Sunday, December 1, 2013

Gardeners with Grateful Hearts...

An amazing thing has happened in our IslandWood greenhouse! Where we once had rotting garden boxes that were leaking soil and water, we now have lovely and strong NEW garden boxes. We also have a new irrigation system, and a freshly cleaned and organized space. With the help of our overnight students, we even have newly planted indoor winter crops. The greenhouse has been transformed! And it will host many children this season as we move into Winter garden lessons.

As we look around at our renovated greenhouse, Jen and I have full, grateful hearts. It took many people volunteering their time, talents and financial support, to turn our dreams into a reality. We are so thankful for our community!

To get started on this project, we needed financial support.  This came to us in the form of a generous grant from The Lieter Family Foundation. Their grant enabled us to repair our greenhouse beds, design and install a reliable irrigation system, purchase grow lights, and improve our educational signage. Without this grant money, we wouldn't have been able to even start our project.

We spent many hours considering what type of material to use for our garden boxes. We needed a material which would be both long-lasting and safe for growing food.  We settled on cedar, knowing that we could be 100% certain of its safety, and that it would last a reasonably long time.  David Kotz of Coyote Woodshop on Bainbridge Island generously discounted some beautiful cedar to use for our greenhouse box material.  The cedar is a full two inches thick, and we have some beds which are twelve inches deep and some which are eight.  These will be really healthy spaces to grow vegetables in all year 'round, and should last for many, many years.

And finally, in order to make repairs we needed volunteers!
Rebecca and Patricio-- two IslandWood Graduates who work in the garden

Jessica and I--another one of our "grads" who happens to also be a 'builder extraordinaire'

Brian--Lead builder and volunteer (also my husband!)
Without the dedication of both time and talent by our volunteers, we would not have these beautiful new garden boxes. And Jen, who was both building and cleaning, also helped keep our volunteers going by providing delicious homemade snacks and plenty of water. It was a fun day! Seeing a project come together--especially a community project--is always inspiring.

We now have lush, new crops growing in our greenhouse which will help us continue to offer tastes of fresh food to our students throughout the winter.  Just in time too, as our outside garden beds are going dormant in the cold weather.  And with the addition of our new light box, we'll be able to do some fun science experiments with our students about the affects of light on plants.

Beautiful young lettuces
Kale growing with vigor

We are so excited about the teaching possibilities we have with our improved greenhouse, and the ability to truly grow food year 'round.  We have many lessons to teach and as every gardener knows, having the right tool for the job makes all the difference.  We enter into these dark, winter days with a lightness of spirit. So it is with full hearts that Jen and I say THANK YOU!!