COVID-19

Despite the current difficult circumstances we are finding ourselves in we, as a community, nation and world, find ourselves in it is imperative that we let you know that the gardeners and gardens are continuing to work with our partners both at the local and county levels. We are continuing to provided food and support to all our neighbors in each of our communities.

Aside from the food banks there are numerous other resources available to assist all of us in coping with day to day issues during these trying times. The best ways to access these other resources is through the internet. Among the resources at our local level include: The Leader, the Peninsula Daily News, KPTZ Radio, Local 20/20, Jefferson Healthcare as well as your local school district.

And despite the dark clouds, we have a lot of good news to share. We have had a number of successful work parties recently. They’ve been doing plantings as well as harvesting for the local food banks. We have a new food bank garden. An eighth food bank garden has been added and it is located at Raincoast Farm on Rt. 19 in Port Townsend. We are looking forward to a growing partnership with them in the future. And we are also welcoming a new volunteer coordinator, Rachel Smith! So, yes! There are good things happening despite some of the other news.

So we wish you all the best of health. Take care of yourselves and check on your neighbors (from a safe distance), especially those in susceptible circumstances. These can be the best of times as well as the worst of times. We can make a difference.

In Health.

The Food Bank Farm & Gardens of Jefferson County, WA

Freeze Dryer Pilot Project – Read & Donate Here

Go Fund Me Link

The Food Bank Farm and Gardens of Jefferson County are continuing a fund raising campaign to purchase two residential size freeze dryers. initially during a pilot project we will be freeze drying only produce grown locally and given to the food banks by grocery stores or other suppliers.

This pilot project will:

  • Reduce Waste – The freeze dryer pilot project will help us reduce the amount of wasted food.  Hundreds of pounds of fresh produce and fruit come into food banks during the three months of peak harvest and not all can be given away before it spoils.
  • Create a Food Reserve – A freeze dryer will allow us to create a supply of food for winter months, when very little fresh produce comes in.  If fresh produce or canned produce (which has a shorter shelf life than freeze dried) is not available, the freeze dried produce can be distributed.
  • Assure a Supply of High Nutritional Value Food – Freeze drying preserves 96% of the original food value of the fresh food, a higher percentage than canning or dehydrating. Freeze drying can also produce a reconstituted product that is more attractive and closer to fresh than canning or dehydrating, or even frozen. Additionally, freeze dried food does not require special storage units or electricity.

Go Fund Me Link

The dryers we plan to purchase are large stainless models from HarvestRight, with a maximum annual capacity of 2,500 lbs. These are commercially rated models (required for placement in a licensed kitchen, a health department requirement). We will gather data during the 2-year pilot project and use this data to plan and implement phase 2, which includes further development of freeze drying locally. One goal of phase 2 is to establish and foster a small business based on freeze drying. Another is to acquire a mobile facility that would provide small batch processing capability (canning, dehydrating, and freeze drying) to small farmers, allowing them to create a value-added marketable product. The mobile facility would also serve as an educational platform for local schools and agricultural extension, demonstrating and teaching food preservation on location.

The cost of the pilot project will be $20,000. The final cost of phase 2 is yet to be determined, but will be in the neighborhood of $75,000.

Your donation will be 100% dedicated to this specific project.

Left = Reconstituted Freeze
Dried
Right = Thawed Frozen
You’d prefer …
FD Vegs for stir frying.
Just add water to reconstitute.
Fresh Bell Peppers
Freeze Dried Bell Peppers

Go Fund Me Link

Updated June 1, 2020

Harvest Dinner Fundraiser

Dearest Community,
Please join The Community Wellness Project at the annual Harvest Dinner on Thursday, October 24th, in support of garden education, local farm-to-cafeteria and public school nutrition efforts! Hosted at Finnriver by the Community Wellness Project. Tickets can be purchased at jccwp.org

Your tickets and contributions go to supporting school garden outdoor classrooms, community connected learning opportunities and healthy farm-to-cafeteria menu options for both the Chimacum and Port Townsend School Districts.

Creating a foundation of healthy eating in school children supports academic progress and all around well-being.

Hands-on activities in the school gardens gives students a direct connection with the food they eat and not only will improve wellness but also plants the seed of stewardship of the natural world around us.
Please help share the word of our little fundraiser and post to your events calendar!

Sincerely,

Shayna Wiseman, Community Wellness Program

History Articles

New Food Bank Gardens for Jefferson County

 2014/04/24 /  

New Food Bank Garden Project for Port Townsend and Jefferson County

Written by Lys B, Port Townsend Food Bank Gardens Leadership Team

The first Port Townsend Food Bank Garden was established in March, 2012, with a grant from the Master Gardner Foundation of Jefferson County to the JCFBA (Jefferson County Food Bank Association).  The grant provided for a hoop house situated at Mountain View Commons on garden space transferred from the YMCA that is designated to grow food specifically for the Port Townsend Food Bank.

During the summer of 2012, produce was also furnished for the food bank from a garden located at Port Townsend High School and seeded by high school student volunteers. Prior to the PT Food Bank Gardens Project, the vegetables from this garden were rarely harvested since students were out of school in the summertime.   Thanks to the project, volunteers delivered a total of 780 pounds of fresh, organic food to the PT Food Bank from both gardens that year.

The 2013 growing season saw the PTFB Gardens Project expand to three gardens, including additional space at the Quimper Grange Garden. Thanks to a generous grant from the Jefferson County Master Gardener’s Foundation to the Port Townsend High School, the size of this garden doubled in order to grow more food. It now has 5000 square feet and produced 1600 pounds of organic vegetables for the PT Food Bank last year.

