Community garden vision comes to life in Federal Way | Letters
September 27, 2011 · Updated 10:29 AM
In July 2007, we felt a calling to build a garden that would provide fresh organic vegetables and fruit to the senior citizens living in the local SHAG apartments and the clients of the meals-on-wheels program.
To answer this calling, the community garden at the Federal Way Senior Center was built. Beginning in May 2008, fresh produce has been delivered each week to over 80 Federal Way seniors through this program. In addition, produce has been available for the lunches at the senior center and for their food pantry.
At the senior center garden groundbreaking ceremony, then-mayor and current City Councilman Jack Dovey cast a vision that Federal Way become known for its beautiful gardens that provide organic vegetables and fruit to its needy citizens. Although Jack’s vision was not on our radar screen, we agreed to explore how we might make it come true.
As we shared Jack’s vision with other community leaders it became obvious that Jack had an accurate understanding of the heart of our community. Immediately leaders like Teri Hickel, Tom Pierson, Nancy Hawkins, Wayne Triplett and Chris Brown came forward to join us. They were later followed by Kevin Crossen, Cynthia Kannenberg, Chris Norman, Jennifer Dovey, Kathryn Dunn, Lisa Vik, Jim and Donna Cox, and pastors Dan Larson and Joe Bowman.
The Federal Way Community Gardens Foundation was formed and the vision began to take shape. The goal of 20 gardens located throughout the city was established. By June 2011, we had six gardens in operation. With the groundbreaking of the Light of Christ Lutheran Church community garden this past Sunday and the support of St. Francis Hospital for two additional elementary school gardens to be built this fall and winter, by next spring there will be nine gardens in operation.
We estimate that the current six gardens produced and delivered well over 10,000 pounds of fresh organically grown fruits and vegetables this year. With our expanded production, we not only are serving the SHAG and meals-on-wheels clients, but also the three community suppers for the homeless each week and the food banks at the Multi-Service Center, senior center and others. The additional gardens will allow us to do even more next year.
The gardens are truly a product of the Federal Way community. We continue to receive great support from our city leaders — in particular Mayor Skip Priest and the council members. Each month we register over 600 hours of volunteer time across the six gardens. Local businesses have been generous in their support.
We thank Jack Dovey for providing the vision for this expanded program. He has a great understanding of the needs of the Federal Way community and he knows how to inspire us to work together to make Federal Way a better community for all.
Mike and Carol Stanley, Federal Way