San Juan Island Demonstration Garden
The demonstration garden in Friday Harbor has been in operation for around 15 years, with a crew of dedicated WSU Master Gardener volunteers who work there twice a week. The garden, including a well, is located on the property of the Mullis Senior Center on land they donated for our use. The garden is used to grow produce for the Friday Harbor Food Bank and has been highly successful, producing over 1,800 pounds of fresh vegetables for the food bank in 2019.
We realized we needed additional growing space for our annual spring plant sale and decided to erect a hoop house in the garden. The foundation provided the funds for the hoop house and Frogsong Landscaping did the construction. The hoop house allows us to nurture starts during the cold weather in time for the sale in early spring, and then use it for warm weather crops throughout the season. We now have a fully useful growing area, which has allowed us to lengthen the season and keep crops coming throughout the year, so important for the food bank clients.
Orcas Island School Garden
The school garden is supported by Orcas Island School District, community benefactors, and community members. The garden provides food to the Farm to Cafeteria program at the school.
In 2017 the WSU Master Gardener interns started working in the garden as part of their intern volunteer hours. At the time the school garden teachers were spending time in the garden weekly with grade schoolers, teaching them about growing food. The school curriculum included vegetable and fruit gardening.
In 2017 the WSU Master Gardeners decided to design and plant a Native Plant Garden with a matching grant from the Orcas Island Garden Club. The goal was to incorporate Native American uses of plants, pollinator plants, and other science topics into the school curriculum. In addition, the Master Gardeners placed mason bee nesting materials and taught the fifth grade class how to harvest the bee cocoons and prepare them for winter storage.
After a winter windstorm destroyed the garden greenhouse, the Master Gardener Foundation donated funds toward a new greenhouse. We held a county-wide pizza brunch on a Sunday morning in 2019 to celebrate the new greenhouse, which was built with financial support from the community and San Juan County Master Gardener Foundation.
Lopez Heritage Apple Orchard
The intent of the MG Heritage Apple Orchard on Lopez is to be an educational demonstration orchard that features historic, heritage apple varieties where Master Gardeners provide community education on pruning, disease and pest management, fruit tree propagation, and more.
The orchard site is located on San Juan County park land between the Lopez Island History Society Museum and Lopez Village. The Lopez Island Historical Society provides water for the orchard through a drip irrigation system.
Master Gardeners grafted 27 heritage trees in spring 2016 with the help of Madrona Murphy, botanist with Kwaiht. Her work identifying heritage apples varieties and instruction in propagation has been of great importance to this project. The grafted trees spent two years growing in a nursery bed in a Lopez Master Gardener's yard. The trees were planted March 2018.
Apple varieties include:
Grow Your Own Food
In the spring of 2019, the San Juan WSU Master Gardeners launched a pilot program
called Grow Your Own Food. Eleven adults and fourteen children visited the WSU Master Gardener Demonstration Garden, located on the Mullis Senior Center
property and Joyce Sobel Family Resource Center in Friday Harbor to learn how to
grow their own food.
Over the four-week pilot program participants learned:
control, and watering. Each family received a container garden with vegetable plants to take home, garden gloves, and a binder with gardening resources and recipes. A bi-lingual volunteer was part of the program to help with translation as needed.
The spark for the program originated with the desire to provide an opportunity for families to grow and eat fresh vegetables. A needs assessment determined the barriers that families face growing food and guided the development of the program’s curriculum. Access to garden space, the cost of water, deer, little
gardening experience, and not knowing which crops grow in the islands’ climate
were identified and addressed in the curriculum.
After the program concluded, participants said they learned how to prepare soil for
planting, care for vegetable plants, and encourage their children to eat more fresh vegetables at home. Several participants have since said the program encouraged them to grow a garden at home, which they would not have done otherwise.
The pilot program was organized and funded by the WSU Master Gardener Program, the Joyce Sobel Family Resource Center, and the San Juan County Health and Nutrition program.