Tag Archives: community gardens

Kitsap Sun tells Inslee to “stay out of our pea-patches”

The Kitsap Sun’s editorial board today told Congressman Jay Inslee to plant his community garden money somewhere else.

Inslee, as outlined in a previous post, wants to create a federal grant program to help establish and maintain community gardens.

The editorial board argues that community gardens are best left to communities.

“Simply put, community gardens are working well because they’re grass roots, and they’re a good idea.

More to the point, they’re a good idea Congress should leave alone.”

Read the full editorial here.

A community garden that doesn’t need the feds’ help

Ed Cannard picks raspberries at Eagle Harbor Congregational Church's community garden.
Ed Cannard picks raspberries at Eagle Harbor Congregational Church's community garden.
While working on a story about islander and congressman Jay Inslee’s proposed community garden grant program, I visited the 22 plots at Eagle Harbor Congregational Church.
After 21 years, it remains the only community garden in Winslow. It’s open to all – not just church congregants – but the long wait list is daunting.

I’ve seen few community gardens that are so well-kept and cared for. Whereas many community gardens have a few fallow plots and weeds creeping between raised beds, the church’s garden, with its many teak garden benches and stone ornaments, seemed bursting with healthy vegetables and flowers. There’s a reason community gardens aren’t always pretty. They’re practical places; not rose gardens. But the church’s garden seemed a combination of both: pleasing in its appearance and utilitarian in its purpose.

Much of the credit is due to the gardeners, who must sometimes wait up to three years for a plot. If you’re willing to cross your fingers that long, you’re not likely to squander the opportunity when you get it. Credit also goes to the garden’s volunteer keeper, Ed Cannard. He’s gardened there for almost all of its 21 years. As the garden’s manager, Cannard is tough. If you’re not taking care of your plot, you’re out fairly quickly and someone else on the long wait list is invited in.

Cannard said Inslee’s bill, which would provide up to 80 percent reimbursement for community garden development, wouldn’t help his garden much. Money, he said, isn’t what’s made Eagle Harbor church’s garden flourish for over two decades. It’s more about the people who volunteer their time to make it a success.

At the same time, though, Cannard sees demand for community gardens is sharply rising, and his small garden can’t come close to meeting local demand. While the Bainbridge park district has talked about possibly expanding their community garden offerings beyond the Battle Point Park patch, local nonprofits and private landowners have moved quickly in recent months to establish several gardens around the island. The new gardens are built largely with donated materials, donated land and volunteer labor.

And, judging by the 25 comments that have so far streamed in about Inslee’s bill, that’s the way it should be.

Most commenters on the online story see grant-funded community gardens as unnecessary and a waste of tax dollars during a time when the government is piling on debt.

Here’s a few comments posted to the online story:

“Another backwards Islander forcing socialism and fruitcake politics down our throats.”

“Which part of the constitution authorizes the federal government to fund vegetable gardens?”

“If you want an ‘alternative’ then that would be to shake the pockets of all those Doctors and Lawyers over there. A ‘community garden’ should be a privately or community funded…. as the name would suggest; ‘community.'”

“Mr Inslee, I hate to tell you but the country is broke from the bailouts. Obamanomics have failed and grants/handouts etc… cannot be afforded. Please start cutting social programs to payoff the debt.”

Inslee’s proposal is not without its backers. Here’s one commenter’s take:

“Americans can’t wait 3 years for the ‘Cannards’ of the world to provide a solution to what this country needs now…Thanks Jay Inslee for working for us. Thanks for supporting Victory Gardens.”

What do you think? Could Inslee’s proposal help meet Bainbridge’s demand for community gardens? And what about other communities that may not have the wide-spread support for community gardens or the deep pockets that have helped make them happen here. And the overall question: should the feds even be involved?

Senator Rockefeller’s community garden

State Sen. Phil Rockefeller has opened up a piece of his land for community garden use. His is the latest in a recent Bainbridge community garden boom.

In her most recent column, Kitsap Sun garden writer Ann Lovejoy highlights the Bainbridge Democrat and his wife Anita Rockefeller’s effort to link people to island-grown food and each other.

“Our idea was to create a place where people can not just put food on the table, but also connect to the natural world and to the community,” Anita said. “We hope we’ll all learn from each other, becoming better gardeners and finding common interests to share along with the vegetables.”

The Rockefellers brought in sandy loam and compost to make several garden-ready beds on a third of an acre at their Tolo Road property. Th fenced and watered garden includes almost 100 tomato plants to help keep Helpline House supplied through the summer.

Green thumbs of varying shades make up the seven families using the Rockefellers’ garden.

Lovejoy reports that plenty of space is open. To reserve a plot, call (206) 817-0456 or e-mail: chocrock@seanet.com.

Click here to read Lovejoy’s column, which also explores the overall growth of the island’s community gardens.

Also check out Sound Food’s map of Bainbridge community gardens here.