Food Bank Garden volunteers work to renew garden beds at the Quimper Grange Garden in March, 2014. 

Two other gardening efforts furnish produce for Jefferson County food banks.  The Swan Valley Community Garden in Port Hadlock has several beds dedicated to the Tri – Area Food Bank and the Quilcene Demonstration Garden has dedicated a large space for the Quilcene Food Bank.  The Quilcene Demontration Garden is run  under the able leadership of master gardeners Juanita Thomas and Anita McCue. Vegetable gardening classes are offered every Monday at noon at the Quilcene garden.

Volunteers celebrate hoop house creation

If you are interested in more information or in participating in the PT Food Bank Gardens Project, please contact Karen K., Coordinator, at ptfoodbankgarden@gmail.com or call 531-2536. 2014

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Fresh from the Gardens to the Food Bank

George Yount mulching at the Quimper Grange Food Bank Garden
Gillian Kenagny and Denese Easterly volunteers at Raincoast Farms.

Posted Wednesday, April 29, 2020 3:00 amLily Haight 
lhaight@ptleader.com

George Yount spreads mulch in the Quimper Grange garden. Many volunteers spend hours growing vegetables in this garden to donate to the Port Townsend Food Bank. This is one of eight gardens in Jefferson County that grows produce for food banks.

LEADER PHOTO BY LILY HAIGHT

In a time when many are without jobs and might be struggling to pay the bills, Jefferson County residents don’t have to worry about affording fresh produce.

That’s because all across the county, volunteers are getting their hands dirty to help their fellow community members stay healthy.

There are eight food bank gardens in the county, where groups of these volunteers spend hours planting, weeding and watering fruit and vegetables such as lettuce, kale, green beans, peas, tomatoes, rhubarb, raspberries, herbs, potatoes, onions, garlic and more.

Then, they harvest the fruits of their labor, wash, bag and deliver them to the Port Townsend, Tri-Area, Quilcene and Brinnon food banks where they are distributed to food bank customers.

“I used the food banks for two years in this community because there aren’t a whole lot of high-paying jobs here,” said Rachel Smith, the volunteer coordinator for Food Bank Farm and Gardens. “It’s an incredible thing to be able to go into a food bank and have fresh produce.”

The original food bank garden, located at the Port Townsend Mountain View Commons, started in the spring of 2012 and was assisted by a grant from the Jefferson County Master Gardeners Foundation and a donation from the Jefferson County Food Bank Association to construct a hoop house for tomato production.

That year, volunteer gardeners harvested and delivered 800 pounds of fresh produce to the food bank. The next year, the garden expanded to three community gardens in Port Townsend, including one at Port Townsend High School, where students grow food.

Fast forward to today and five more community gardens have popped up in the Tri-Area. In addition, several farms, such as Sunfield Farm and Finnriver Farm, have dedicated space to growing food for the food banks.

The food bank gardens donated at least 6,000 pounds of fresh produce to the Port Townsend, Tri-Area, Brinnon and Quilcene food banks in 2019.

“What I like about our food banks is that they’re for everyone,” said Jo Yount, supervisor at the Quimper Grange garden. “If you come in and say you need food, you get food.”

Yount works with about 15 regular volunteers to design a space that is regenerative, healthy and produces lots of food for the community.

She is always looking for creative ways to grow food, whether by trellising the raspberries so they get more sunlight and are easier to pick, or by growing potatoes in cloth bags so they take up less space and are easier to harvest.

“We try to find things we know people are missing,” she said.

In the Quimper Grange’s hoop house, they grow tomatoes, lettuce and spinach. They provide salad and stir-fry mixes for the food bank so customers can get a little bit of everything.

“We try to get the most product out of the space we’ve got,” Yount said.

Last year, they delivered 3,000 pounds of food to the Port Townsend Food Bank.

But beyond providing for the community, the volunteers at the various gardens get the chance to learn about growing food.

“It gets people involved in the community together, caring for each other,” Smith said. “Especially right now, it’s super important. It teaches people how to garden, too.”

In the future, Food Bank Farm and Gardens organizers hope to grow their production even more.

They currently have a GoFundMe page to purchase freeze dryers to reduce food waste. 

Smith hopes to engage younger people, including kids who are not in school right now, or young adults who have temporarily lost their jobs due to the coronavirus, to start volunteering in the gardens.

“It’s an opportunity to get outside and be involved,” she said.

For those interested in volunteering, email foodbankfarmandgardensjc@gmail.com.

Farm to School Momentum via USDA Grant

USDA grant fuels farm-to-school momentum in PT

Stacey Larsen, Port Townsend School District's director of food service, checks on a tray of roasted beets Tuesday morning, Nov. 24, ahead of that day's Thanksgiving feast lunch. The beets, which came from Dharma Ridge Farm in Chimacum, were originally intended for teachers and staff only, but Larsen made too many and decided the students might like some, too. “They're like candy,” she said upon tasting one. “I think the kids will like these as much as the teachers.” Photo by Nicholas Johnson

Stacey Larsen, Port Townsend School District’s director of food service, checks on a tray of roasted beets Tuesday morning, Nov. 24, ahead of that day’s Thanksgiving feast lunch. The beets, which came from Dharma Ridge Farm in Chimacum, were originally intended for teachers and staff only, but Larsen made too many and decided the students might like some, too. “They’re like candy,” she said upon tasting one. “I think the kids will like these as much as the teachers.” Photo by Nicholas JohnsonPosted Tuesday, November 24, 2015 7:00 pmBy Nicholas Johnson of the Leader

Fresh, locally grown produce is finding its way into scratch-made school meals in Port Townsend thanks to willing farmers and visionary school district leaders.

