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Community Organic Garden accepting 10 reservations

Spring is more than two months away.

Summer is even further. Snow lies in the mountains and occasionally in the lowlands. Temperatures hover in the 30s. Nonetheless, now is exactly the time to start thinking about gardening for the summer, encouraged Liz Harper, Community Organic Garden of Sequim publicity chairman.

Ten plots are available for

rent at the Community Organic Garden of Sequim, located behind St. Luke's Episcopal Church on Fifth Avenue. Three of those plots are raised beds for elderly and disabled individuals.

Plots cost $35 per year, a price that includes water and six to eight classes on basic organic gardening. Classes start mid-February and will be on Saturdays for about two hours. Registration is first come, first served. Scholarships are available to individuals who cannot afford the annual fee. Classes for those who don't wish to lease a plot are $25.

"The cost of food is so high, especially food that is organically grown," Harper said. "People are getting more aware of where they can tighten up in their budget and this is one way to save money and eat healthily."

"Besides being a money saver, it educates people on how to eat and grow organic food," Harper continued about the Community Organic Garden. "I just got an e-mail from somebody who said they are still eating tomatoes (from their plot)!"

The idea of organic gardening has snowballed in Sequim since the garden opened, according to Harper. "People took what they learned and are gardening at home now," she said proudly.

People who rented plots the first year are continuing to garden organically as well as educate others about the perks.

The garden proved plentiful in 2007. Sunflowers, raspberries, squash, pumpkins, zucchini and tomatoes grew abundantly. Extra food was donated to the Sequim Food Bank.

The garden was "put to bed" for the winter in October. The gates will reopen in the spring. Renters are required to dedicate at least eight hours of community service to the garden throughout the year, which can be spent doing activities such as weeding or helping build new beds.

People of all ages, abilities and backgrounds are invited to plant individual, family and group plots. The garden is designed to rely on the soil, compost and other natural additives, meaning that no chemicals, pesticides, fungicides, herbicides or fertilizers are allowed.

St. Luke's Episcopal Church leases the 75-foot by 150-foot section of land to Friends of the Fields for $1 a year. The space is divided into 30 plots, including five raised beds. Organizers are considering building a sixth raised bed, Harper shared.

The Sequim High School Ecology club thought up the idea for a community organic garden. The students wanted to save farmland but opted for the more costly project of developing a garden instead. Even though the group decided against saving farmland, Friends of the Fields still wanted to be involved. From that relationship, the Community Organic Garden of Sequim was born.

St. Luke's Episcopal Church received an award for environmental ministry recently in part because of the church's involvement with the organic garden, said the Rev. Robert Rhodes, and also because of its environmental retreats, dedication to selling reusable grocery bags and hosting an energy workshop.

"Stewardship of God's creations is part of our calling, especially now with global climate change and the need to develop alternative energy sources," Rhodes said. "We have a beautiful and sensitive environment here on the North Olympic Peninsula, so caring for it and not abusing it is part of our responsibility."



Organic gardening in 2009

The Community Organic Garden of Sequim, located at 535 N. Fifth Ave., behind St. Luke's Episcopal Church, consists of 30 lots, including five raised beds for people with disabilities. Ten plots are available for lease in 2009. Gardeners can rent plots for $35 per year, which includes water and basic organic gardening classes that start mid-February. For more information, past articles and photos, go online to http://cogs.thecascadian.net/. To make a donation, volunteer or lease a plot, call Liz Harper at 683-7698.







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