On June 13, 2019, both The Leader and Peninsula Daily News sent reporters to cover Representative Michael Chapman’s visit. The PDN covered the Grange in the June 14, 2019 edition and The Leader covered the High School Garden for publication in the next week’s edition.
At the Grange Garden, discussion focused on practices we have been implementing in order to build the soil and conserve water: a recent volunteer has donated and is installing an upgraded irrigation system that will measure water use and adjust for varying water pressure needs in the green houses and beds. Water is also collected from roof runoff. Other volunteers have donated time and expertise by building additional raised beds, new worm bins, the addition of biochar to the compost, crop rotation, cover cropping. A food bank volunteer, a previous food bank patron, “gave back” by building deer fencing and is currently managing tomato growing in the green houses.
It was fun and from our viewpoint, went very well indeed. We were able to discuss ALL the Jefferson County foodbank gardens with Rep. Chapman, as well as the Seed Library, ongoing food storage needs in addition to other food issues and concerns.
Those in attendance were, George Yount (Quimper Grange), Kathy Ryan (President FBFG), Francisco Tortorici and his wife Joan (donators of biochar to the Grange and all school gardens), Mado Most (Birchyville / Sunfield/ Seed Library), Stacey Larsen (School Food Service Manager), Sasha Kaplan (PT Foodbank and Farmers Market Board who works with us on storage/freeze drier and made a wonderful tart). Sue Cross was packing 300 food backpacks for kids at the Tri Area Foodbank and was unable to attend.
At the High School both Superintendent Polm and Assistant Superintendent Gessner came out to the garden and met with Rep. Chapman. Energy was high and positive. Zach Gayne, who teaches all aspects of the gardening program at the high school, spoke with Rep. Chapman about his program and plans for expansion throughout the school system. He explained the newly installed “insectory”, the new food washing and prep area the roof of which was donated and installed by Hope Roofing. The recently acquired large scale composter which is one of three scheduled to be installed at each of the Port Townsend schools, has been in service for a short time but is working to expectations. Those will transform all school compostable waste into healthy, usable soil.
Zach also wanted to let folks know that The High School Garden will be part of the Farm Tour this year and that they are looking for volunteers to help this summer.
Rep. Chapman was very positive about our submitting a legislative grant request for two freeze driers. He now wants to meet with Foodbank folks because there is currently no budgetary line item for state support of foodbanks. He was chagrined to hear the use was up despite the economy being “good”. It isn’t for everyone.
He mentioned having gotten support for the Foodbank in Port Angeles, his efforts in Gray’s Harbor and with the Tribes as well.
We were able to provide Representative Chapman the census summary sheet from the newly released 2017 Agriculture Census by the USDA. This was made available through the WSU Extension at the June 12thChimacum Grange meeting. We were also able to support the efforts of WSU and note that Jefferson County leads the state in Women reporting as farmers as well as Veterans entering Agriculture. Port of Port Townsend Commissioner, Bill Putney’s efforts to provide support for an agricultural incubator for small farmers to utilize and a mobile slaughterhouse on airport land were brought up by PDN, so it was good to be able to support that and the efforts of the Jefferson County Local Food Systems Council, a part of Local 20/20.