The 2018 Growing Alliances Season

We apologize for being absent from this blog since November, 2017 (eek!).

We have been busy growing zucchini, scarlet runner beans, lemon cucumbers and so much more with the help of nine youth Crew Members. For the youth who have worked with us since the beginning, they’ve put over 190 hours into the garden, resulting in the harvest of over 600 pounds of pesticide-free produce. We’ve donated about 75% of the produce we’ve grown to the Bellingham Food Bank, the PAD Emergency Teen Shelter and the Sun House Community. The other 25% has been sold at our market stand and through a special served by Brandywine Kitchen, which in total brought in about $700.

Though the official season is over, we’ve continued to employ one reliable youth Crew Member to care for the garden, continue to harvest, and to help with fundraising and program development.

The 2018 wrapped up on September 13th, in a whirlwind of red, orange, yellow and purple tomatoes, as well as a variety of squash hanging off the vines. In the last few weeks of the program, we tied up loose ends by focusing on the following:

  • Creating and distributing feedback surveys to donation recipients, to discover how we can serve them more effectively next season.

    • What services can we provide to help them better utilize our donations?

  • Request feedback from the Crew on how to increase food production and intellectual challenge for the 2019 season.

  • Conclude our conversation about local food insecurity by brainstorming ideas on how we can use the garden and our skills to better address the issue

  • Put some of the raised beds to sleep and teach a workshop on the benefits and the process of cover cropping over the winter.

Besides growing produce to sell and donate, our Crew Members have been participating in professional development trainings throughout the summer to improve their ability to acquire and maintain a job and to increase their understanding of farm systems. Some of the trainings they’ve had the opportunity to participate in were:

  • Skywood Food Forest Field Trip – what is permaculture and how does it address some concerns of our conventional farm system?

  • Food Insecurity – Define and discuss relevance

  • Composting – what is the benefit of composting and how do we build a productive pile?

  • Interview Preparedness – what should you expect during the interview process? How do you stand out?

  • Business Model Canvas – How do you build a clear and effective entrepreneurial model?

  • Straight Talk – Constructive feedback tool

  • Food Bank Tour – What is currently a primary method of addressing local food insecurity?

  • Food Inc. Video – A brief but comprehensive view of the implications of the current food system.

  • Community to Community Presentation – Discussion on Whatcom County’s farm workers’ rights and abuses

  • Whatcom Dispute Resolution Center Training- Why is conflict valuable? How do you personally approach conflict?

  • Nutrient Cycle

  • Elevator Pitches – How to introduce yourself in an efficient and memorable way

  • Resume Building

We hosted four volunteer work parties this season, during which our awesome volunteers helped us build a beautiful picnic table, several wooden benches for our outdoor classroom, raised beds, a giant fuzzy kiwi trellis, a complete drip irrigation system, and so much more! We host a volunteer work party each month during the season.

We will be hosting a final harvest and cover cropping work party on October 27th from 11-2pm. If you’d like to be added to the volunteer list for this or future volunteer work parties, email volunteer@growingalliances.org or visit our volunteer page to fill out the application.