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Community donations top $52,000 for South Whidbey garden program

Feb 1st, 2016 | Category: Growing

by Marian A. Myszkowski

In October 2014, Goosefoot, a local non-profit community development organization, announced a challenge grant of $15,000 annually for three years from the Goose Community Grocer in support of the South Whidbey School District Garden Program. In 2014, over $22,000 was raised from the community and the Goose Grocer matched the total amount, donating $44,726 to the garden program.

Students working in the school garden. PHOTO COURTESY OF MARIAN MYSZOWSKI

Students working in the school garden. PHOTO COURTESY OF MARIAN MYSZOWSKI

In 2015, $26,048.39 was raised and the Goose will once again match the whole amount, for a grand total of $52,096.78 going directly to the school garden program to use during the 2015/2016 school year. The store’s $15,000 challenge grant will continue for the following school year as well (2016/2017). Funding from the three-year challenge grant cycle will allow for garden program staff to work with the school district in making the program self-sustainable.

The public join in on the “big check” ceremony on Thursday, Jan. 28 at The Goose Grocer, where the donation was given to the South Whidbey School District. The Goose is located at 14485 SR 525 on South Whidbey Island.

The South Whidbey School District Garden Program is the result of a unique collaboration amongst several Whidbey Island non-profits: Good Cheer Food Bank, Goosefoot, South Whidbey School District, Whidbey Institute, and Whidbey Island Nourishes (WIN).

The Goose Grocer is owned by Goosefoot. “The store is now able to give back to our community in a direct way, and the school garden is the perfect program to be supporting,” according to Sandra Whiting, Goosefoot’s executive director. “We are grateful to our donors and to the community at large for partnering with us to ensure that the school gardens will continue to thrive.”

“This money will allow us to hire a part-time farm manager and two part-time garden educators, I couldn’t be more thrilled!” said program manager Cary Peterson. “We’ve got a very busy year ahead of us and the community’s generosity will help us meet our goals.”

Fourth grade students enjoy their kale.  PHOTO COURTESY OF MARIAN MYSZOWSKI

Fourth grade students enjoy their kale. PHOTO COURTESY OF MARIAN MYSZOWSKI

Moving forward, Cary and her staff will continue working with faculty to develop and expand integrated curriculum across grades K-12. They will work on attaining their goal of year-round harvesting and delivery to the school lunch program. And planting fruit trees at the School Farm and the Langley Middle School are in the works as well.

Last year, the garden-based curriculum expanded to include all classes K-5 at the Elementary School and South Whidbey Academy, with every student picking and eating fresh veggies during classes. Garden-based science curriculum is now being taught to all 7th grade classes. And in the cafeterias, over 1,000 pounds of fresh school-grown produce was delivered for school lunches.

For more information on the South Whidbey School District Garden Program, visit their website at https://whidbeyschoolgardens.wordpress.com/.

Published in the February 2016 issue of Grow Northwest

 

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