A new, more bountiful garden for future chefs - the Shorewood High School Culinary Arts Garden

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Ready to eat in March
Photo by Wayne Pridemore

Text by Master Gardeners Judy Broom and Bonnie Chester

How do you move a garden?

Now, that’s a question you probably haven’t been asked at your Master Gardener Clinic. But the volunteers who manage the culinary arts garden at Shorewood High School can tell you how it’s done.

When their well-established youth education garden in Shoreline faced the prospect of relocating — thanks to a major school construction project — garden coordinator Bonnie Chester and her crew didn’t throw up their hands or complain. They did what any Master Gardener worthy of the title would do.

They dug in and got it done.

Herbs were the original crop and are still important
Photo by Wayne Pridemore

Here’s how it happened.

By 2013, when the renovation got underway, the vegetable garden had matured and was providing a bounty of produce for the popular culinary arts program at the high school.

Dwight Jacobsen, father of a student, had started the garden with school support about 10 years earlier. Initially it was primarily an herb bed, providing fresh ingredients for culinary students.

In 2007 the modest veggie plot, situated near the culinary arts classroom, came under the stewardship of a Master Gardeners group headed by Beth Donnellan.

Chef Instructor Diana Dillard and
Catering Manager Wendy Jordan
Photo courtesy Master Gardener Foundation

In collaboration with culinary arts chef instructor Diana Dillard and catering manager Wendy Jordan, volunteers from the Master Gardener Program began to enlarge the growing space.

Grant funding provided by Les Dames d’Escoffier, Seattle Chapter — an organization of women who are food and hospitality professionals— made possible expansion of the garden to include 25 beds for growing lettuce, spinach, onions, tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, squash, broccoli and more.

Photo by Wayne Pridemore

Student involvement with tasks from hauling soil to cultivating, planting, pruning and harvesting augmented the Master Gardeners’ efforts during the growing season. And classroom presentations by Master Gardeners on topics such as soil, compost, earthworms, seed catalogs, basic botany and beneficial insects filled the winter months.

The 2013 construction project brought change and new challenges to the garden. Reconfiguration of the campus meant a new location for both the culinary arts classroom and the garden, which was moved to a site immediately outside the classroom door.

Photo by Wayne Pridemore

In preparation for moving the garden from the former site, which is now used for tennis courts, the Master Gardeners’ volunteer corps disassembled garden structures, salvaging as much material as they could. They stored, and eventually relocated, a paved brick area with its covering gazebo, large timbers used for raised beds, signage and lockers full of tools and many other materials.

Another grant from Les Dames helped with the cost of labor and materials associated with the move.

Master Gardeners and Rain City Rotarians taking a break
Photo courtesy Master Gardener Foundation

A volunteer crew from Rain City Rotary helped students and the Master Gardeners rebuild the garden, literally from the ground up. Construction-compacted soil, covered with gravel, dictated the garden’s layout: seven raised beds constructed of untreated dock timbers, donated by Donata Boat Yard; and three round and six oval galvanized metal beds.

Photo by Wayne Pridemore

Extra-large pots donated by a local business and some open soil augment the raised beds. Additional donations by the Whole Kids and Shoreline Public Schools Foundation helped pay for other materials.

The Shoreline School District pitched in by providing the plumbing and controls for an automated drip irrigation system. Other recent enhancements include a Little Free Library, purchased with grant money by Wendy Jordan, and worm and yard-waste composting bins built by volunteers.

The Master Gardeners are still tweaking their planting plans to find the best crops for the sun exposure at the new site, and to best meet the culinary students’ needs.

Overwintered plants are growing in March
Photo by Wayne Pridemore

The group is beginning to focus on crops that will overwinter in order to provide produce in early spring, while school is in session. Currently summer harvests, which can’t be used by the students, are donated to POPY’s CafĂ© in Shoreline, a joint project of Prince of Peace Lutheran Church and the YMCA providing meals for the homeless.

In addition to the standard kitchen-garden selection of veggies and herbs, the Master Gardeners have added blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, rhubarb, artichokes, asparagus and, most recently, grape vines and several apple trees — two columnar trees, a dwarf and a crabapple. There’s even a tea tree, Melaleuca alternifolia. A fig is next.

Master Gardeners volunteers, from left
Judy Griesel, Gayle Harris, Bonnie Chester, Lee Keim
Photo courtesy Master Gardeners Foundation

The culinary garden crew of eight to 10 Master Gardeners, led by Bonnie Chester, have a weekly workday during the growing season, this year on Thursday from 10am until noon. Classroom demonstrations and talks continue to be an important part of their mission.

The Shorewood High School Culinary Arts Garden is located at Shorewood High School, 17300 Fremont Ave, Shoreline. Locate the garden using the Map to King County Clinics and Gardens. The group welcomes new volunteers. If you are interested in joining the fun and interfacing with students, please contact Bonnie Chester, bonniechester68@gmail.com
Reprinted with permission from The Foundation Connection, the newsletter of the Master Gardener Foundation of King County.


Jonathan,  March 28, 2017 at 9:31 AM  

Nice post

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