First-year Food Service Director Stacey Larsen not only expects that trend to continue, but increase thanks to a $72,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) specifically intended to foster and expand relationships between local farmers and school kitchens.

“It’s been a great year so far and this money will help us continue our efforts to provide the good food that these kids deserve,” Larsen said.

The Farm to School Program grant is one of 74 spanning 39 states, with four awarded in Washington.

“Farm to school programs work – for schools, for producers, and for communities,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a press release. “By serving nutritious and locally grown foods, engaging students in hands-on lessons, and involving parents and community members, these programs provide children with a holistic experience that sets them up for a lifetime of healthy eating.”

The North Olympic Peninsula Resource Conservation and Development Council applied for the grant on behalf of the Port Townsend School District, which will have discretion over how to use the money.

“This project has been many years in the making and this is the second time we’ve applied for it,” council coordinator Kate Dean told the Leader, adding that one of the council’s missions is to strengthen the region’s agriculture industry. “Many of our school kitchens are not equipped at all to handle whole foods. This is an investment not only in infrastructure for the district but also health and learning outcomes for kids. It will also hopefully put money in the pockets of farmers.”

Vilsack said the federal program “provides a significant and reliable market for local farmers and ranchers,” evidenced by a survey indicating schools nationwide invested nearly $600 million in local products last school year.

The district purchases seasonal produce from Red Dog Farm and Dharma Ridge Farm, both of which are USDA certified organic. Larsen said the money would help build relationships with more farms, as well as ranchers and fishermen.

“My goal is to make healthy foods that kids will eat and then incorporate as much local produce as I can,” said Larsen, who sometimes goes to Colinwood Farm in Port Townsend when she needs something fresh in a pinch, such as seasonal squash. “The farmers I’ve worked with so far have been overjoyed that the kids are eating their produce. As the year goes on I would like to incorporate local meats and cheeses.”

Dean said $30,000 is earmarked for new kitchen equipment, $8,000 for installation of that equipment and another $8,000 for kitchen staff training. The grant would also pay for a school garden coordinator, plus tools and supplies, as well as an AmeriCorps volunteer through the county’s Washington State University Extension office.

“We wanted to have the flexibility to let the district set priorities for the funding,” Dean said, clarifying that while a chunk of the money is dedicated to equipment, Larsen and fellow district leaders will get to choose the specific appliances.

Larsen said she’s begun building a wish list of equipment that could make the efforts of her kitchen staff, which she calls nutrition specialists, not only easier but more versatile. She’s also eager to find ways to get students into the kitchen to learn about where their food comes from, how to plan a nutritionally balanced meal and how to prepare it.

“I think the kids are responding to this healthy food,” Larsen said. “One of our goals is to turn that high school kitchen into a teaching kitchen. I intend to do more food prep demonstrations with the kids and do taste tests and expose them to more of the variety that’s coming from our backyard.”

Superintendent David Engle said much of the new equipment purchases and installation would likely not come until summer 2016, though fostering relationships with whole food producers can begin much sooner.

Engle also said the grant would prompt district leaders to take a closer look at kitchen plans for the proposed new Grant Street Elementary campus. Those students are currently being served breakfast and lunch in the school hallway due to a lack of space.

“We know from research that the more kids know about nutrition and food preparation, the better dietary habits they will have over their lifetimes,” Engle said. “We’ll be looking at what we can do to beef up our garden at Grant Street and our orchard at Blue Heron. That education part is something I’m really excited about.”

Larsen said a high school garden is currently being expanded, as well. Those school gardens and orchards, she said, could soon be supplying a significant amount of the ingredients used in school meals.

For now, much of what Larsen is putting on the menu includes ingredients still unfamiliar to many students.

“Most of these kids had never had polenta before,” she said. “In November, we did polenta lasagna. I took something familiar and mixed it with something less familiar and it turns out they love polenta.”

Larsen said she plans to continue sneaking new ingredients into familiar dishes in hopes of keeping kids both healthy and intrigued.

“We’re not teachers like the classroom teachers,” Larsen said of her kitchen staff, “but we can still educate. Every time we serve breakfast or lunch we have an opportunity to do that.”

Farm to School Momentum via USDA Grant

USDA grant fuels farm-to-school momentum in PT

Stacey Larsen, Port Townsend School District's director of food service, checks on a tray of roasted beets Tuesday morning, Nov. 24, ahead of that day's Thanksgiving feast lunch. The beets, which came from Dharma Ridge Farm in Chimacum, were originally intended for teachers and staff only, but Larsen made too many and decided the students might like some, too. “They're like candy,” she said upon tasting one. “I think the kids will like these as much as the teachers.” Photo by Nicholas Johnson

Stacey Larsen, Port Townsend School District’s director of food service, checks on a tray of roasted beets Tuesday morning, Nov. 24, ahead of that day’s Thanksgiving feast lunch. The beets, which came from Dharma Ridge Farm in Chimacum, were originally intended for teachers and staff only, but Larsen made too many and decided the students might like some, too. “They’re like candy,” she said upon tasting one. “I think the kids will like these as much as the teachers.” Photo by Nicholas JohnsonPosted Tuesday, November 24, 2015 7:00 pmBy Nicholas Johnson of the Leader

Fresh, locally grown produce is finding its way into scratch-made school meals in Port Townsend thanks to willing farmers and visionary school district leaders.

First-year Food Service Director Stacey Larsen not only expects that trend to continue, but increase thanks to a $72,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) specifically intended to foster and expand relationships between local farmers and school kitchens.

“It’s been a great year so far and this money will help us continue our efforts to provide the good food that these kids deserve,” Larsen said.

