Photos, video and story by Sarah Sharp
Mostly bare, with scattered weed patches. That’s how the strip of land across from Grace Lutheran Church looked just a few months ago.
Now, Blaine’s 7th Street Community Garden has sprouted into summer shape – and that means a bounty of hulking zucchini, towering sunflowers and spicy rhubarb.
The harvest arrived just in time to commemorate the garden’s 14th anniversary. Community members and resident gardeners will celebrate with an open house and garden party on Saturday, August 6 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
But it won’t be the only celebration that weekend. Organizers planned the open house in hopes that the crowd from Drayton Harbor Days, Blaine’s annual maritime celebration, would also come to experience the seaside breeze in a greener locale.
Volunteers from Washington State University’s master gardening program are spearheading the event. The team consists of Cynthia Burroughs, Seraida Vasquez and Carol Hogan, all of whom tend to the 7th Street Community Garden in order to complete their credit hours. They will set up a booth at the open house to educate prospective gardeners about native plants, giving gardens, composting, worm bins and rain barrels.
Resident gardeners will also bring samples of their crops for attendees to taste. What’s more, Hogan will reveal her prized zucchini recipe: baked zucchini topped with asiago and parmesan cheeses and pesto.
“As people become more familiar with the garden, hopefully they’ll become interested,” she said.
The 22-plot garden maximizes every inch of land allocated by the city of Blaine, and every plot is currently in use, Burroughs said. However, when availability opens up, community members can rent the approximately 13’X12′ plots for $12 a year. In addition, four smaller raised beds are available to accommodate people with limited mobility for $6.
Resident gardeners must only follow two rules while tending to their plots: no synthetic chemical fertilizer, pesticides or herbicides unless they are certified organic and no invasive plant species, Burroughs said.
The first few rows of the community garden are new additions this year, featuring a native pollinator garden and giving garden. The native pollinator garden was planted to attract bees, butterflies, beneficial insects and hummingbirds – though the latter has yet to be seen, Hogan said.
The giving garden donates produce to the Blaine Food Bank. It was modeled after the concept of victory gardens during World War WII, in which the government encouraged people to plant gardens to increase food production in the war economy, Hogan said.
Victory gardens accomplished another goal: fostering community around gardens. Likewise, the 7th Street Community Garden brings people of all walks to G Street, Burroughs said.
“There’s an eclectic group of people here,” she said. “They’re retired people; they’re professionals; they’re children.”