Daily Archives: May 1, 2009

Community gardens bloom on Bainbridge

Dawn Snider digs in at the Johnson Farm community garden
Dawn Snider digs in at the Johnson Farm community garden

Below is a sneak peak of my story about Bainbridge Island’s community garden boom. Check the Sun on Monday for some additional photos and information….

Dawn Snider is hoping to deepen the shade of her faded green thumb.

It’s been almost three decades since she’s had a garden, but she can still remember the taste of backyard tomatoes, squash and herbs.

“It’s been a while, but I’m a gardener at heart,” the Minnesota native said as she and her partner Bruce White spread a load of rich, black soil into a small plot at the Johnson Farm community garden.

After a long stint living in the high desert of New Mexico, Snider and White recently moved to Bainbridge looking for an oasis of green.

The only problem was that their small patch of Bainbridge was crowded by concrete.

“We’re living in a townhouse in Winslow, with no yard and no room to garden,” she said.

Snider and White were ready to be caught up in a sudden burst of grassroots organizing to create community gardens on Bainbridge. Over the last few months, neighborhood and small-group gardens have taken shape on city-owned farmland, a low-income apartment complex and a half dozen private properties.

A gathering on March 2 provided the spark. Organized by a loose coalition of gardening groups and local food enthusiasts, the meeting didn’t have a specific aim, but it packed Bainbridge Commons with over 110 people.

“I was totally blown away by the response,” said Debbi Lester, one of the meeting’s organizers. Before meeting ended, attendees had already begun networking, assigning tasks and setting work dates for several of the gardens now underway.

The meeting, Lester said, tapped into a zeitgeist born out of souring economy, an increasingly urbanized downtown and a growing desire to eat healthy, locally-grown food.

Nationwide, more people are planting seeds for better food and bigger savings. The National Gardening Association reports that over 40 million American households will grow their own food this year. That’s a nearly 20 percent increase over last year.

Straddling the fence between suburban and rural, the island has plenty of spacious properties boasting sizable gardens. But many of the island’s most recent residents came to Bainbridge amid the condo boom of 2005 and 2006, when 330 units were built in Winslow.

With no space to enjoy one of the island’s most popular pastimes, condo dwellers were disappointed to find that the only two community gardens were either hard to get to or hard to get into; the garden at Battle Point Park is five miles from Winlsow and the downtown garden at Eagle Harbor Congregational Church often has a three-year wait list.

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