(Blogger’s note: Please welcome our guest writer, Kimberly De La Cruz, a Bremerton native and journalism student at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Kimberly’s aunt, Karole Johnson, has started a new garden program at Lulu Haddon Park. Here’s Kimberly with the details.)
Seeds of Grace volunteers rally together with great camaraderie to achieve one common goal: to teach and provide agricultural sustainability in a global capacity.
Since March 2014, Seeds of Grace has played a dynamic role in introducing sustainable gardens to impoverished areas, like Mazatlan, Mexico. Now, the focus has shifted back home.
Karole Johnson, Team Lead of Seeds of Grace and Bremerton native, secured support from over 30 volunteers and donors, who provided manpower, in-kind donations and monetary backing for the “Lulu D. Haddon Park Garden Project,” which was completed on June 14, 2014.
The garden is nestled in a secured area of the park, where its strawberries, kale, hot peppers, tomatoes, carrots, onions, salad greens, beets and other offerings can flourish to their full potential.
Once harvested, the fruits and vegetables will be donated to Bremerton Foodline to be served at the tables of those who are in need across the community.
The spring harvest is expected to begin in July, and will make room for winter crops, like squash and Brussels sprouts. Johnson anticipates that more than 600 pounds of food will be donated over the first year of the partnership.
The lack of fresh produce on food bank shelves is a problem that is widespread, but Johnson says, “partnership is the key, as well as setting people up for success and teaching the importance of sustainability, both globally and locally.”
The Seeds of Grace program does not stop at growing food to be donated; it also educates community members on how to maintain the garden, so that it can be a lasting source of nourishment. Johnson says the project’s long-term effects are “bigger than we know.”
Unlike typical community gardens, the crops do not get divided by plots among community members. Instead, all of the food that is harvested is done so by volunteers who choose to serve their neighbors, then the food is given to a place that feeds the hungry.
Seeds of Grace is now setting its sights on future projects, such as building additional gardens within other Bremerton parks, introducing a curriculum into schools to teach children the importance of sustainability and its return trip to Mazatlan in the fall.
“When your motivation is to help others and to love others, just do it. People are going to be inspired by that,” says Johnson.
It costs between $500 and $1,200 to build a sustainable garden locally, and international gardens start $12,000.
There will be a ribbon cutting ceremony at the Lulu D. Haddon Park garden with Mayor Patty Lent in attendance, at 3:30 p.m. July 24.