The Farm to School Program grant is one of 74 spanning 39 states, with four awarded in Washington.

“Farm to school programs work – for schools, for producers, and for communities,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a press release. “By serving nutritious and locally grown foods, engaging students in hands-on lessons, and involving parents and community members, these programs provide children with a holistic experience that sets them up for a lifetime of healthy eating.”

The North Olympic Peninsula Resource Conservation and Development Council applied for the grant on behalf of the Port Townsend School District, which will have discretion over how to use the money.

“This project has been many years in the making and this is the second time we’ve applied for it,” council coordinator Kate Dean told the Leader, adding that one of the council’s missions is to strengthen the region’s agriculture industry. “Many of our school kitchens are not equipped at all to handle whole foods. This is an investment not only in infrastructure for the district but also health and learning outcomes for kids. It will also hopefully put money in the pockets of farmers.”

Vilsack said the federal program “provides a significant and reliable market for local farmers and ranchers,” evidenced by a survey indicating schools nationwide invested nearly $600 million in local products last school year.

The district purchases seasonal produce from Red Dog Farm and Dharma Ridge Farm, both of which are USDA certified organic. Larsen said the money would help build relationships with more farms, as well as ranchers and fishermen.

“My goal is to make healthy foods that kids will eat and then incorporate as much local produce as I can,” said Larsen, who sometimes goes to Colinwood Farm in Port Townsend when she needs something fresh in a pinch, such as seasonal squash. “The farmers I’ve worked with so far have been overjoyed that the kids are eating their produce. As the year goes on I would like to incorporate local meats and cheeses.”

Dean said $30,000 is earmarked for new kitchen equipment, $8,000 for installation of that equipment and another $8,000 for kitchen staff training. The grant would also pay for a school garden coordinator, plus tools and supplies, as well as an AmeriCorps volunteer through the county’s Washington State University Extension office.

“We wanted to have the flexibility to let the district set priorities for the funding,” Dean said, clarifying that while a chunk of the money is dedicated to equipment, Larsen and fellow district leaders will get to choose the specific appliances.

Larsen said she’s begun building a wish list of equipment that could make the efforts of her kitchen staff, which she calls nutrition specialists, not only easier but more versatile. She’s also eager to find ways to get students into the kitchen to learn about where their food comes from, how to plan a nutritionally balanced meal and how to prepare it.

“I think the kids are responding to this healthy food,” Larsen said. “One of our goals is to turn that high school kitchen into a teaching kitchen. I intend to do more food prep demonstrations with the kids and do taste tests and expose them to more of the variety that’s coming from our backyard.”

Superintendent David Engle said much of the new equipment purchases and installation would likely not come until summer 2016, though fostering relationships with whole food producers can begin much sooner.

Engle also said the grant would prompt district leaders to take a closer look at kitchen plans for the proposed new Grant Street Elementary campus. Those students are currently being served breakfast and lunch in the school hallway due to a lack of space.

“We know from research that the more kids know about nutrition and food preparation, the better dietary habits they will have over their lifetimes,” Engle said. “We’ll be looking at what we can do to beef up our garden at Grant Street and our orchard at Blue Heron. That education part is something I’m really excited about.”

Larsen said a high school garden is currently being expanded, as well. Those school gardens and orchards, she said, could soon be supplying a significant amount of the ingredients used in school meals.

For now, much of what Larsen is putting on the menu includes ingredients still unfamiliar to many students.

“Most of these kids had never had polenta before,” she said. “In November, we did polenta lasagna. I took something familiar and mixed it with something less familiar and it turns out they love polenta.”

Larsen said she plans to continue sneaking new ingredients into familiar dishes in hopes of keeping kids both healthy and intrigued.

“We’re not teachers like the classroom teachers,” Larsen said of her kitchen staff, “but we can still educate. Every time we serve breakfast or lunch we have an opportunity to do that.”

“Edible Landscape” Feeds Community

Patrick Ryland picks cabbage from the community garden at the Old Alcohol Plant. The garden goes to serve the restaurant at the hotel, but also the residents of Bayside Housing, a transitional housing service for individuals experiencing homelessness.

Patrick Ryland picks cabbage from the community garden at the Old Alcohol Plant. The garden goes to serve the restaurant at the hotel, but also the residents of Bayside Housing, a transitional housing service for individuals experiencing homelessness.PHOTO COURTESY KIRA MARDIKES

Posted Wednesday, April 15, 2020 3:00 am Lily Haight
lhaight@ptleader.com

Under the spring sun, shoots of green are beginning to pop up from dark soil.

At the Old Alcohol Plant Hotel in Port Hadlock, an edible landscape is coming to life.

Rows of flowers are beginning to grow and herbs are beginning to reach toward the sky, with the blue bay sparkling in the background. But it is also nutritious: lettuce, kale and radishes are coming up in terraced veggie gardens that overlook the bay, while fruit trees and berry bushes are blooming with the promise of sweetness in the future.

Local farmers Kira Mardikes and Patrick Ryland work the land in this garden, but they hope in the future to forge a community of people working the land together to benefit from the fruits and vegetables.

Mardikes and Ryland started farming together at Finnriver Farm. But in 2018, they met Gary and Susan Keister, owners of the Old Alcohol Plant and founders of Bayside Housing, who proposed the vision of an edible landscape on the property,  one that provides food as well as being beautiful. 

The food Mardikes and Ryland grow now goes to the Old Alcohol Plant’s kitchens, where it is made into dishes served at Spirits Bar and Grill. 

But produce also goes to residents of Bayside Housing, a transitional housing service at the hotel for those who are homeless.

