the leadership skills needed to initiate and manage community gardening programs.

This training is for motivated individuals who wish to gain skills for future leadership positions in the field of sustainable community gardening. In this program, community gardening primarily refers to food bank gardens, school gardens and other non-profit gardens that rely on volunteers, and community outreach and support to grow food.

lunch together at work party2_4798 beans pulling up12_5996
Local non-profits, the School District, community volunteers and supporters, and a growing population of young farmers are collaboratively shaping a community-driven food system that addresses issues of health, education and food access on our rural island. For the past five years, interns have had the opportunity to work within this network and explore their interests in community food systems and food production, as well as to help strengthen it with their energy and ideas. With the skills cultivated in this program, many interns have moved into jobs in education, agriculture, and community gardening.

westgarden with roses_5599 radishes 5th grade1_5605 good cheer slope_shed_0742
We are seeking interns for the

  • South Whidbey School District Farm and Garden program
  • Good Cheer Food Bank Garden
  • Whidbey Institute Westgarden

abigail maggie mulching_3915Interns will be selected to focus on and learn one garden system well, but will also gain a broad set of skills and experiences by working together in the other gardens. It is the goal of the program to help interns develop the skill sets, knowledge and self-confidence so that they confidently move into leadership roles in a selected garden.
The interns will assist the garden coordinators in all aspects of garden production, and develop leadership skills in project management, volunteer coordination, community outreach, curriculum development and teaching. There will be regular classes and readings on practical growing skills and seasonally specific garden activities. Field trips to other community gardens/farms/non-profits will also be an important part of the training.

casey tomatoes peep n kidzInterns start in March and continue through October. Shorter terms may be possible, but preference is given to those who can commit to the full season.

We are the first non-profit farm program to participate in the Washington State Farm Internship Project, which enables us to pay a stipend and offer workmen’s compensation. In our program, interns are “apprentices” in the traditional sense of the word, where apprentices work alongside experienced gardeners and move into leadership roles as the season progresses.

Gardens in the program:

Good Cheer Garden

good cheer garden harvest fest2009_3689The Good Cheer Garden is a .4-acre intensive, volunteer-based, garden growing over 7000 lbs of produce annually for the Good Cheer Food Bank. It is a very public garden in front of the Food Bank growing produce exclusively for food bank clients. The garden is a hub of activity and community action drawing dozens of volunteers and community members each week. Interns will learn how to manage an intensive production garden space, coordinate large work parties and service learning groups. She/he will move into a leadership role managing the Bayview Garden adjacent to the Food Bank, and have the opportunity to develop other projects.

Whidbey Institute Westgarden

westgarden overview1_5282The Westgarden of the Whidbey Institute is a .4-acre garden that provides produce to the Food Bank and Whidbey Institute programs and is the outdoor classroom for Learning from the Land service learning programs. While this garden grows a diversity of vegetables, its scope is much wider. Its forest location, medicinal herbs and dye flowers make this garden a healing space as well. It offers volunteer opportunities for those in programs at the Whidbey Institute, as well as garden-based curriculum for the local Waldorf School.

South Whidbey School District Farm and Gardens

school farm overview1_0975The South Whidbey School District Farm and Gardens grow for the school lunches, and will be providing garden-based curriculum to grades K-12. The gardens also grow produce for the Good Cheer Food Bank and Whidbey Island Nourishes. South Whidbey is the first school district in the nation to deliver produce on a regular basis to a Chartwells-managed food service.

  • The new ½ acre School Farm provides garden-based curriculum to the South Whidbey Academy and the Elementary School while growing for the cafeterias.
  • Langley Middle School Garden is a small (10 bed) garden cultivated by the Seventh Grade science classes, and grows produce for the cafeterias. There are plans to double the size of the garden this year.
  • The South Whidbey Elementary School Garden is a tiny garden of raised beds cultivated by the Second Graders.
  • Interns will be growing and delivering fresh produce to the cafeterias each week, as well as teaching garden-based curriculum, and cultivating the garden with the students.
  • Two interns are selected to work at the School Farm and Gardens.

Training includes:

  • Leadership skills: Project management, volunteer coordination, work party coordination, outreach and publicity, curriculum development, teaching and public speaking, working with youth, service learning.
  • Sustainable agricultural practices: Soil cultivation, growing starts, planting, weeding, irrigation, harvesting, produce management, hoophouse cultivation, crop rotation, composting & vermiculture, record keeping.
  • Ongoing mentoring and regular check-ins to support the personal and professional growth and development of the apprentice.
  • This training may qualify you for internship credit. Please check with your advisor.

Position specifics:

  • Hours and duration: The training runs from March through October 31st. Each intern should expect to work a flexible 35 hr week, seasonally variable, with some weekend work as needed.
  • Compensation: We currently can offer a stipend of $300 per month and this amount may increase depending on fundraising. We are participating in the Farm Internship Project of the State of Washington.
  • Housing will be in a home-stay, or, if selected as the Whidbey Institute intern, in a rustic cabin.
  • Transportation: The gardens are about 5 miles from each other. A car is handy, but a bicycle is sufficient. There is free bus service on the island, but connections between the gardens are not ideal. We make every effort to support interns who choose low-carbon bicycle transportation.
  • Food: from the gardens and Food Bank.
  • Interview process: Final applicants will be interviewed in person or by Skype.
  • Applications requested by January 15th, 2015.

Community Gardening Leadership Training APPLICATION 2015

Community Gardening Leadership Training DESCRIPTION 2015

To apply, please send application to
Abigail Lazarowski

Below is a graphic of the interconnections in this community-based program. For the pdf, click HERE. CGLT-forWeb-Resized-Lo-res copy