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Cool kids : Teens grow sense of togetherness


From left, Ajai Combelic, Kate Burke and Jasper Latham are getting their hands dirty in a community garden in Peaceful Valley. They urge others to get involved in their own communities. 
 (Jennifer LaRue photo / The Spokesman-Review)
From left, Ajai Combelic, Kate Burke and Jasper Latham are getting their hands dirty in a community garden in Peaceful Valley. They urge others to get involved in their own communities. (Jennifer LaRue photo / The Spokesman-Review)

On more than an acre in Peaceful Valley, a group of teens is tending the soil while tending to the community.

The seeds are organic and will produce peas, onions, garlic, rhubarb, cucumbers and zucchini. The teens also hope to produce a strong sense of community.

“It’s important to get involved in your community,” said Kate Burke, 17, “and there’s nothing better than a community garden. A strong community is what will survive when resources become scarce.”

The idea came to fruition when Ajai Combelic, 18, spoke to a friend who rents a house on the property. A portion of the property was made available to Combelic, and he got to work. Other teens became involved, including Chris Nelson, Jasper Latham and Burke.

“Gardening is good for the soul,” said Latham, 18.

The youths get their supplies through donations. Their wish list includes railroad ties, soaker hoses, a timer, a wheelbarrow – and more volunteers. Their goal is to grow crops with every Peaceful Valley resident joining them and thereby strengthening the community.

The teens’ immediate futures are undecided. Most of them are seniors at Lewis and Clark High School.

Burke will be heading to community college in Bellingham and then plans to return to Spokane. She said she loves this city and aspires to sit on its City Council. “That’s one idea. … I want to mix it up.”

The teens hope their good intentions will bear fruit and start a trend.

“You get back what you put into it,” said Combelic. “It travels full circle; what goes around comes around.”