Bayside is a grass-roots organization that developed in tandem with the Old Alcohol Plant Hotel in Port Hadlock. The restoration of the Old Alcohol Plant allowed for the creation of the non-profit, which receives funding from revenue generated by the hotel. As a result, 17 rooms in the hotel are available as transitional housing for homeless individuals and families.

Since opening in April 2016, Bayside has provided shelter to more than 80 people and transitioned 50 of those into more permanent housing situations. The hotel also provides job opportunities for people experiencing homelessness.

The community garden developed alongside the non-profit to provide produce for residents of Bayside, who might not have a steady income or be able to afford organically grown fresh fruits and vegetables.

“We also encourage residents to harvest food themselves,” Mardikes said. “Kale and raspberries are the most popular crops.” 

“It’s really fun to connect with residents who want to spend time in the garden.”

To create an edible landscape, Mardikes and Ryland have turned every inch of the property into a garden. There are lettuce patches and annual vegetables interspersed with herbs, orchard fruit, berry bushes and edible vines such as hops and goji berries. They also grow flowers throughout the garden.

The landscape not only provides nutrition and physical health for residents, but also joy, beauty and mental health.

“I think it’s something that a lot of people can feel subconsciously when they step on the property,” Ryland said. “We have a strong philosophy of building soil and the health of the soil. It permeates the whole experience of the place.”

The appreciation of a beautiful garden will come out in different ways, Mardikes said. 

“People will focus on certain expressions of it, like expressing awe over a 13-foot sunflower,” she said. “Things are alive here. Things are thriving here.”

Before the governor’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order went into place, Mardikes and Ryland were planning to work with Bayside Housing to open the garden up as a community space with volunteers working the land and in return receiving fresh fruits and vegetables.

They still plan to do this, but have put the plan on hold until the order is lifted.

“We want to open it up to anyone feeling like they need to get their hands in the dirt,” Mardikes said. “Especially right now, socially distanced common gardening is an activity people can do and still stay healthy.”

For now though, the two are generating interest from community members who might want to be involved in the future, as well as continuing to grow food for the Old Alcohol Plant, Bayside residents and local food banks.

While the governor’s order is in place, the hotel is closed to guests, but Spirits Bar and Grill still offers curbside pick-up of takeout orders. The money generated from this and the hotel goes toward supporting Bayside Housing, which houses individuals in need.

According to Leslie Shipley, development director for Bayside Housing, without revenue from the hotel, Bayside Housing needs support through donations and patronage of the Old Alcohol Plant’s take-out menu.

To learn more about Bayside Housing and how to help, go to 
baysidehousing.org

“Edible Landscape” Feeds Community

Patrick Ryland picks cabbage from the community garden at the Old Alcohol Plant. The garden goes to serve the restaurant at the hotel, but also the residents of Bayside Housing, a transitional housing service for individuals experiencing homelessness.

Patrick Ryland picks cabbage from the community garden at the Old Alcohol Plant. The garden goes to serve the restaurant at the hotel, but also the residents of Bayside Housing, a transitional housing service for individuals experiencing homelessness.PHOTO COURTESY KIRA MARDIKES

Posted Wednesday, April 15, 2020 3:00 am Lily Haight
lhaight@ptleader.com

Under the spring sun, shoots of green are beginning to pop up from dark soil.

At the Old Alcohol Plant Hotel in Port Hadlock, an edible landscape is coming to life.

Rows of flowers are beginning to grow and herbs are beginning to reach toward the sky, with the blue bay sparkling in the background. But it is also nutritious: lettuce, kale and radishes are coming up in terraced veggie gardens that overlook the bay, while fruit trees and berry bushes are blooming with the promise of sweetness in the future.

Local farmers Kira Mardikes and Patrick Ryland work the land in this garden, but they hope in the future to forge a community of people working the land together to benefit from the fruits and vegetables.

Mardikes and Ryland started farming together at Finnriver Farm. But in 2018, they met Gary and Susan Keister, owners of the Old Alcohol Plant and founders of Bayside Housing, who proposed the vision of an edible landscape on the property,  one that provides food as well as being beautiful. 

The food Mardikes and Ryland grow now goes to the Old Alcohol Plant’s kitchens, where it is made into dishes served at Spirits Bar and Grill. 

But produce also goes to residents of Bayside Housing, a transitional housing service at the hotel for those who are homeless.

Bayside is a grass-roots organization that developed in tandem with the Old Alcohol Plant Hotel in Port Hadlock. The restoration of the Old Alcohol Plant allowed for the creation of the non-profit, which receives funding from revenue generated by the hotel. As a result, 17 rooms in the hotel are available as transitional housing for homeless individuals and families.

Since opening in April 2016, Bayside has provided shelter to more than 80 people and transitioned 50 of those into more permanent housing situations. The hotel also provides job opportunities for people experiencing homelessness.

The community garden developed alongside the non-profit to provide produce for residents of Bayside, who might not have a steady income or be able to afford organically grown fresh fruits and vegetables.

“We also encourage residents to harvest food themselves,” Mardikes said. “Kale and raspberries are the most popular crops.” 

“It’s really fun to connect with residents who want to spend time in the garden.”

To create an edible landscape, Mardikes and Ryland have turned every inch of the property into a garden. There are lettuce patches and annual vegetables interspersed with herbs, orchard fruit, berry bushes and edible vines such as hops and goji berries. They also grow flowers throughout the garden.

The landscape not only provides nutrition and physical health for residents, but also joy, beauty and mental health.

“I think it’s something that a lot of people can feel subconsciously when they step on the property,” Ryland said. “We have a strong philosophy of building soil and the health of the soil. It permeates the whole experience of the place.”

