J.J. Chong of Port Angeles waters plants in his patch of the community garden in the 300 block of East Fifth Street in Port Angeles on Thursday. The garden will celebrate its official grand opening Saturday. Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News

Fifth Street Community Garden to celebrate Saturday

PORT ANGELES ­— The “community” in the Fifth Street Community Garden — set to open Saturday — isn’t just a buzzword.

Here and now in Port Angeles, said volunteer Diane Martin, the term means the sharing of knowledge and down-and-dirty labor.

“One of the best things about this,” she said, “is that you have this whole community of gardeners” who have a little bit of land and possibly some gardening advice for their neighbors in the 40-plot space on Fifth Street.

After more than a year of planning, design, digging and building, the Fifth Street Community Garden will start its grand opening Saturday morning with free public classes in organic gardening and opportunities to rent 10-foot-by-10-foot plots.

Then, at 3 p.m., the garden crew will throw a party with refreshments and live music by the Whidby Street Review.

Martin and other volunteers will hand out plot-rental applications for would-be gardeners and give an orientation for them at 11 a.m.; then, the public is invited to attend any or all of the free classes: herb gardening at 11:45 a.m.; “lasagna gardening,” a technique incorporating mulch, at 12:15 p.m.; and gardening in cold weather at 1 p.m.

Local master gardeners will lead the sessions at the community garden, which is across from Port Angeles City Hall on Fifth Street just west of Peabody Street.

Participants don’t have to be plot holders, Martin said. She hopes, however, to attract people who want to start growing vegetables, berries, herbs and other organic produce in the community garden, where about 20 spaces are still up for grabs.

Rent per plot is $35 for the season and includes access to water and tools, Martin noted.

For those who can’t come to the garden party, information is available at www.PAVictoryGardens.org and 360-452-3192. Potential growers also can email [email protected]

‘Victory gardens’

The Fifth Street garden, along with the 2-year-old Vineyard Community Garden at 3415 S. Peabody St., is known as Port Angeles’ “victory gardens” in a salute to the backyard victory gardens of the early 1940s, when wartime-frugal Americans grew fruits and vegetables to feed their families.

But then, this new garden is a victory in another way.

“It’s the culmination,” Martin said, “of blood, sweat and tears” on the part of some 100 volunteers.

The city of Port Angeles provided the land — a vacant lot it has owned for years — but Martin added that it was people who are passionate about community gardening who provided the labor.

One such volunteer is architect Hank Gibson of Gibson Design Group in Port Angeles. “He designed all aspects of the garden,” Martin said.

Gibson, however, didn’t respond to a phone call for comment on his work; Martin said he’s not inclined to bask in praise for his work.

The transformation of the Fifth Street field into a place where people get together to grow food has happened, she added, thanks to those who dug into the hard ground last winter, despite the demands of day jobs.

In that spirit, Martin signs her emails with a Chinese proverb: “Those who say it cannot be done should not stand in the way of those who are doing.”

________

Features Editor Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-417-3550 or at [email protected]

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