Polish your work boots and shine up your trowel for another season with the Community Organic Gardens of Sequim.
As the city becomes its sunny self again, two gardens are opening up for a chance to take on the green thumb side of life.
The Fir Street Garden, behind St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, and the City of Sequim’s June Robinson Memorial Park garden, at the corner of Spruce Street and Sunnyside Avenue, are accepting applicants on a first-come, first-served basis for ground plots and raised beds.
Since its inception six years ago, gardeners at the Fir Street Garden feel it’s meeting what they set out to do.
“We wanted to create a focal point for the community,” said long-time supporter Bob Caldwell. “I think we’ve done that.”
The garden group brings a variety of gardeners from elementary school children to retirees in their 80s.
Entering her third year as a gardener, Natasha Yeary lives in Port Angeles but works in Sequim and gardens here, too.
“I’ve gotten a close connection to the community and made some close friends that I wouldn’t have met otherwise without the garden,” Yeary said.
She brings her 6-year-old and 8-year-old sons to help and is planning to get them a plot of their own to grow beans, corn and squash. Among the three of them they will lead planting and nurturing a plot specifically for food to go to Sequim Food Bank.
“I feel healthier doing this,” Yeary said. “By going outdoors to work I encourage that with my boys. I also feel accomplishment by bringing something to fruition.”
Gardeners of all experience levels sign up for a variety of reasons like Jami Primrose who started with the Fir Street Garden in its first year because she initially didn’t have space at home to grow her own garden.
“I moved and have the space at home now but I like to be at the community garden,” she said. “I enjoy how the community interacts with the garden. I get to meet experienced gardeners who come check in to see how other gardens are doing.”
Liz Harper, board president of the community gardens, said she comes not for a lack of space but due to deer eating her plants.
“Some people have a lot of shade and can’t grow anything at home and some have no experience but they gain it from our classes,” Harper said. “Some want to grow food for their health, socialize and some want to trade produce.”
For at least five years, the Fir Street Garden will remain in place.
Harper said they signed a five-year lease with St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, which owns the property.
The City of Sequim remains committed to supporting June Robinson Memorial Garden going into its fourth year, too.
“We have a good partnership with city,” Harper said. “They are very generous in sharing resources.”
Caldwell said before starting the garden, one of their biggest fears was the ground being hard, as an old rocky pasture.
“But it turned out to not be a problem at all,” he said.
Harper said the rocks are gone and the grounds almost spongy from the care that’s gone into it.
While the groups of gardeners focus on their own plots, they also work together on a variety of others, such as the food banks, and in shared herbs, flowers, squash and greens.
“If you try to plant squash, it takes up a whole plot but 10 (feet) by 10 (feet) is enough for everyone,” Harper said.
If year-round gardening is your thing, Primrose said gardeners are expanding outside of the typical growing season to grow winter vegetables, too.
But if you like the warm summer sun on you, Primrose sympathizes.
“Gardening is solitary,” she said. “It’s a nice thing to do in summer and hang out with friends and drink lemonade.”
Gardening guru Pam Larsen continues her annual gardening classes starting on March 9. Those who sign up for a plot for the first time receive classes for free with a fee applying to those who want to garden at home.
Some of her classes involve discussions on using organic pesticides, commercial fertilizers and what she calls “growing with Mother Nature” without those types of resources.
Plot fees include water, seeds and composting. In the past, Lazy J Tree Farm and McComb Gardens have provided organic compost and the Co-Op Farm and Garden Center provided organic fertilizers.
The Fir Street Garden also is looking for a gas-run shredder or donations to purchase one with donations tax-deductible under the North Olympic Land Trust. Call Harper at 683-7698 for more information.