Earthkeeping – Orchard Gardens

Holy Cross Lutheran Church

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“Orchard Gardens Cooks” – cookbook by our gardeners

CookbookOrchard Gardens has published a cookbook!  Thanks to Sharon and Nicole, dedicated gardeners, we have assembled a complete set of recipes from our garden clan.  We have tried to incorporate recipes which include vegetables from the garden.  Kale, beets, squash, and even quince have found a place in our cookbook.  I can’t wait to try the “Basil and Onion Mashed Potato” recipe by Jan.

The books are $10 and 100% of the proceeds go to the Backpack Meals for Kids program here in Bellevue.  Backpack Meals provides a bag of food to kids who would otherwise go hungry on the weekends.  You can look at their website, Backpack Meals for Kids, to get more information.  Backpack Meals was started by one of our gardeners who wanted take action to help kids in Bellevue.  The $10 from the sale of one book will fill a backpack for one student! A student who will surely appreciate it.

You can purchase the book online at Create Space.


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Spring News in the Garden

–By Ingrid Turner

We had the opening of our garden on March 14th, 2015.  Gardeners met and went over the rules of the garden and we talked about what we hoped for the year.  But even before and after that, there was a lot going on!

Here’s a run down –
February 14th – we battled the blackberries.  An unusually warm February meant it was a nice day to work outside.

March 7th – Jay brought his dump truck and delivered 8 cubic yards of compost to the garden.  We also took a load of odds and ends to the dump.  Gardeners were busy spreading their compost.

March 14th – Gardener’s meeting

March 21 – Gardener’s retreat to Jan’s condo downtown Seattle.  We spent several hours going over what we wanted for the future of the garden and what we needed to work on next.  We had a good group with 8 gardeners and supporters in attendance.  We finished up with a walk to the Sculpture Park.

March 28 – Again, we battled the blackberries.  There is a corner of the orchard and garden that is quite overgrown with blackberries.  They are invasive, so each year they have advanced a little bit.  We are trying to cut them back and realized that we will have extra land to work with when we are done!  Who-hoo!  We are already thinking of what we can plant there – more fruit trees?  Edible landscaping?  Many thanks to Grace Stiller with Newcastle Weed Warriors for helping us with this huge task.  At our second work party we were definitely starting to see progress.   More work parties will be scheduled.  Grace’s group has a website: and don’t miss the Earthday celebration that they sponsor on April 18th!


Janet and Dave discuss the day's work at the retreat on March 21st.

Janet and Dave discuss the day’s work at the retreat on March 21st.

Gardeners enjoy a view of downtown Seattle after our retreat.

Gardeners enjoy a view of downtown Seattle after our retreat.

Jan battles blackberries with her loppers

Jan battles blackberries with her loppers

Ethan enjoyed the nice spring day while helping us battle the blackberries.

Ethan enjoyed the nice spring day while helping us battle the blackberries.

Grace Stiller of Newcastle Weed Warriors.  She's the best!

Grace Stiller of Newcastle Weed Warriors. She’s the best!

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Apple Picking Success!

We had a wonderful apple picking and cider making event on Sept 27th.  At 10:30 a.m. approximately 50 Girl Scouts along with leaders and parents gathered for a special Girl Scout event.  The girls enjoyed learning about the orchard, picking apples and seeing how cider was made.  For one troop, this was their first outing together as Girl Scouts.  For other girls, it was the first time they had climbed a ladder or picked an apple.

Our event opened to the public at noon, as many members of the public joined us for some old fashioned fun.  The weather cooperated, and it was a beautiful day to be outside enjoying the orchard.  We sold herbs and vegetables from the p-patch, pickles, and Jamie sold her yummy pastries.  Much of the money collected went to the hungry.

Some interesting statistics:

$350 collected from sale of garden and pastry goodies for backpack meals
6 boxes of food collected for backpack meals
100 lbs collected for hopelink
150- 200 people attended including nearly 50 Girl Scouts


Apple picking - fun for the whole family

Apple picking – fun for the whole family

Wonderful pastries for sale

Wonderful pastries for sale

The apple press which turned out gallons of great ciderThe apple press which turned out gallons of great cider


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Straw Bale Garden

Our straw bale garden is doing really well. After a month of “conditioning”, I dug some holes in the top and added potting soil. I then planted some petunias and nasturtiums. The result is fantastic! We placed the straw bale along a building, under the eves, where nothing much would grow. I water it a couple of times a week and occasionally add a high nitrogen fertilizer. Beautiful!


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Updates Around the Garden

Did you know that Marty Jackson (Linda) recently won a prize at the Mercer Island Visual Arts Miniature art display in April? He created elegant small boxes. Also, Farida, an Orchard Gardens friend, displayed several works of art at MIVA also. She paints lovely flowers and hummingbirds.

We had a blessing of our P-patch Sunday by Pastor Gary Dalenius. Thanks to Rahmat, Rostom,Cyd, for your for your presence on this cold blustery spring day. Each gardener is an amazing blessing.

One of our gardeners, Nicole, recently ran the Boston Marathon! Way to go, girl!

There are so many interesting things taking place in the garden including little fences and barriers. The p-patch is a little laboratory,a great place to learn what is effective against our little pesties.

Lots of lovely little rows of green are appearing in the garden!
Several gardeners have done wonderful things in the herb garden. It is absolutely gorgeous. A little infection in our kiwi, think it was Edna, has been treated quickly and effectively. Thanks to Linda for taking on this effort.

This last weekend, May 17th, a team of Stanford Alumni and families, gathered to work in the orchard. Cardboard and compost was put down around the base of 24 trees, which will help enrich the soil, and keep down the grass around the trees.

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Cider Making Event

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On October 5, 2013 the skies opened up blue and warm and the community gathered for an apple event. Girl Scouts picked apples, washed apples, cut apples, pressed apples and enjoyed the cider in a variety of jugs they had brought. Other community members brought kids, friends and family and about 100 folks got into the mix of picking, washing, cutting, pressing and heating the apple cider. All in all, about 1000 pounds of apples were washed, cut, pressed and pasteurized.

We figure there may have been 50-60 gallons of cider made for the 100 folks who came out. Many, many happy faces throughout the day to enjoy the delicious taste of fresh apple cider! A few P-Patchers from Orchard Gardens had brought home made goods to sell as a fundraiser for the work of an Eagle Scout-to-be to expand our growing capacity on the Holy Cross campus.

Thanks to the City of Bellevue for the beautiful banner and flyers and to Charlie’s product for augmenting what our orchard could produce to make sure there were plenty of apples for all. Thanks to the community for bringing about 80 lbs. of nonperishable food for Hopelink food bank and contributing about $60 to the Food Backpack Program for hungry kids.

Be sure to block out the first Saturday of October 2014 when we do it all again!

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Apple Picking

Apple Picking

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Holy Cross Featured in Bellevue Reporter Article

Check out this new article on Holy Cross Church – featuring Linda, Rahmet and Jan Starr!

A great write-up on our efforts and some nice pictures of the p-patch.

A great write-up on our efforts and some nice pictures of the p-patch.