Bellingham Food Bank completes first year of Garden Project

The Bellingham Business Journal

In early December 2010, the Bellingham Food Bank concluded the first season of its Garden Project, a program designed to increases access to fresh produce for low-income individuals and families by providing them with the resources to grow their own vegetables at or close to their homes.

The Garden Project built 28 raised-bed gardens at a mixture of individual homes and clustered sites, such as the Bellingham YWCA. Participants, food bank staff, and project volunteers worked together to build each 4’ x 8’ garden. The food bank provided the lumber, soil, plant starts and seeds, gardening tools and resources, and the option for the participant to work with a mentor throughout the growing season. The program is free to all participants and the produce they grow is for their own use.

“By growing their own produce, participants saved money and had the freshest, most nutricious vegetables possible, harvested from their own yards and neighborhoods,” Max Morange, agricultural programs coordinator at the Bellingham Food Bank, said in a news release. “Even in as hard a weather year as 2010, first-time and seasoned gardeners alike were growing delicious veggies in their own gardens and finding out how easy and fun it can be.”

Many participants reported positive outcomes from their season of gardening, ranging from saving money on groceries to creating new relationships with neighbors to improving their health. The Garden Project will build 25 new garden beds in 2011, with new participant recruitment and garden construction beginning in January. Any individuals or families interested in participating in the upcoming growing season, as well as any organizations interested in hosting garden beds on their grounds are welcome to contact the program coordinator, Max Morange, to learn more about eligibility requirements. Additionally, the program is always recruiting garden construction volunteers and garden mentors.

The Garden Project is made possible by a grant from the Whatcom Community Foundation through its Sustainable Whatcom Fund. It was greatly aided in 2010 by generous donations from Builders Alliance, Growsource, Sunseed Farm, and Uprising Seeds. The Whatcom Volunteer Center provided help with volunteer recruitment and training.

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