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Washington Voices

Not just a pumpkin patch

Sat., July 23, 2011

Garden a community center with many renting beds, helping out

The Pumpkin Patch Community Garden is thriving this summer, although there are more than just pumpkins in the patch of land that overlooks Argonne in Millwood.

A cooperative effort with Millwood Presbyterian Church, Inland Empire Paper Company (which is owned by Cowles Co., which also owns The Spokesman-Review), the Hutton Settlement and West Valley School District, the Pumpkin Patch has been seeing a lot of activity recently, with students from Hutton Settlement spreading compost on the beds and Boy Scout troops spreading mulch on the raised beds.

“I guess they had a blast,” said organizer Teresa Sadler of the Hutton Settlement children.

It’s not just the students and Boy Scouts helping out, however. Community members can rent a raised bed to grow whatever they want this summer.

Pastor Craig Goodwin of Millwood Presbyterian said community members can rent a bed for $20 over the summer, a price that includes the water needed to keep their garden green and lush. Local gardeners have personalized their own beds with signs labeling what they are growing or even a scarecrow or two. There are tomatoes, potatoes, lettuces, green, leafy vegetables and so much more than just pumpkins.

“We’ve had a lot more interest than last year,” Sadler said. “People come on a steady basis.”

There are 57 beds, and around 40 of them have been rented.

Sadler said the experience of the local gardeners tends to range from very experienced to beginners. In fact, she estimates that about 60 percent are new gardeners this year.

The teachers and staff of Seth Woodard Elementary School rented six beds this summer. Sadler said the produce they grow will be donated to Second Harvest Food Bank.

On the south side of the garden, which is on the corner of Argonne and Maringo, is the actual pumpkin patch, with curving walkways and plants that have just begun to flower.

Goodwin said much of the produce grown in this section of the garden will be donated to Second Harvest Food Bank so low-income families can enjoy fresh produce. Sadler said they are growing onions, corn and green beans in that section of the garden.

Last year, the garden donated more than 500 pounds of food to the food bank.

The little patch of land on the corner has a history of community growing. It used to be a family-owned pumpkin patch. Local residents may remember going to the patch to pick out Halloween pumpkins. The land was later used during construction on Argonne as a place for workers to park their vehicles.

Since then, the land sat vacant until last summer, when the community came together for the garden.

“I love that we’re bringing back that old story of the pumpkin patch,” Goodwin said.

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