QUILCENE — Q Gardens — a community garden off U.S. Highway 101 in Quilcene designed to be a place to create, learn, garden and eat well — is farther along in development today than owners and volunteers had expected.
Quilcene Gardens, referred to locally as Q Gardens — at 71 Old Church Road just got its newest addition on Wednesday: a windmill that is both functional and artistic.
The windmill is the first item in the garden’s kinetic sculpture garden, said Anne Ricker, who bought the property more than 25 years ago.
“That’s the part I’ve been very excited about,” she said.
With the help of Bill Scott, Scott Abbott and Tim O’Neil, the 16-foot-tall windmill went in without a hitch on Wednesday.
It wasn’t expected to be erected for another two weeks, according to Ricker, who also said that the raised beds inthe garden and other aspects have happened sooner than expected because of community help.
The $6,000 windmill — which was funded by community donations — is the newest addition to the complex, which features a restored church and art gallery, an organic garden that supplies the Quilcene Food Bank and anyone who drops by, a low-impact development garden, a native garden and an espresso stand.
It’s an example of how the community comes together to support the garden, which is sustained through volunteer work and donations, Ricker said.
“It’s almost like we think of it and somebody will do it for us,” she said. “It’s really wonderful.”
The windmill, which will pump water for the gardens, will be painted by children, Ricker said.
Sculptures for the kinetic garden are in progress.
Ricker has her eyes on a couple of other projects as well.
Among them is a new watering system that would save volunteers hours of time. She already has secured a grant for the watering system.
Now she’s in the process of writing a grant for an outdoor pavilion.
The pavilion, which would be next to the new windmill, would be a place where people could come to learn about the food grown at the garden and to participate in cooking classes, she said.
Classes would likely be led by Master Gardeners Juanita Thomas and her sister Anita McCue, she said.
For Ricker, running the garden is a labor of love for her community.
She enjoys “the satisfaction you get from seeing things grow and the enthusiasm of people in town”
When she first started with the property, it came with “two dead buildings,” and was “full of garbage.”
Now it’s a vibrant garden and a destination for motorists and cyclists passing through the town.
It’s not uncommon for people passing by to just stop and see what is going on with the garden while they are on their way to Victoria or the Olympic National Park, Ricker said.
Those who stop by do have to follow the one rule of the garden, though.
“The rule for this garden is that anybody can come and pick anything they want, whenever they want, but they have to pull a couple of weeds,” Ricker said. “It works beautifully.”
Thomas, who is involved with the Quilcene Food Bank, said the garden has made an incredible difference to the quality of produce available to its clients.
While the garden doesn’t supply all the food, she said organizers have been able to make connections with other who can help.
The result is a food bank that provides fresh, quality produce.
Last year Q Gardens was able to donate hundreds of pounds of food to the Quilcene Food Bank.
“If you go and you look in the food bank, it looks like QFC,” she said. “When the food bank sent me out to find a community garden, we had three tables of really sad looking produce.
“And now we have seven tables of produce that is totally clean and every scrap of it goes.”
Ricker and Thomas said the garden is working on building a stronger relationship with Quilcene Elementary School to teach the town’s youngest residents the importance of agriculture.
Ricker purchased the Old Church northeast of the Q Gardens in 1989 and began restoration efforts.
Now restored, the Old Church is the home base for the Quilcene Artists Collaborative, which works with schools to bring art into everyday rural life.
Three years ago, Ricker purchased a one-acre plot to the southeast of the church, known as “John’s Gift,” with $30,000 donated by Madelyn Pitts of Leland and the remainder of the balance placed on Ricker’s charge card, she said.
For more information about Q Gardens, visit quilcenegardens.com.
Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 5550, or at [email protected].