The appreciation of a beautiful garden will come out in different ways, Mardikes said. 

“People will focus on certain expressions of it, like expressing awe over a 13-foot sunflower,” she said. “Things are alive here. Things are thriving here.”

Before the governor’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order went into place, Mardikes and Ryland were planning to work with Bayside Housing to open the garden up as a community space with volunteers working the land and in return receiving fresh fruits and vegetables.

They still plan to do this, but have put the plan on hold until the order is lifted.

“We want to open it up to anyone feeling like they need to get their hands in the dirt,” Mardikes said. “Especially right now, socially distanced common gardening is an activity people can do and still stay healthy.”

For now though, the two are generating interest from community members who might want to be involved in the future, as well as continuing to grow food for the Old Alcohol Plant, Bayside residents and local food banks.

While the governor’s order is in place, the hotel is closed to guests, but Spirits Bar and Grill still offers curbside pick-up of takeout orders. The money generated from this and the hotel goes toward supporting Bayside Housing, which houses individuals in need.

According to Leslie Shipley, development director for Bayside Housing, without revenue from the hotel, Bayside Housing needs support through donations and patronage of the Old Alcohol Plant’s take-out menu.

To learn more about Bayside Housing and how to help, go to 
baysidehousing.org

Growing “Food Security “

This is an article focusing on the Quimper Grange Food Bank Garden located in Port Townsend, WA. It was published by the Port Townsend Leader.

Click here to go to The Leader’s page.

Growing ‘food security’

Growing 'food security'

Growing ‘food security’

Behind the historic Quimper Grange hall grows a garden that supplies thousands of pounds of organic fruits and vegetables to the Port Townsend Food Bank.

“The garden is one of the things that we are contributing to the community,” said Maria Streator, president of Quimper Grange.

In 2014, the Grange signed a memorandum of understanding with Food Bank Farm and Gardens (FBFG) of Jefferson County Inc. to allow use of the garden space indefinitely. FBFG received its 501(c) (3) nonprofit status in May 2015.

That year, volunteer gardeners grew and gave away about 3,000 pounds of food, said secretary/treasurer Emily Stewart.

Stewart moved to Port Townsend two years ago from Chicago, where she had helped coordinate a community garden. “I was looking for a project,” she said. She didn’t have a job her first summer here, and helped out at the Grange garden almost every day.

“She’s quick and efficient, and young!” said Jo Yount, no slouch herself in the food bank garden. Yount also serves as vice president of the nonprofit, which also manages food bank gardens at Mountain View Commons and at Port Townsend High School; its president is Lys Burden.

FGFB has a core group of about five gardeners, plus about 100 volunteers, including students from Port Townsend High School and people from United Good Neighbors and Gray Wolf Ranch.

And the gardens are growing, literally; especially the Grange garden, set to receive a second hoop-house greenhouse in May, expanding possibilities for year-round production.

The garden supplies the food bank with collard greens, chard, broccoli, herbs (such as basil, rosemary, sage and chives), rhubarb, strawberries, raspberries, several kinds of beans, peas, beets, kale, carrots, radishes, fennel and various lettuces. It doesn’t supply onions or potatoes, which the food bank gets at low cost in large quantities from elsewhere, Stewart said.

The PT Food Bank is located at Mountain View Commons, 1910 Blaine St., and is open on Wednesdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and Saturdays (seniors 55 and older only) from noon to 2 p.m.

SMALL FARM

At the height of growing season last summer, the Grange garden supplied about 125 pounds of produce twice a week.

“It’s basically a small working farm,” said Kathy Ryan, an at-large FBFG member and an experienced farmer. “This is a sizable contribution toward food security in the area.” She added that food bank president Shirley Moss takes care to provide organic vegetables to people who want or need them.

And it makes the farmers feel good.

“If you want to have a good day, just drop stuff off at the food bank,” Stewart said.

Another benefit of volunteering at the Grange garden is free produce, as well as the pleasures of gardening.

“It helps you feel really grounded,” Ryan punned.

“It’s very casually run here,” Stewart said. “We have fun. It’s a relaxing pastime.”

The grounded gardeners harvest either on Tuesday and Friday evenings, or in the mornings on food bank days. That entails gathering, washing and then packaging the produce in bags or boxes.

The new hoop house should arrive in May, and they’re also building a new washing table for produce. Totes filled with rainwater are to be replaced with a long washing table equipped with an outdoor utility sink.

Yount, Ryan and Stewart are also glad to have a new deer fence protecting the Grange’s food bank garden.

“We’ve had an awful problem with deer,” Ryan said, as she stood surrounded by succulent lettuces.

Stephen Cade, a professional landscaper and food bank volunteer, donated his time to build the new fence around the 7,000-square-foot garden. There is also about 1,000 feet of space outside the fence for storage and composting, Yount said.

A new beehive is also on its way to the Grange garden, thanks to Karen Kastel, who is also the FBFG gleaning coordinator.

GLEANING, TOO

“Gleaning has expanded, which is part of the reason Lys [Burden] is reorganizing [the garden at] Mountain View Commons,” Ryan said. There are plans to turn that garden into a “you-pick” garden; part of it is also worked by kids from the YMCA who are growing their own snacks. Stewart noted that at peak productivity, items such as peas and blueberries are time-consuming to harvest.

Gleaning is the gathering of leftover or extra produce after a harvest; for example, when fruit ripens all at once, gleaners gather and distribute those apples, plums and pears that would otherwise fall unused from local trees. If you have a fruit tree that produces more fruit than you can use, contact Kastel at hahgleaningjc@gmail.com or 531-2536. She also gathers leftover food from Fort Worden’s food services for distribution, helping package, for example, leftover soup that would otherwise go to waste.

