Japanese students help build a NEW school garden!

554894_566877722012_1982012613_nRecently, Sustainable Renton board member Elizabeth Zwicker was approached by a friend about opportunities in the area for a group of Japanese exchange students. Well, immediately she thought of the Sustainable Renton Community Farm-and all of the different projects that need help there. So we said YES, we’d love to have them for a 2-hour work party at the farm.

So, today, the students came to the farm to help us prepare garden beds for a school garden for the Apollo Elementary School (Issaquah School District), which is located immediately behind Celebration Church and the Community Farm. This Fall, we’ll be having a program to engage students at the school with gardening and growing fresh produce.

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The exchange students are part of the States 4H International Exchange Program. Their mission is: “Enhancing world understanding and global citizenship through high-quality 4-H international cultural immersion and exchange programs for 4-H aged youth.”

Their volunteer time with us was part of the student’s orientation week before they head off to live with their host families for the year. They wanted to learn about volunteerism in American culture-they sure did work hard, and never complained. We really accomplished a LOT! All that hard work will ensure that local elementary students will have access to an organic garden, where they can learn about biology, cooperation, patience, healthy eating habits, and so much more.

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To learn more about States 4H exchange, visit their website.

We are so blessed to be able to collaborate and partner with so many different groups, people, and organizations in our community.

And here are some photos of what is growing at the garden right now.

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Community Farm Happenings: A Deer Fence?

Hey everyone! There is a lot going on up at the farm!

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First, one of our fearless gardeners noticed that there were some signs of deer having a presence in our garden. When I first heard about the deer my mind imagined the worst. The carnage was awful in my imagination, but, when I was finally able to bring myself to go and see what actually happened at the beloved garden, I saw that the deer were merely grazing. They had taken a top of a sunflower here and a couple of beans plants there-nothing really to be too upset about. However, the deer now knew how delicious our bounty was and they would be back. Personally, I prefer to have a more laid back reaction to sharing with the deer and other critters. My idea is to just plant 20% more than you want and it won’t be an issue. If you happen to share some of what you’ve planted with the creatures that were here long before we were, so be it, however, I must succumb to the fact that we are in a community garden and not everyone is a food socialist, or should I say, not quite as naïve as I am. Some of our more experienced gardeners have paid “deerly” when dealing with these beasts before. So, to make a long story even longer, we have begun to construct an inexpensive deer fence. Thanks to an anonymous donation we were able to procure an abundance of cedar fence posts, most of which were 8’-10’ long. We were then able to find a ½ mile of electric fence wire on Craigslist, for a screamin’ deal, which we will space approximately 12” apart and run horizontally around the perimeter of the garden 4 or 5 times. This combined with some twine or nylon rope tied from the top wire dangling and swaying vertically, will create enough of a barrier in the not-so-great eyesight of the deer-seeming impenetrable. Deer problem solved, or at least greatly reduced.

A big thank you to Neal Poland, Ric Beard, Steve Randolph, Jim Doty, Niki Samek, Iver and Bonnie Poole for making this happen.

Also, on Sunday I was able to begin our Three Sisters Garden. This is an old Native American planting ideology that incorporates basic permaculture principles that nourish the soil. The idea is to plant corn first-we opted for Tom Thumb Popcorn, then, when the corn is 4” high, we will plant pole beans that will grow up the corn stalks and squash that will grow beneath to keep the moisture and nourish the soil. Here is a link to a planting guide if anyone would like to try it at home: http://www.reneesgarden.com/articles/3sisters.html

If you are interested in working at the farm we have work parties every Sunday at 4 pm. This Sunday we will be working on planting a pumpkin patch-little sugar pumpkins and Jack-be-little pumpkins. You don’t have to have a garden plot to come and get your hands dirty!

We will also be able to harvest some lettuce for the REACH program pretty soon. Fresh, organic salads for people makes me smile really big!

A really big Thank You to Celebration Church for making this sacred property available to us. As a visitor called it the other day a “healing garden”, and it truly is.

There are a couple of plots left; if you hurry you can plant yourself an abundant fall/winter garden. We have year round gardening!

Contact larar35@comcast.net for more info or sustainablerenton@gmail.com

We need YOU!

Sustainable Renton is in a really great position at the moment, with a lot of momentum behind several projects

We have a successful monthly series of film screenings called Meaningful Movies-these are movies that challenge, educate, and enrich us.

Our community farm in NE Renton is really coming to life-seeds are being planted, pathways are being laid, a kid’s sandbox is in place. It is exciting to think of all the possibilities that lay ahead for this project.

And we now have a group working to develop a Renton Food Co-Op. This group sees the need for a local business that would be a focal community point highlighting local, organic, sustainable  food and products.

All of these projects require a lot of hard work from many people. Until now, a core group of individuals has been working diligently to get things rolling. But we are the point now where we need some further assistance in specific areas if we want to see the projects grow and thrive.

If you have experience in any of the following roles (or want to learn with us!), please contact us at sustainablerenton@gmail.com to find out more. Thank you for your support and encouragement. Together, we can achieve great things!

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Volunteer coordinator. This role would entail recruiting volunteers to help for either the community farm or food co-op projects. Experience with volunteer recruitment with non-profits is preferred, but not required.

Grant-writing coordinator. This role would involve researching possible grants for both the community farm and the food co-op, and then writing grant proposals to be reviewed by the Sustainable Renton board. Experience with grant-writing is highly beneficial, but not required.

Fundraising coordinator. This role would involve working with the Sustainable Renton board to develop fundraising sources to support our projects-these sources could include events, private donors, matching donation programs. Experience with fundraising is preferred, but not required.