Community gardeners hope to mix ‘youth culture,’ ‘elder culture’

SEQUIM — Since she dreamed it up last winter, Chase Shoemaker has watched her community garden vision grow.

Shoemaker, a 17-year-old senior at Sequim High School, brims with idealism and has friends who want to grow their own food and flowers in an organic community garden.

And she has the school’s Ecology Club adviser, Linda Dolan, cheering her on.

And now the community garden planners have land: a parcel on West Fir Street at Sequim Avenue, provided by owner and organic produce enthusiast Leslie Van Romer.

It’s small — just 16,000 square feet.

But that’s plenty for about three dozen garden plots, Shoemaker predicts.

What the garden hopefuls do not have is liability insurance.

The stuff is, as Dolan says, “spendy.”

Too much so for a group of teenagers and other volunteers.

They will keep looking, however, in hopes of finding a service club or other business that can help them find affordable coverage in time for a spring planting.

Abundant aims

Already, Sequim’s community garden has many features, and its aims are abundant.

Dolan, who picked up some ideas at an American Community Gardening Association conference in Los Angeles last month, wants Sequim’s garden to be completely wheelchair accessible and have plots of various sizes to suit single people, families and seniors.

It may also have an open space for gatherings.

This garden, Shoemaker added, will be a place where Sequim’s “youth culture” can mix with “our elder culture.”

Shoemaker remembers playing in a community garden when she was a small child living in Richland.

Growers were friendly and didn’t mind if someone’s kid snitched a cherry tomato or two.

Sequim needs more places for people to get together, Shoemaker added.

For teens, there’s The Buzz, a cafe near the high school, or Safeway, she said, and little else.

Van Romer’s property is an ideal spot for the gardeners: It’s centrally located and near the high school.

Shoemaker said community gardeners need not be Sequim residents.

They can come from unincorporated Clallam County and beyond.

To defray costs, gardeners will pay a minimal rental fee, she said.

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