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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Garden Crew’s Enthusiasm Wilts

If people had stuck with it, they would have had the satisfaction of plucking pumpkins the size of basketballs and picking strawberries bulging with sweetness.

But digging dirt just once at North Idaho College’s community garden last April exhausted most of the volunteer crew. Garden founders Joelle Storey and Rhonda Pickles are baffled.

“We were so high at the initial turnout. People were so excited,” Joelle says, shaking her head. “But after one hot and sweaty workday, no one came back.”

Joelle and Rhonda had dreamed of a community garden for years. It would feed the hungry, bring generations together, keep people healthy.

Joelle’s boss in NIC’s transportation department found her land on campus last spring.

At the first meeting in March, 23 people of all ages showed up. They wanted to weed away stress, grow emotionally along with the vegetables.

The patch of NIC land never had supported a garden before. It needed rototilling and a fence. Joelle and Rhonda wanted raised growing beds so people with bad backs or in wheelchairs could garden.

On the first workday in April, 12 people showed up. They labored all day. Businesses contributed seeds, lumber, chicken wire, compost, topsoil. One woman created two scarecrows - a female in lavender overalls and a male in blue overalls.

Within weeks, peas and carrots sprouted, petunias and marigolds took root; onion tops shot through the dirt like green victory signs.

But only Joelle and Rhonda were there to witness the growth.

Now that vines are thick with pattypans and cornstalks are shoulder-high, a student comes faithfully to haul the harvest to the food bank. Joelle and Rhonda weed, water, thin and pick all by themselves.

They’re disappointed the garden didn’t take root in the community. But they know it will grow in the future.

“Our dream has been fulfilled,” Rhonda says, her wide-eyed enthusiasm for the project not wilted a bit.

A-hunting we will go

Coeur d’Alene’s Pete Gardner knows the signs of a fast-approaching hunting season: ripe huckleberries on the lowest bushes, early morning dew turning white.

Pete is the Department of Fish and Game’s new coordinator of hunter education, and he’s prepared to teach all hunters to preserve the sport’s integrity. He’s pretty sure people who trespass or shoot other humans are rare, and he wants to keep it that way.

Any hunter born after Jan. 1, 1975, needs Pete’s program to buy a hunting license. But Pete says his class is a gas for older people, too.

Interested? Call Pete at 769-1414.

In stitches

Harrison’s Ferdinand JeanBlanc knows his way around a needle. He builds industrial-strength sewing machines - the big guys for big jobs. Ferdinand’s machines stitch the webbing that catches fighter jets when they land on aircraft carriers.

His latest feat is a win at the Worldwide Great American Stitch-off. Ferdinand’s Pro 2000 beat out 30 other entries from across the nation for quality sewing.

What other surprises are hiding in tiny Harrison?

How does your garden grow?

The years I tended a garden, I harvested more weeds than anything else, except maybe zucchini. Garden problems run in my family. My mother tried gardening 30 years ago and was a hit with the neighborhood rabbits; she didn’t have the heart to chase them away.

Tell me about your rows of vegetables. Did you start with a victory garden in the 1940s? What outlandish vegetables do you grow? How do you get rid of your zucchini?

Feed those vegetable tales to Cynthia Taggart, “Close to Home,” 608 Northwest Blvd., Suite 200, Coeur d’Alene 83814; or send a fax to 765-7149 or call 765-7128.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color Photo