By Lance Henderson
One year ago, a community garden in the Guide Meridian/Cordata Neighborhood was just an idea. Now Cordata Community Gardens has firmly taken root and residents from all over Bellingham are reaping the benefits.
Dee Andrews, one of the neighbors who stepped forward to bring the gardens to fruition, said as the gardens have developed, people have been coming down from their houses to check them out.
“It has become so much more than just a community garden,” Dee said. “It’s a community meeting place where people end up talking with someone they never would have otherwise.”
The land for Cordata Community Gardens was originally donated by Ted Mischaikov, a local developer who purchased the property from D.R. Horton last fall. Recognizing the need for water, Mischaikov also installed a 580-foot underground watering pipeline.
“He is our land angel,” said Bob Sanders, a Guide Meridian/Cordata Neighborhood resident.
The gardens were further fueled by a $5,000 grant from the Mary Redmond Foundation via the Washington State University Extension and a $2,500 grant through the City of Bellingham’s Healthy Neighborhood Initiative.
Several businesses also pitched in with services at little or no cost to the gardens project. For example, an 18-by-12 tool shed was provided by Dawson Construction and delivered by Birch Equipment. Plus, Northwest Chipping and Grinding came up with compost for the beds and chips for the walkways.
In all, the gardens serve 50 families with 4-by-16 raised garden beds where they grow everything from fresh greens to zucchini. In addition, there are 10 blueberry bushes planted by employees of the Community Food Co-op and some pumpkins are taking shape just in time for fall.
Three garden beds have been set aside at no cost — one for the Sustainability Club at Whatcom Community College, another for the Flying Colors of Rebound—Whatcom County, and one for disabled gardeners, courtesy of the Cordata Community Food Co-Op. The other gardeners have all paid a $35 annual fee to provide water, other supplies, and general maintenance for the garden site.
The Cordata gardeners have all signed an agreement stating that none of the food grown in the garden can be sold and part of every harvest must be made available to someone in need.
“Vegetables aren’t the only things growing out here; a sense of camaraderie and community is growing as well,” Andrews said.