To voluneer

The Grange garden is a relaxing, pleasant place to be. Volunteers of all ages, experience and skill levels are welcome. Those interested can call …

360-531-2536 or 517-231-1332, or email ptfoodbankgarden@gmail.com.

“This is a sizable contribution to food security in the area.”

Kathy Ryan member Food Bank Farm and Gardens

June 2020 Newsletter



Happy June to all Food Bank Farm and Gardens Volunteers and Community Members!

Thank you again for all of your support through the month! Our newest garden, RainCoast, just donated its first harvest to the Tri-Area Food Bank! A big thank you to all of the volunteers who have worked hard to restore the garden beds. Your work has paid off beautifully!

I would like to take this opportunity to alert the volunteers that the Volunteer Coordinator, Rachel Smith, is currently taking a highly intensive Permaculture Course. It is Monday through Friday course, eight hours a day. She will still be performing her normal duties of responding to volunteer inquires via the Food Bank Farm and Gardens email, but she will be less responsive during the next few months. Thank you for your patience with this. She is hoping to bring Permaculture ethics to her work with the Food Bank Farm and Gardens when her class is done.

Thanks all and be well!



RainCoast: Social distancing while enjoying the fruits (and veggies) of our labors while restoring this newest of our FoodBank Gardens.

Interested in volunteering??
Want to learn how to grow vegetables??
Become a contributing member of your community!!
Volunteer with us!
We have many opportunities available for you to help with.
Volunteer Now!
Also, if you are interested in a weekly gardening gig, click the button below and let our volunteer coordinator, Rachel, know what your particular situation is and she can get you set up with in a garden that works with your schedule. Volunteer Now!

JUNE VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES –  
Volunteer Now!

Swan Farms
Every Tuesday from 10-2! Located behind the Thrift Store  at 10632 Rhody Drive in Port Hadlock. Right across the street from Carl’s Building Supply.

RainCoast

A brand new Food Bank Garden generously donated to the organization by RainCoast Farms! Will meet every Thursday from 10-2. Located at 12224 Airport Cutoff Road. Super close to the San Juan Taqueria by the Airport.

Birchyville

Meets every Tuesday and Friday from 10-12. We are currently expanding this garden to increase production for the upcoming season! Weekly weeders are especially needed. Located down the street from Mt. Townsend Creamery, gardener parking is at the dead end of Sherman Street.

Port Townsend High School
Every Friday from 10-1. This is an incredibly productive and beautiful garden that is always growing and changing. Located on Benton Street, behind the Port Townsend School District building.

 Volunteer Now!



VOLUNTEERS NEEDED … IN THE FOOD BANKS

The Food Bank Farm and Gardens have a HUGE need for volunteers in the food banks themselves, particularly at the Tri-Area, Quilcene and Brinnon Food Banks.
We have a huge reporting problem. The Food Banks themselves do not have the infrastructure in place to accurately track produce donations as they are received at the food banks. Accurate tracking would ensure that the Food Bank Farm and Gardens has more accurate data with which to pursue grants and funding opportunities. By tracking the produce donated, you would directly be contributing to the continued planning and growth of the Food Bank Farm and Gardens. In addition, you would be supporting the increased food security of your fellow community members.
If interested, please click the Volunteer Now button below.

 Volunteer Now

Please be aware that the safety of our volunteers is of paramount importance!! During the Covid-19 outbreak, please bring your own tools to volunteer parties, wear a mask (we do have a limited supply to provide), and comply by adhering to social distancing guidelines. Thanks all!

Our newest garden in need of TLC


A new garden has been donated to the Food Bank Farms!! The property is owned by a local Port Townsend resident. His wife was the main caretaker of the raised beds until her passing several years ago. Since then, the 500 sq ft garden has become overgrown with weeds and wildflowers. After one work party, most of the beds have been cleared. Stay tuned for more volunteer opportunities to prep the beds for planting!


The Port Townsend High School Garden

The High School garden all cleaned up and beautiful! Students, volunteers and Zach all deserve a congratulatory “high five”!

Seasonal Recipe
Flowers and herbs are in full swing!
Here is an amazing way to make salad that fully optimizes on edible flowers and herbs in the garden.

The proportions of your salad should be:
1/3 salad greens
1/3 herbs
1/3 flowers
Sounds rather outlandish, right? But believe you me … it works!
All salad greens and herbs should be minced.
Get creative with it!
Mix the types of salad greens!
Throw in rosemary, mint, oregano, cilantro together!
When all the herbs and salad greens are minced, it disperses the intense flavors of the herbs equally throughout the salad, creating an explosion of flavor in every bite.
Add some shredded carrots, turnips or radishes!
Once mixed thoroughly, sprinkle flower petals on top to add a beautiful pop of color.
Dress with a light vinaigrette.
I promise you, this salad is a game changer.

June Gardening
Now is a good time to plant your winter squash. Intersperse a broadcast lettuce green mix throughout your squash bed. This will ensure that your soil is producing food and shading the soil until the squash leaves grow large enough.

If you have orchard trees, this is the time to weed around the trunks, put some cardboard down, and give them a healthy dose of mulch. The water retention will help them so much in the dry months ahead.

When adding compost to a bed, make sure that you water the soil itself extensively. The bacteria in the compost needs help getting deeper into the soil. If left at the top, the beneficial bacteria will just get baked in the sun.

Hot Tip
Sick of weeding yet?? Well … here’s another way!
Limit the weeds that you do pull to grasses, poisonous plants, sticker-bushes and weeds with long tap-roots.
By leaving the easy-to-pull weeds, you are essentially creating a living mulch layer that doesn’t compete too aggressively with your vegetables, and they fill the space that would be taken over by more aggressive weeds. This simple system will cut down on your weeding time extensively!!

