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The word perennial has multiple definitions. When it comes to plants it can mean having a life cycle lasting two or more years. It can also be indefinite, a long time, and even perpetual. The latter adjective is the goal of a coalition of advocates in Mason County.
Faced with the loss of their garden space due to budget cuts, Mason County Master Gardeners and 4-H volunteers organized the creation of a new community garden in Shelton. Thanks to a Schools Out Washington (SOWA) Healthy Youth, Healthy Futures Washington mini-grant of $4,000, WSU Mason County Extension was able to coordinate Master Gardeners, 4-H Youth and other community partners to plan and develop an acre-size parcel aptly named Catalyst Park.
The community garden has space for groups producing food to supply the nearby food bank, as well as plots for families and other groups to grow produce for fundraisers.
SOWA funds were used to transport youth for after school programs to set up the growing beds in the park. Children ranging from first to fifth grade participated. The grant also paid for tools and signs, among other expenses.
Community groups including Rotary, Kiwanis and the Optimists provided funds for soil deliveries and numerous volunteer hours. According to 4-H staff member Cameron Dempster, “The community garden is a great place for cross-generational sharing. We had first graders working side by side with people in their 80s.” Dempster highlights the value of having all of the groups come together to create the new environment for growing healthy food and supplying food to those in need. “The community connections made this possible,” he said. “It would not have been possible for one group to tackle this on their own.”
Featured: Fall 2010
Hunger-relief organizations, youth out-of-school program leads