Three am musings from the president, aka—one who presides, not one who decides.
In 2012, WSU identified the need for food bank gardens in a report on critical food needs. Local 20/20 was envisioning food security for all. Community gardens were formed. A foodbank model from Whidbey was adopted through support from the WSU Master Gardeners and the Port Townsend Foodbank located in the former Mountainview School on Blaine Street in Port Townsend. The vision was for a garden that would be available to people who have food needs to learn to grow and harvest. A greenhouse was built through funding from the Jefferson County Master Gardeners Foundation and the Jefferson County Food Bank Association. A second garden began at The Quimper Grange on unused land behind the building on the corner of Corona and Sheridan Streets. The Port Townsend Schools committed to a farm to school program with a third garden—a high school garden behind the Gael Stuart Building also on Blaine Street. The garden slowly began to roll up the parking lot into a school(s) production garden using a Freshman health class component with over 80 students growing vegetables and fruit. All gardens are listed under the “Garden Locations” section on our home page where updates and yearly summaries can be found.
That first year 800 pounds were produced. By 2018, over 20,000 pounds had been produced by 3 gardens.
Fast forward to 2018.
3 new gardens had been added.
The Foodbank Farm and Gardens had been incorporated as a 501C3 non-profit for several years. The group had formal Memorandum Of Understandings (MOUs) with landowners. It had procured insurance. It had developed a webpage and a facebook page. This past year, six gardens produced nearly 8,000 pounds of fresh, organically grown food for 2 foodbanks: Port Townsend and Tri-Area which had recently moved to a new, permanent location. Three team members joined the Jefferson County Local Food Systems Council.
That amount of food in 2018 was nearly half the amount grown in the first six years!
New member farmers are working to produce additional food for Quilcene, which would be the third of the four foodbanks in the loop.
This explosion of growth and production has consequences. The organization is composed of a team of independent growers. Currently, Swan Farm managers have expanded their vision to managing the newly formed Seed Library, and to growing more home gardens. They are looking for a volunteer manager to handle the growing Swan Farm, a Food Bank Garden, with Pea Patch component. See the “Seed Library” section on our home page for contact information and links to other resources.
The volunteer manager of the Port Townsend Birchyville Garden, has become the co-manager of the Sunfield Foodbank Garden in Port Hadlock. This means an opportunity for new farmers and/or Master Gardeners to come onboard. She is looking for a co-manager for Sunfield, which has an area of about 1700 sf to be planted with winter storage vegetables.
Birchyville Garden, Port Townsend, manager description
Birchyville is the smallest of the food-bank gardens. It is tucked away in a residential neighborhood south of Sims near Shoulds Nursery. It is ideally suited for growing lettuces, kale, chard, collards and herbs. It has some shadier areas but also sunny spots where beans, cukes or squash can be grown. Tomatoes did quite well there last summer. Currently, it is hand irrigated, but there are plans to bring a water source closer to the garden and install a drip system. The garden is surrounded by a wire fence. It is small enough to farm alone with some assistance for larger projects such as building supports for plantings or cover cropping. The garden was entirely planted last year with starts from Midori Farm and other food-bank gardens.
The manager of this garden would be working with the owner (Birch Shapiro, a horticulturalist) on the crop plan, as he very much would like to be involved.
For details, or to volunteer, contact… email@example.com