It took a village… to create Chase Lake Elementary School’s community garden. The brainchild of Principal Sean Silver and Floretum member Beth Black. “The goal was about community-building at the school, getting kids to know about growing healthy food, and developing compassion for all living things. Not only did the kids learn to take care of their plants, but the vegetables went to families in need.”
Chase Lake’s garden grew like topsy: it started with a visit to Floretum, where Black gave a talk about building some raised beds for the school. Floretum members connected Black with Snohomish County Master Gardeners, who wrote a check for $1000 to pay for to pay for tools, gloves, seeds, and juniper from Dunn Lumber for the raised beds. A Floretum member recommended Black to Edmonds in Bloom, which sent the school a check for $1000. Whole Foods Kids Foundation chipped in $2000. Cedar Grove provided soil and compost.
And still it grew. On March 12th, 80 people showed up for a work party and built 14 raised beds. Dave Nelson from Edmonds Lutheran Church was an advisor and Black’s brother Jim, who had built homes for Habitat for Humanity, designed and built a prototype and two ADA-compatible beds.
A Lowe’s Toolbox For Education grant for $4000 was awarded in May, and Cedar Grove provided soil and compost; Zsofia Pasztor from Farmer Frog, along with Edmonds Rotary gave all kinds of support, including the services of Urban Farmer Jessica Raav, who grew up in Edmonds; coffee drinkers at Red Twig gave personal donations. The League of Women Voters signed up to water every other day in July, then donated $100 in the fall and provided school supplies and backpacks for the party in August. Artist Mona Fairbanks gave the kids a lesson in creating plein air paintings of their garden.
And of course, Floretum chipped in, giving $500 to pay Master Gardener Meila Hampshire to take care of the garden for the summer. To see more photos, click here.
Black said it started as a school-wide project:
“Every single kid in the whole school got to plant something. Each classroom had its own bed. There was a bumble at the beginning when they started out using all compost. The 6th graders got a kit and took soil samples and figured out what was wrong. They dug out half the bed, replaced it with potting soil, got the Ph balanced, then replanted the plants. We bought kid-sized watering cans, because the big ones were too heavy for the kindergarteners, and the kids were responsible for watering the plants.
Floretum member Lilly McLellan donated scarlet runner bean seeds, and the younger kids are very excited. They are just harvesting the dried pods, and discovering that the seeds look exactly like what they planted!”
In September, the school took the teachers out to see how the garden had grown over the summer, and they were blown away.
The garden represents the Chase Lake motto in action: ‘Take care of yourself, take care of others, take care of this place.’
The garden has become more than just a school project. Parents, business partners and clubs are invested in the outcome; My Edmonds News did a feature; and Chase Lake families have come to work in the gardens and take home produce. A Welcome Back Dinner on the 22nd will feature Tuscan Vegetable Soup made with some ingredients from the garden.
Black is amazed by the outpouring of support. “It turned out to be more than what we expected; it turned out to be everything we hoped.”