A Ton of Food…After months of planning, removing sod, plowing and planting in the spring of 2010, Orchard Gardens community garden in South Bellevue was born. Every year since that first season, we have produced well over 1,000 pounds of fresh organic produce for Bellevue’s Hopelink food bank, in addition to plenty of produce for the 15 or so gardener’s own tables. We have dreamed of giving one TON. 2015 was the year we did. During this growing season, we brought 2,310 pounds of fruit and produce to Hopelink where it has been received with “Ooh’s” and “Ahh’s” and ‘Thank You’s.”
Many workers and partners helped make this happen. Holy Cross Lutheran Church donates part of its land for planting. A few staunch gardeners and people with passion for growing things work together to move this project forward. But without our community gardeners, we could not produce all the food. The fresh produce was donated by gardeners who planted an ‘extra row’ and shared a few extra pounds each week, the produce was packed in the trunk of a Honda sedan every Tuesday morning and delivered to Hopelink for the afternoon shoppers.
Many wonderful people make this happen. One amazing “Garden Godfather” is committed to growing for the purpose of sharing with local hungry families and he also shares his expertise with fellow gardeners. A Master Gardener oversees our composting as well as plants his own garden. We have gardeners who, together with family members, built a structure for climbing plants. A local Windermere office staff helped create a rose arbor. A volunteer group from Stanford wheelbarrowed compost around each of two dozen fruit trees and built a brick edge for the community herb garden. One gardener single handedly took on the project of creating a beautiful clean edge for the garden and was assisted on several Saturdays by local volunteer groups including one sponsored by the City of Bellevue.
We partnered with Lettuce Link of Solid Ground who gave us plant starts and seeds for Giving Gardens. Cedar Grove contributed 30 yards of compost for free and we have purchased many other yards of great Cedar Grove compost over the years to create healthy and productive soil. Local landscapers give us chips to make walking paths. We have a local “Bee Whisperer” who takes care of our Mason bees that pollinate the blossoms on the more than 25 heirloom apple, pear, plum and quince trees. One gardener cares for worms that create nutritious compost. Another experiments with new ideas such as hugelkultur planting. The Church of Steadfast Love from the Compass Center in Seattle helps us keep the fruit trees pruned and harvested. The Pomegranate Center of Issaquah partnered with us to build a shelter from the sun and rain for the gardeners. The list goes on and on. Thank you Orchard Gardens Community.
Each year new gardeners become part of this community and invest a nominal amount to rent a plot and support the work of this community garden. If you have an interest in joining a thriving community garden, contact Jan Starr, Orchard Gardens P-Patch Coordinator at 425-221-8544 or firstname.lastname@example.org.