Garden season sprouts at Federal Way schools
By MIKE STANLEY
Federal Way Mirror The Gardener's Way
March 16, 2012 · Updated 4:26 PM
Gardening season has begun at Federal Way school gardens.
Students at four elementary schools (Camelot, Enterprise, Green Gables, Nautilus), Truman Career Academy and five Head Start and Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP) classrooms have started seeds in their classrooms. This was made possible by the delivery of 10 light systems (developed by the Truman students of the Garden and Science class) and growing supplies provided by the Federal Way Community Gardens Foundation last week.
The seedlings will be planted in the garden beds at the schools in April. The students will be able to experience the excitement of watching the seeds sprout, the seedlings grow and the taste of the vegetables harvested from their gardens before they leave for the summer break.
The school gardens will be tended by volunteers throughout the summer. The produce will be made available to members of the community in need of help with affording fresh produce.
In addition to the four elementary school gardens, members of the FWCGF have built and currently operate the large community gardens at the Federal Way Senior Center, Truman Career Academy and the new garden at the Light of Christ church.
Last month, we began starting some of the seedlings in the greenhouses that will be planted out in the garden beds in early April. These gardens have been providing fresh organically grown produce since 2009 to low-income seniors at the senior housing apartments, the clients of the Meals-on-Wheels program, the three dinners for the homeless in the city as well as local food banks.
Each year, nearly 15,000 pounds of produce are delivered.
For those of us either with gardens at home, or who are starting gardens this year, now is a great time to take advantage of one of the nice days this month to get out and get the garden ready for planting.
In the Federal Way area, early April is a good time to start the spinach, carrots, onions, peas, lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, swiss chard, kale, arugula and other greens.
Many of these seeds are planted directly in the garden bed. A few, like lettuce, cabbage, broccoli and onions, are better planted as seedlings. You can start the seeds yourself if you can provide supplemental light (standard fluorescent light fixture that you can locate about 2 inches above the seedlings for 18 hours per day) or a greenhouse to get the plants growing.
A window sill will not provide sufficient light and the plants grown there will be quite weak. If you will only need a few plants, it is best to buy the starts at the nursery.
The community garden program is managed and operated by volunteers from our community. From the beginning, the program has been supported by volunteers from all parts of the community. Volunteers currently are made up of retired folks, homeschool kids and their parents, scout troops, church groups, garden clubs, and working people who come when they have an extra hour or two.
The gardens are a great place for families and other groups to give back to the community while they learn new gardening skills.
If you, or a group that you are a member of would like to become part of a great community program, contact email@example.com. Volunteer opportunities for you are available, and most likely your schedule can be accommodated.
Contact Federal Way Mirror The Gardener's Way Mike Stanley at Michael_stanley@usa.net.