PORT ANGELES — Port Angeles High School junior Jamie Robinson can be found digging, pulling weeds, planting, watering and doing just about any task that’s needed most days of the week at the community garden on campus.
Robinson likes being out in the fresh air and can imagine some kind of career in agriculture. She already works part time at Graystone Farm Flowers and has lined up a summer job at Olympic Roots Farm.
On Saturday, Robinson and other students from the Port Angeles High School Garden Club will be on hand from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. during the Port Angeles High School Community Garden Plant Sale to sell the vegetable starts and plants they’ve grown in the garden’s greenhouse.
Buyers will find vegetable starts, including corn, lettuce, pumpkins, tomatoes, sunflowers, cabbage, kale, snap peas, summer squash, onions, as well as strawberry and raspberry plants. Cash only will be accepted.
To get there, travel on East Park Avenue and turn south onto South Peabody Street, then turn right onto the high school service road (about 175 yards). The garden is located to the east of the gym. Visitors are asked to use the upper parking lot.
The garden club maintains the plot, which is used by the Native Studies program, environment science classes and other student groups — anyone, including community members, is welcome to visit. (And hopefully pull a weed or two).
Environment science teacher Adam Logan oversees the garden and garden club. Intended as an outdoor classroom, the garden serves a variety of functions.
“Kids come here for a variety of reasons,” Logan said. “Maybe they’re part of the club, maybe they’ve had long day of school and they just want to be outside.”
Shirlene Fitzwater, who was one of the grant writers for the greenhouse, worked with Clallam County Extension farm to school coordinator Amelia Depue to create lessons for her 11th grade math applications class that incorporated the garden.
“How do you start a business? How could you grow plants as a business?” Fitzwater said. “We’ve got the seeds, we grow the plants and now we’re able to sell them. How do you come up with a price?”
Fitzwater is one of many teachers in the Port Angeles and Crescent school districts Depue has assisted in integrating gardening and agricultural into the curriculum.
“It’s really about the age level, the needs of the school and what we have access to,” said Depue, whose position is funded through the USDA’s SNAP-ED program.
That could mean helping a school start a compost pile or teaching students about good nutrition by showing them how to grow and prepare vegetables.
All of Saturday’s revenue will go directly toward supporting the garden, which does not receive funding from the district.
Last year’s sale raised $500. This year’s goal is to double that amount, said Shawne Johnson, a teacher at Seaview Academy who has been involved with the garden from its beginning in 2018.
“We try to cover the cost of amendments and soil,” Johnson said. “WSU is helping out, but this has to be a community effort.”
Donations and volunteers have been essential to continuing the garden program, although they haven’t returned to pre-pandemic levels.
“We need gloves for kids and adults, a wheelbarrow, trowels, hoses,” Depue said. “Used is fine.”
More assistance would not just sustain the garden, Depue, Logan and Johnson all said, but help grow the kinds of programs that it can support — from CTE classes to supplying the district with fresh food — and the number of students who can benefit from it.
Senior Josiah Neubert, for example, was new to gardening and all things related to it — planting, weeding, watering. He had the idea that you planted seeds and that was it when he began working in the garden this year.
“I thought it was going to be easy, but it’s really hard,” Neubert said. “But you see the progress, so it’s actually kind of fun.”
Reporter Paula Hunt can be reached at email@example.com.