Garden of Hope

By MELANIE RUSSELL Published March 23, 2016 in the Snohomish Tribune

Garden of Hope Could Become New Food Resource

garden_of_hope pict
The garden looks just like planter’s boxes right now, but soon it could be a bounty of food benefitting the public and the Snohomish County Food Bank. This photo was taken last week.

A new community garden to benefit low-income residents and the food bank is slated to open in May and planning and building are underway at the Church of the Nazarene on Thirteenth Street.  Volunteers have already built 12 garden beds so far. The community garden, called the Garden of Hope, will be geared for low-income residents that otherwise lack access to fresh produce. The garden also will be used for educating children and adults about growing and preserving food. “We really wanted to make this garden about promoting wellness, nutrition, community and education,” garden director Joni Kirk said. “It’s more than a church project. One day we were talking and thought, ‘let’s use this land for some good for our community.’” The Garden of Hope sits on about an acre of land, and so far the garden plots take up about a third of it. Kirk said they have more plans for the land if this first attempt is successful.  “We want to grow out from here, and want to get kids involved,” Kirk said. “That will be a major focus for the garden.” She is currently applying for grants for educational programs as well as getting funding for those who want to rent a garden plot but can’t afford the fee.  Fees for a plot in the Garden of Hope are $35 a season, plus a $15 clean-up fee deposit, but people who can’t pay the fees will get assistance.  Location is also a major  factor to the garden’s development. Surrounding the church are more than 200 low-income housing units that do not have the room or permission for garden plots. Kirk said this impacts people because they cannot grow or learn to grow healthy food.  The garden will be volunteer-run. One of the volunteers, Cybil Whitson, said the Garden of Hope will give hope for those that need it.  “The goal is to encourage, not discourage. We hope it encourages healthy eating and we want to lend a helping hand,” Whitson said. “My husband has the green thumb, not me, and he is really excited to garden.” In a partnership agreement with the Snohomish Community Food Bank, the Garden of Hope will ask each plot renter to send 10 percent of their harvest to the food bank at the end of summer.  “Produce is not just used, it’s treasured at the food bank,” Whitson said. “This will allow people  a chance to have access to perishable foods they wouldn’t normally have access to because it’s expensive and this can help with nutrition and health.”  The Garden of Hope is slated to open May 9 for planting.  For more information about getting involved with the Garden of Hope, located at 1017 13th Street in Snohomish, contact Kirk at jonikirk@gmail.com

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