Copyright © *|2020|* *|Food Bank Farm and Gardens of Jefferson County|*, All rights reserved.
You are receiving this email because you believe in access to fresh food and have volunteered for our organization.

Our email address is:
foodbankfarmandgardensjc@gmail.com

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May 2020 Newsletter


Greetings volunteers and community members!
Happy May Food Bank Farm and Gardens volunteers!

I want to take a moment to thank you all for the incredible support you have all shown the Food Bank Farm and Gardens through this time of global crisis. I know a lot of people are hurting, and it is wonderful to see so much interest and commitment to the Gardens. 

So much has happened this month! 

First of all, we will be starting up work again on the highly productive Port Townsend High School gardens which experienced a small hiatus over the winter. See below for information regarding the first work party of the season!

Huge progress has been made at RainCoast Farms. A group of seven (or so) volunteers shows up every Thursday to prep that garden beds for planting. 

SunField Farms will be planting soon for winter storage crops. Email the Volunteer Coordinator if you have any interest in volunteering.

If you know of anyone who is food insecure, make sure to tell them about Just Soup. It is located at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Port Townsend every Tuesday from 1130-130. Free curbside soup delivery, including a fruit item, a protein bar, bread and spoon for anyone who shows up. 

Also, the Port Townsend Leader wrote a fantastic article about us that has gotten the word out. Already, numerous people have contacted us interested in volunteering due to this article. If you haven’t had a chance yet to read it, here is a link:

https://www.ptleader.com/stories/fresh-from-the-garden-to-the-food-bank,69027

And lastly, follow us on our new Instagram account @jcfoodbankfarms

Thanks all and be well!Interested in volunteering?? Want to learn how to grow vegetables?? And become a contributing member of your community?? Volunteer with us! We have so many opportunities available to you. Also, if you are interested in a weekly gardening gig, click the button below and let our volunteer coordinator, Rachel, know what your needs are, and she can get you set up with a garden that works with your schedule.

MAY VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES
Swan Farms
Every Tuesday from 10-2! Located behind the Thrift Store  at 10632 Rhody Drive in Port Hadlock. Right across the street from Carl’s Building Supply.
RainCoast

A brand new Food Bank Garden generously donated to the organization by RainCoast Farms! Will meet every Thursday from 10-2. Located at 12224 Airport Cutoff Road. Super close to the San Juan Taqueria by the Airport.
Birchyvill
e
Meets every Friday from 10-12. We are currently expanding this garden to increase production for the upcoming season! Located down the street from Mt. Townsend Creamery, gardener parking is at the dead end of Sherman Street.
Volunteer Now!



WORK PARTY AT PORT TOWNSEND HIGH SCHOOL GARDENS

Saturday, May 30th from 10-1. The High School Gardens need your help!! The gardens are usually cared for by high school students, but as school has been cancelled for the rest of the year due to the Covid-19 outbreak, the garden has gotten out of control!! Join us later this month to get the garden back on track! The garden is hugely important and donated almost 500 lbs of produce to the food bank last year! Bring your own tools and a mask. Again, put May 30th on your calendar! Click below to let the Volunteer Coordinator know you are interested!Volunteer NowPlease be aware that the safety of our volunteers is of paramount importance!! During the Covid-19 outbreak, please bring your own tools to volunteer parties, wear a mask if you have one, and comply by social distancing guidelines. The pictures below are various examples of how we have been complying by safety standards while working and harvesting. Thanks all!




Upper left to right: Jo Yount, garden manager for the Quimper Grange, harvesting using a face mask and gloves. Alexa MaCaulay, garden manager of Farm’s Reach. Lower left to right: Mary Hunt planting chard and kale at RainCoast. Kellen Lynch wrestling a cedar root with face mask. 


HARVESTS


Top left to right: Cauliflower from Swan Farms. Rhubarb, kale and herbs from Birchyville. Bottom Left to Right: Spinach from Farm’s Reach. Salad mixes from the Quimper Grange.




Trying to grow Raspberries?
The Quimper Grange just installed a magnificent new raspberry trellis system that will support the plants as well as make it easier to harvest. Built by our own highly regarded and skilled volunteer, Steven Cade, it will last for years! You might want to replicate this at home or better yet … call us to get Steven’s contact information.

Seasonal Recipe & May Gardening

Rhubarb is here!!! Finally!
After a long winter and spring without fresh fruits, rhubarb gets a hero’s welcome.
This recipe is an old family recipe of Jo Yount, the garden manager of the Quimper Grange. 

5 cups chopped rhubarb
1 cup drained, crushed pineapple
4 cups sugar OR 2 cups honey
1 package dry strawberry jello

1. Mix the first three ingredients, let stand for 30 minutes.
2. Bring slowly to a boil, stirring CONSTANTLY. Cook for 12 minutes.
3. Remove from stove.
4. Add jello, mix until completely dissolved.
5. Put into sterilized jars and seal. 

 Having problems with a mystery pest?
Go out at night with a flashlight and surprise them. That way you’ll be able to discover what is eating your veggies and how to deal with it.

Transplant tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and eggplants.
Mulch with hay to retain soil warmth and moisture for the coming dry season.

Set up your slug traps before they take over everything!

If you are hoping to grow corn, a good trick is to pre-sprout the seeds before direct sowing in the garden.

Hot Tip
Do you have any leftover kale from last year’s crop?
Instead of ripping it up and composting it, let it go to seed. The bees love the flowers and will flock to your garden!