Inside an oasis of tranquility
Mukilteo Community Garden offers recreation and relaxation, while also supporting food banks
Last updated 1/27/2021 at 2:05pm
In a world where leisure opportunities are severely limited by the state's COVID-19 restrictions, the Mukilteo Community Garden offers residents a perfect place for a little recreation and relaxation.
The garden, at 44th Avenue West and 76th Street Southwest near the Japanese Gulch south trailhead, is entering its 12th year of encouraging members to get a little closer to Mother Nature. Fifty-one garden beds are available for rent to the community, though the garden currently has a waiting list. Prior renters have priority over newcomers.
If you're lucky enough to secure a bed, the possibilities are endless. But prepare to do a little work.
"If you're a renter, it's your job to prepare the soil in your bed," Mukilteo Community Garden Vice President Jeanne Crisp said. "Once you get a bed in pretty good shape, you get to decide what to plant and when you want to plant it."
Water is provided by the garden, though again individual gardeners are responsible for keeping their beds properly watered.
Most people grow a particular crop, such as green beans, tomatoes, kale or other vegetables. A few grow flowers.
"Every bed is different," Crisp said. "It's great fun to see how people approach it."
Crisp has had good luck in raising tomatoes in recent years. Board President Lorie Rhynard noted that beets and lettuce also are popular crops. She likes to mix it up each year.
"I experiment with stuff. I like to try something new," Rhynard said.
Those new to gardening will appreciate the advice of members, who include a number of Master Gardeners, people who receive special horticulture training. Advice from other members also is just an email or phone call away.
Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, the garden offered educational seminars for the public. But while those educational opportunities have had to be curtailed, the garden remains open for members with some restrictions. The board also decided there will be no formal work parties until further notice.
People are required to wear masks when they are in the garden unless they are the only ones present. Garden members should bring their own gloves and sanitizing wipes to be used to wipe whatever they touch – locks, door handles, tools, wheelbarrow handles. The garden encourages people to bring their own tools.
About half of the garden is reserved for food banks, and when people sign up for their own beds, they agree to spend 10 hours of their time helping to raise food for the Mukilteo and Lynnwood food banks.
"That's how we get food banks taken care of, through our volunteers' efforts," Crisp said.
The board currently is making its plans for 2021, and deciding on what crops to plant. The garden will order seedlings next month.
In the past, volunteers have helped grow lettuce, green beans, tomatoes, onions, beets, blueberries and rhubarb for the food banks.
"We actually surveyed the two different food banks to see what crops customers actually prefer," Crisp said. "We're trying to adjust to the community's demand."
Last year, members helped grow more than 1,000 pounds of fresh produce and vegetables to food banks. Food bank representatives told the board that they expect they will need donations more than ever this year.
Members are generally less active in the garden in January and February with March and April generally the time when many start to prepare their bed.
But others, like Crisp, are year-round gardeners.
"Some people, including myself, also plant things that stay in the ground all winter," she said.
Garlic, kale and brussels sprouts are among the more hearty crops that are grown and harvested through the year.
At the end of the season, each gardener is responsible for cleaning up their bed and covering it up for the winter.
For more information on the Mukilteo Community Garden see http://www.mukilteogarden.org. A new column from the Mukilteo Community Garden debuts in this week's Beacon. It can be found at https://www.mukilteobeacon.com/story/2021/01/27/a-and-e/start-simple-when-growing-your-own-food-tilling-times/20928.html