Planting strong roots in Sequim

In October, the Community Garden of Sequim was merely a seed planted in the hearts of the Sequim High School Ecology Club, Friends of the Fields and St. Luke's Episcopal Church.

But with hard work, planning and communitywide donations, what began as one woman's dream to help students save farmland is now an opportunity for people to grow vegetables, flowers and friendship on 10-foot by 10-foot and larger plots of land.

"It started with the kids," said Linda Dolan, Community Organic Garden of Sequim founder and Sequim High School Ecology Club staff advisor, during an October interview.

"They wanted to save farmland, but when they found out how much it costs to save farmland they decided to develop a community garden," she explained. "There is a natural connection between kids and gardens. It's about more than gardening - it's about integrating the community."

Even though the students decided against saving farmland, Friends of the Fields still wanted to be involved, said Bob Caldwell, Friends of the Fields treasurer, during a fall kickoff event. "If you can get people to start looking for fresh local foods, that can only help our gardeners and in effect, save farmland."

The garden, located at 525 N. Fifth Ave., is an approximately 75-foot by 150-foot field south of the playground. Twenty-two plots, including five raised beds for people with disabilities, are leased and eight remain empty.

St. Luke's Episcopal Church is leasing the land for $1 a year.

People of all ages, abilities and backgrounds are invited to plant individual, family and group plots. Because the garden is organic, no chemical pesticides, fungicides, herbicides or fertilizers are allowed. The garden is designed to rely solely on the soil, compost and other natural additives to promote plant health and growth.

Gardeners lease plots for $25 per year. Scholarships are available for individuals who cannot afford the annual fee. Included with the plot lease fee are basic organic gardening classes, which will resume next spring.

Community Organic Garden organizers are seeking people to donate time and energy on site.

"We were desperate for 'things' before and now we need labor," said Liz Harper, publicity chairwoman. "If anybody has some time, we would appreciate their help."

"The community has been incredible," Harper continued, "and we thank them for their support."

"I am overwhelmed by the generosity of the community - businesses and individuals. This is a real community project," she said.

For more information about the Community Organic Garden of Sequim, to make a donation or lend a hand, call Liz Harper at 683-7698.
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